Jin-Roh (Mania.com)

By:Justin Higgins
Review Date: Friday, March 08, 2002
Release Date: Tuesday, March 05, 2002

The Review!
I just finished watching the Jin-Roh DVD. My local anime store got the DVD in early (apparently it is a screener copy, but the DVD has no special markings, just the Bandai and Viz logos and the regular packaging). Unfortunately they did not get the extras disc, so I cannot say anything about it.

First off, I want to comment on the dub, since I imagine some people may be interested in that. The dub was done by the Ocean Group, although I didn't recognize many of the specific voice actors listed in the credits.

Honestly, I think the dub was generally excellent. I have a few quibbles here and there, but as these things go, it was quite watchable and I think most of the actors did an excellent job getting into the characters.

Now, on to the content. Going into this, I wasn't sure what to expect. On one hand, this is definitely a movie that has gotten a lot of hype, because of the people involved. On the other hand, I was aware of some people's thoughts that this was just overhyped garbage, so I figured I may go either way on this one.

I was also a bit aware of the general concept that in some ways this movie is a retelling of the Little Red Riding Hood fairy tale, and so going into this I was expecting a more literal retelling (i.e. something that more closely mimicked that story).

So, anyway, what did I think of the movie?

Honestly, I thought it was a truly incredible work. This story was much more complex and multilayered than I expected. In some ways it reminded me of Perfect Blue in terms of being a film where what I thought was going on kept changing.

The main character, Constable Fuse, has to be one of the most complex and difficult to figure out characters I have seen. I am not going to spoil anything here, but I can say that he is truly an enigmatic character.

The animation for this movie was some of the best I have seen.....it was incredibly fluid and lifelike, and some of the military scenes were amazingly well done.

The soundtrack as well was incredible. For anyone wondering about whether it's worth it to buy the SE, let me just say that having the soundtrack CD will definitely be a big bonus. One of the best parts was a nice cameo by Yoko Kanno doing the end theme (I don't know if she composed it or not, but she at least wrote the lyrics and performed it...although as her alter-ego, Gabriela Robin, which I guess she used since she never liked to use her own name for anything she performs vocals on herself).

The whole concept of using little red riding hood sounded a little odd to me when I first heard about it, but now that I've seen it, I can say that it's not quite as literal a retelling as some people may expect. It is more about similar themes that are told in that story; masquerades, dual roles, the relationship between humans and beasts, etc.

One of the central questions this movie tries to address is can a wolf become a human, or simply masquerade as a human. But it is even more complex than that, as it asks what would happen if a wolf truly tried to become a human, and could they complete that transformation. In the case of the movie, the wolves are soldiers, bereft of human emotion and sympathy. What makes it so interesting is trying to figure out who Constable Fuse really is, and how he relates to the other wolves and to other humans.

I don't want to say too much more, but I can say that if anything the hype that has surrounded this movie actually served to underprepare me for what this movie actually offers. From the hype I expected simply a cool story with amazing animation, but what it delivers is actually a truly complex work that does in fact make you think about a very specific philosophical question (as opposed to works like Ghost in the Shell which more ask the viewer to consider some more general questions such as what makes us human, for example).

Anyway, I would give this my highest recommendation, and this movie has gone to the top of anime movies I would recommend.

Review Equipment
Pioneer DVD-L50

Mania Grade: A+
Audio Rating: A+
Video Rating: A+
Packaging Rating: B
Menus Rating: B
Extras Rating: N/A
Age Rating: 13 & Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: Bandai Entertainment
MSRP: 29.99
Running time: 102
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Jin-Roh