Friday, March 27, 2009

Review | Anime | Wolf's Rain

WOLF'S RAIN : 200 years in the future, wolves have been
declared instinct on Earth, now ridden by wars. In reality, wolves still exist
by hiding themselves among humans by taking human form. When a rebellious
wolf named Kiba wanders into the city looking for the Lunar Flower of an
old wolf legend, three other wolves band together with him on a search for
the Paradise ruled by wolves. The obstacles that await their journey are
horrific woodland creatures, Paradise-seeking warlords, and a crazed wolf hunter
determined to rid the world of any and all wolves.

Wolf's Rain has gained widespread fame in the anime world, and though it's not the most cheerful anime available, it's definitely one of the most action-packed.

The world of Wolf's Rain exists two centuries from today's world, and it's exactly the future forewarned; wars, big and small, in every corner, with only the rich and highly-placed living comfortably. The tales of the four protagonists begin in a town called Freeze City, when in wanders Quent Yaiden, who has been obsessed with killing wolves since he witnessed a pack of wolves destroying his home and killing his wife and child. With the help of his wolf-detecting dog Blue, Quent travels from city to city checking every corner for traces of a wolf. This only gains him ridicule from citizens, who try to convince him wolves no longer exist, but Quent is well onto the fact that wolves have every capability of hiding amongst humans.

Simultaniously taking place are the tales of the city's only known wolf citizens, Hige, Toboe and Tsume, oblivious of each other's existences. They are finally brought together accidentally when a lone wolf named Kiba wanders into town, seeking the way to Paradise. He follows the scent of the Lunar Flower, the key to opening Paradise, which eventually puts him on the unfortunate path that leads him to Quent, who immediately shoots him. Kiba is not killed, but is discovered resting under a tree and is taken to a laboratory to be examined. After all, it's the strangest dog they've ever seen. The Lunar Flower turns out to be Cheza, a girl that is half human, half flower, that was created by a noble using a form of alchemy. Cheza's current state is an inconvenient one; suspended in the lab by tubes, and unconscious until she is awakened by Kiba's presence. It seems Kiba has finally found what he came for, until Chesa is kidnapped by Darcia, one of the three most powerful nobles known to the anime. In order to recover her from Darcia and his fiendish intentions, he ultimately meets Hige, Toboe and Tsume, who detect the Lunar Flower as well. They don't hit it off immediately; two are anti-social and prideful, one (the primarily disliked one) is a peacemaker, and one couldn't care less. The one thing keeping them together is their ultimate goal: Recover Cheza and unlock Paradise.

I am as great a fan of anime as I am its music, and I will be honest in saying that the soundtrack of Wolf's Rain remains one of the greatest anime soundtracks I've ever had the privilege to listen to. It was the opening theme, "Stray", that led me to begin the series, and it was the underscore that kept me connected. The music can be serene, haunting, mournful or mystical; a few songs have succeeded in containing all four key elements at once. One of my favorite anime composers, Yoko Kanno, lends her talents to the soundtrack with impressive blending of instruments and sounds, common for her music. Wolf's Rain also selects excellent vocalists, including anime regular Maaya Sakamoto, for its songs to narrate the wolves' stories with beautiful and idyllic lyrics. If the Wolf's Rain anime turns out to be the wrong cup of tea, I hope that will not discourage you from picking up its incredible soundtrack.

Wolf's Rain is a perfect blend of common fantasty and wartime conflict. Not being a mecha fan (at all), I was a little turned off by the use of mechanics at the beginning of the series, but my curiosity led me on. Despite my dislike for mecha, this series holds an excellent amount, only using mecha when it's needed to support the story, rather than using it just to show off the artists' free time or the animators' talent with shiny metal. The series requires lots of patience, however, as it is very slowly paced because of the complexity of the storyline. Kiba and his new pack have a long journey, and the producers are definitely making sure to chronicle every last detail down to the last bona fide meal our protagonists manage to scrape together.

If you're not the biggest fan of bloody violence, you may want to pass this one by. The series sports wartime violence and wolf/human, wolf/wolf conflicts. Wolves are consistently injured severely during battles and attain bloody, sometimes graphic, wounds. There are also conflicts involving several human characters; characters are shot, stabbed, blown up, and of course, attacked by wolves. Wolves are seen biting human body parts, mainly the neck and other vital regions, killing them. The series becomes bloodier as it nears its completion.

Wolf's Rain is a great blend of sci-fi fantasy and action, with plenty of guns thrown in, accompanied by mutated wildlife and a bleak depiction of the future of our planet. If you enjoyed Hayao Miyazaki's Princess Mononoke, this anime may be one for your list.

Overall Rating:
/ 5


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