"MADNESS COMES FROM FAIRY TALES"
-Political grafitti, postwar Germany
Uncompromising is the word for JIN-ROH: THE WOLF BRIGADE. The best Japanese animated film since Hayao Miyazaki's PRINCESS MONONOKE or Hideaki Anno's THE END OF EVANGELION, JIN-ROH may be fairly counted as the last great anime film of the 20th century-or perhaps the first great one of the 21st. A remarkable collaboration between two generations of filmmakers, JIN-ROH marries a hard-hearted script by Mamoru Oshii-the internationally acclaimed maker of GHOST IN THE SHELL-with the vérité direction of Hiroyuki Okiura, assistant to Oshii on GHOST.
An ominous new child of its pedigree, JIN-ROH goes to places beyond GHOST IN THE SHELL. Its protagonist is not another Major Kusanagi, GHOST's cold and unsatisfied government cyborg looking to ascend to virtual angelhood. Like Kusanagi, JIN-ROH's Constable Kazuki Fuse (said "foo-seh") is a special-forces operative who kills in the name of the law. Like Kusanagi, he doubts the worth of his humanity. But unlike Kusanagi, Fuse is yet a man of flesh and blood, and he still remains human enough to feel cold-to be frightened-and to seek, with quiet desperation, to be absolved.
JIN-ROH's setting is Tokyo-not the Tokyo of the future, but of an alternate past. In the bizarre, ironic tradition of Philip K. Dick's THE MAN IN THE HIGH CASTLE, JIN-ROH presents a Japan that lost a different Second World War-not to America, but to Nazi Germany. Now, more than ten years after the defeat, the occupation troops have left, but their legacy is JIN-ROH's twilight-zone city where the domestic terrorism of "The Sect" plays out in everyday bombings and street battles against the counterterrorist Capital Police-and their elite armored, helmeted, and red-goggled Special Unit.
One night in the sewers below Tokyo, Fuse and the men of the Special Unit confront a fleeing band of Sect members. Fuse has his gun out and aimed at one among their number, a young girl carrying an explosive satchel charge. He should shoot her. He means to shoot her. But in his hesitation, she detonates the bomb, and in the weeks that follow, Fuse falls under investigation by his superiors, even as he feels compelled to seek out the identity of the terrorist he failed to kill.
Her name was Nanami, and the young radical now haunts Fuse in double exposure: in the living face of her older sister, Kei, whom he tracks down, and with whom he begins a love affair-and as an unquiet spirit, in Fuse's dreams…of a girl pursued, and torn apart by wolves. Fuse is paranoid of himself most of all…yet there is still more to fear.
JIN-ROH has as its subtitle, "The Wolf Brigade"-after the name of a rumored inner cabal within the faction-ridden Capital Police. The literal meaning of jin-roh is "man-wolf. " This is not the term, okami-otoko, that the Japanese use to refer to a werewolf, and indeed, writer Oshii is concerned in this film with a different myth, that of Little Red Riding Hood-or rather, the more sinister, original version of the story known in Grimm's Fairy Tales as Rotkäppchen.
The movie JIN-ROH is about those in society who are predators among prey. But these "beasts" never bother to change their shape; like Red Riding Hood's wolf, they merely drape themselves with human clothes that do not even disguise the eyes, teeth and claws of a killer. Society rightly fears them. In JIN-ROH the Capital Police are themselves hunted-marked for elimination as a force by their own government, and by a public eager to forget the past and look the other way from the present. So what is it then, writer Oshii asks, that draws the human ever closer-when she can see that the wolf hides nothing?
Jin-Roh © 1998 Mamoru Oshii/Bandai Visual/Production I.G. All rights reserved.