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» Cover

» Company
Bandai Entertainment
» Running Time
30 episodes, 7 DVD's
» Genre
Action, Drama, Fantasy, Adventure, Sci-Fi
» Type
TV Series
» Final Score
» User Rating
No user votes yet.

Wolf’s Rain

» written by Dark Wind [Discuss]

There is an old legend that speaks of a hidden paradise on Earth - a paradise only wolves can find. And while thought to have been extinct for hundreds of years, wolves still walk the Earth…hidden among mankind. Now, a group of outcast wolves set out to find Paradise: Kiba, Hige, Toboe, and Tsume. Each wolf is driven by their own personality and desires, but together they are pursued by humans seeking to quench their own thirst for power. A difficult and long journey lies ahead, with Paradise waiting to be found.

You can tell from my synopsis that Wolf’s Rain is very vague in its premise. It’s most definitely unique, and in that alone I commend it, as anime these days rarely try to break the boundaries of their genre, be it a giant robot or magical girl or tournament fighting anime. I also have a bias towards loving wolves, who I find to be fascinating creatures, and to see them done in anime like this is a treat unto itself. A further plus was the fact that a majority of the Cowboy Bebop staff worked on Wolf’s Rain, chief among them scriptwriters Keiko Nobumoto and Dai Sato and musical composer Yoko Kanno. Yoko Kanno alone is reason enough to watch any anime, the fact that animation studio BONES (RahXephon, Cowboy Bebop: The Movie) is behind the animation is just icing on the cake. I’ll also add that Wolf’s Rain (and previously Cowboy Bebop) character designer Toshihiro Kawamoto is a favorite among anime character designers for me; his penchant for adult-looking, realistically-proportioned people is a rarity, and I’m glad that he’s on board.

As you can clearly see, Wolf’s Rain has a lot going for it and a high pedigree that shows a lot of potential. And with this mix we have one of my favorite anime of all-time. It currently sits in my top 15, which is saying a lot considering the amount of anime I’ve seen. And every time I rewatch it I enjoy it more. The idea that wolves will lead the world to paradise is an interesting premise, the fact that they hide themselves among mankind by casting a spell on people is doubly intriguing (to explain: the wolf characters in the show have human forms…sort of. If you look at their footprints in the snow and their shadows on walls, they appear to be wolves. They are merely casting a spell when they want to make people perceive them as humans. This is because they are being hunted by humans because the humans fear that having the wolves bring paradise will end their current world, so killing all the wolves will stop this and save their world).

It should be noted that Wolf’s Rain is more drama and plot than action. When action does appear, it kicks copious amounts of ass, because the wolves are given superhuman abilities of jumping and speed. When they use these abilities in their human form, it looks awesome. The animation certainly helps matters: it’s crisp, fluid, and detailed, just what is expected from BONES. Yoko Kanno’s music is far removed from anything she’s done before, she defines it as “brazilian with flamenco sensibilities” and you can tell with the peppered bits of spanish instruments strewn about the various musical tracks. I personally loved the music so much I went out and bought the soundtrack, and I think this is one of her best works ever, only being surpassed by Cowboy Bebop and maybe Escaflowne: The Movie.

The story itself is a road trip show in a sense, as the four main wolves are constantly on the move from one place to the next while the search for paradise. The secondary characters (which receive excellent backgrounds in their own right) are also constantly moving, either one step ahead or behind the wolves. Since the story is heavy on religion and mysticism and tribal/pack aspects, the plot tends to be vague for the most part. You either have to buy into what they are telling you or not. You can’t make sense of it because it isn’t meant to, and this will probably be the biggest hurdle for you to get over. There is no rational explanation why wolves are the ones that lead the world to paradise, they just are. There’s no reason why wolves have the abilities they do, like casting a spell on all humans or having the abilities they do….they just do. If one can get past these things, you will be enveloped into one of the most engrossing anime I’ve ever seen.

The Breakdown
Wolf’s Rain is easily one of the best things I’ve seen, anime or not. It’s mature, takes itself moderately seriously, enjoys what its telling us, and has a couple of important things to say about the state of man in accordance with nature. It’s one hell of a ride with an extremely bittersweet ending, and the production values are off the charts. If people can attain a certain suspension of disbelief, then there is no reason, I think, that you wouldn’t enjoy this anime. Give at least the first volume a shot to see if its your thing (it has five episodes on it, which is just enough to judge whether this is for you or not).


» The Pros
Wonderful production values, chief among them excellent animation and breathtaking music, along with strong, interesting characters and an intriguing story driven by actual plot and sensible motivations rather than deus ex machinas and story cliches. Extremely different and more mature than most anime out there, giving you something unqiue, which is always a plus if done well, which it is here.

» The Cons
The show requires a heavy suspension of disbelief that some viewers might have a problem doing. The secondary characters are more interesting than the main wolves (which might be on purpose...showing the difference between simplistic wolves and the overly complicated humans, which make up the secondary cast). There's also not much background given to the vague, somewhat abstract story, but that's sort of the point, but it's still frustrating, especially the ending, which goes unexplained.

» Animation
As I was praising in my review, studio BONES animation is picture perfect, with every cell perfectly animated and detailed, and nothing is lost in quality from one episode to the next. Toshihiro Kawamoto's character designs come through wonderfully. The only thing I would complain about is the atrocious airship designs and airship battles. These are very few and very far between, but they look extremely poorly and don't mesh AT ALL with the wonderful animation of the rest of the show. I'm not sure what happened there, but beyond that, excellent animation all around.

» Sound
Again, I can't reiterate enough the excellent work Yoko Kanno and her team has done for Wolf's Rain. The music here is simply astounding, and some songs on the accompanying soundtrack I can't stop listening to (chief among them "Strangers"). The mix of spanish instruments with guitar and soft, ethereal vocals really adds to the shows atmosphere, and I can't for the life of me find one complaint about the music.

» Story
It has wolves! Isn't that enough? If not, the story is more about concepts than explanations, and I'm willing to accept that and just enjoy the ride. There are lots of twists and turns, and characters grow and change as the story progresses. This isn't false character growth here; the people in Wolf's Rain actually change according to events in the show, a concept some anime can never grasp. That alone is worth watching.

» Recommend
Wolf's Rain is a must buy, in my opinion. I think anyone who has even the slightest bit of ability to take something seriously will find enjoyment in this show. It breaks conventions, mixes things up a bit, and ultimately delivers something you probably haven't seen before. It's also top notch in every producion aspect, which increases the enjoyment and envelopes you better into the story. Give at least volume one a go, if nothing else.


» Other Information
Language: English/Japanese with English Subtitles

The extras varied from volume to volume, some of which had staff and cast interviews, along with promotional trailers and textless opening and ending sequences. The boxed set has all the extras that were on each individual DVD release, as far as I know, so either way you're getting everything.

Each individual DVD release had a really nice, stark white background with characters in sketch form imposed on top of it, which looked really classy and really caught the eye. The boxed set collection that was just recently put out isn't so great, as it's in misshapen box format with a seperate base and crummy animation shots of the characters on each side of the box. Just look at the picture provided in this review to get what I mean.



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