Jin-Roh: Special Edition (Mania.com)

By:Jordan Rosenbaum
Review Date: Saturday, March 30, 2002
Release Date: Tuesday, March 05, 2002

The Review!
I really didn't know what to expect with this movie. I had heard the hype and decided to spring for the special edition. I was worried I would be let down, but, Wow! It is another great movie like Ghost in the Shell and Akira that is excellent on the surface, and becomes even better with sebsequent viewings!

First, the Japanese language track. Amazing. What more can you ask for than an excellent DTS language track? On top of that Misoguchi did a great job with the music. It blends perfectly with the feel of this movie. The English track was decent, but not great. The voice actors are all right, though some of the actor choices seemed wrong and there were some rough spots. Not great, but not bad either. For the sake of grading, I didn't even take this into account because of the amazing DTS Japanese track. And, does anyone even really watch anime with the English language track?

As far as I can tell technically perfect. I didn't notice any rainbowing, cross-coloration, or anything else that might lower its score. The animation itself was great. The character design was a lot more reserved than many other recent anime films, but it worked. The backgrounds were beautiful and they worked perfectly with the characters. These things melding together gave the movie a very dark and dreary feel.

The package design for Jin-Roh is graphically perfect. Pure eye candy. A nice sleek design with a Capitol Police officer silhouetted by a full moon. No cluttering or flashy colors, just a clean and dark design that fits very nicely with the dark feel on the movie. Unfortunately, they chose a plastic slipcase that cardboard disc holder slides into from the top or bottom. Sure, I will admit, it looks cool, but my cardboard case is already covered in white nicks from putting it in the slipcase only a few times!

Extras? Oh yeah, there are extras. Plenty. First is the second disc has a 39 minute series of interviews with story and screenplay writer, Mamoru Oshii, Director, Hiroyuki Okiura, and Hijame Mizoguchi, who did the music. Then three, yes three, Japanese theatrical trailers and the English trailer. Lastly on the second disc there are massive production art galleries. The third disk contains the Jin-Roh sound track, which was simply amazing. Included with the set is a 14 page booklet that gives chapter lists, a diagram of government organizations and characters and how they are connected, and various writings about the movie, the writer, and the director. It does a good job accompanying the interviews. Very nice.

Nice clean menus with the face of the of a Capitol Police officer's helmet blending with the head of a wolf. Menus are the same on both discs. Nothing too extravagant, just nice clean menus. That's enough for me.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Jin-Roh is a film that you won't see too many others like. It's set in the 1960's in an alternate history of Japan full of deception, conspiracy, and romance. The movie starts out with a brief telling of the new Japanese history starting at the end of World War II. It explains about the formation of anti-government groups that cause the formation of the Capitol Police Organization: a group of super police that are separate from most of the government. This caused the anti-government groups to join forces and form the Sect which leads into the opening riot scene.

Rioters and riot police are at a stand still. There's some rock throwing, but nothing major, then one of the Sect members throws a bag of explosives. This leads to the police charging the rioters and an all out battle ensues. As the riot gets more violent the movie starts to follow a young rebel girl who is carrying a satchel full of explosives. The girl sets off into the sewers with some other rebels, and the Capitol Police also set out. The girl is separated from the rest of the terrorists as they are slaughtered by the Capitol Police. She is soon discovered by an officer who was separated from the rest. As the rest of the officers approach, the lone officer hesitates to shoot and the girl detonates the explosives she is carrying.

This is where Fuse is introduced. He was the officer who first discovered the girl and his hesitation has put him in front of a committee to deicide his punishment, which ends up his having to go back to training. While visiting the grave of the girl who committed suicide, Fuse meets the young rebels sister and over time they become close. The story of their romance progresses from there. This is one part of the movie that is done as well or better than I've ever seen. It's not romance in the typical sense, because Fuse is almost 30 and she's in her teens. It's an awkward romance somewhere between a father daughter relationship and lovers. There's also a secondary story involving conflict within the Japanese government and Fuse being used as somewhat of a scapegoat for government officials who are trying to bring about change. There's talk about internal anti government groups even one within the Capitol Police called the wolf brigade, hence the title of the movie. The movie gets even more complex because these plots start to mix.

The cover and images I had seen gave me the impression this was going to be a bloody action packed film that would be graphically amazing, but not too heavy in the story department. Starting out it seemed I was right. There is definitely some very cool action in the beginning, but I was completely wrong as far as the rest goes. Jin-Roh does have good action at parts, but it really shines in it's telling of this odd romance. It's been a while since I've seen an anime movie that moved me, let alone a romance. This was a decently long movie as far as anime goes, but it flew by because I was completely engrossed by it. And what an amazing ending! Don't worry, there's no way I'm spoiling that.

This is definitely the best movie I have seen in a while and it's one I'm sure I'm going to watch numerous times. If you like your anime full of extras, buy the special edition. If you wait for those occasional anime movies that are truly great, at least get the regular edition. Check it out. It's well worth it.

Review Equipment
Magnavox 21" TV, Sony DVD-NS300 DVD Player, Sony STR-D865 Receiver, four Pioneer Speakers and sub-woofer.

Mania Grade: A+
Audio Rating: A+
Video Rating: A+
Packaging Rating: B+
Menus Rating: A
Extras Rating: A+
Age Rating: 12 & Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: Bandai Entertainment
MSRP: 59.99
Running time: 142
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Jin-Roh