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Ten years after the end of World War II; anti-terror policeman Fuse gets suspended from service after the suicide by self-detonation of a young terrorist girl during an operation, as he failed to shoot her in time. When he tries to gather some information about her, he meets her sister and befriends with her. Both get dragged into the rivalries between the administration of the police and the counter terrorism commando unit 'Jin Roh' (human wolves).Written by
Moritz Muehlenhoff <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Watching this, it is important to make an overlooked distinction between Western and Japanese animation: while the former is often also considered as a genre and calls to mind a specific type of audience and story, the latter is purely a format. Many a film out there in the realm of anime could have been made as a live-action feature, even though in cases like Akira or Ghost in the Shell, the budget would have been prohibitive.
This distinction is particularly interesting to apply to Jin Roh: this could well have been live-action, and since its story, themes and execution put it well outside the Western boundaries for animation we need to ask ourselves why it is not only particularly suited to that medium, but can easily be counted among the finest animated features of all time.
Drawing countless parallels with the tale of Little Red Riding Hood - the original, somewhat pessimistic version - Jin Roh explores two characters on an inevitable collision course: a traumatized, counter-terrorist elite soldier and a young, female future suicide-bomber. Given the subject-matter, it is surprisingly apolitical, not siding with either faction or even exploring the roots of terrorism within the context of this story. In fact, to great and horrifying effect, it is more concerned with the mundane nature of it all, and the dehumanizing effect of their roles on the respective characters. This is a world without redemption, where the only choice is between embracing your role, or drifting off into an abyss.
Telling this very specific story through animation elevates it into a myth, into a horribly grounded adaptation of that ultimate suspicious authority-rejecting cautionary fairytale. Perhaps there is no grandma or little red riding hood, only wolves in people's clothing. It's hard to imagine a live-action version of Fuse's empty stare that could ever conjure the effect deployed here.
Finally, Jin Roh was the last fully hand-drawn Japanese animated feature (1999), and it uses its broad array of technical tool with a mastery and restrain that puts even a Pixar or Studio Gibli to shame.
If you want monsters and heroes and magic, go see something else... This is a moving example of how a good story incredibly well told can rip your heart out. A must-see!
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