Review: Jin-Roh (1998)

Directed by:

Distributed in Australia by:

When I first saw Jin-Roh two years ago at the original Anime festival in Sydney, the producer (I think) introduced the film. In this introduction he mentioned how, when they were making this film, there was a difference of opinion in the overall vision of the film between three key creative members. I believe one wanted a retelling of Red Riding Hood, another wanted something similar with a romantic plot involving the Wolf and Miss Red, and the last one I can’t fully remember.

Anyway, my point is, that with this thought sitting in the back of my mind, I really couldn’t help but notice that the film seemed to go through the three acts that seemed to pander to these three visions and by doing so, lose a bit of coherency. It felt somewhat like watching the original From Dusk til Dawn where right in the middle of the movie, you just knew a different person had taken creative control of the film.

the three acts as well, the most ponderous was the middle one. After the initial introduction, the film starts strongly with the normal police suppressing a riot while Kerebus do an operation to take out a group of terrorists inciting the riot. This gets the audience going looking forward to an action packed film akin to Ghost in the Shell (for which some of the creators can claim in their filmography).

ever, what instead happens is the film just drops off with Fuzei’s suspension and retraining. Fuzei is a character who epitomises the strong silent type. When he meets with Red Riding Hood (sorry, can’t remember if she actually had a name) and the sparks fly, she does all the talking and he stands around creasing his eyebrows every now and then. OK, exaggerating slightly as Fuzei is actually animated quite well but in essence it was a dull courtship.

goes on around them is where the meat of the film is. The political manoeuvring and the factioning was great. I’m not sure if I mentioned it in the Synopsis but this is set quite a while after the establishment of Kerebus and people are starting to reap the awards of economic growth and questioning whether a heavily armed paramilitary group under the purview of keeping the peace is a good thing to keep around. Rivalries and jealousies surface and everyone is jockeying to stay on top. I just wish there was some kind of cue for the audience to drop off when the romantic subplot came back on. Kind of like watching Episode 2 now that I think about it…

And it is this political manoeuvring that takes the spotlight in the final act. And it was for this reason alone that may justify sitting through the last half hour. I won’t say much more in fear of giving away too much but I assure you there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

The style of the film is very realistic akin to the non mecha parts of the Patlabor features and has the look of something that could have quite feasibly been filmed instead of animated. This muted look is very appropriate for the oppressive nature of the film and scenes of marching Kerebus legions with their glowing nightvision goggles are some very memorable scenes evoking many a fascist’s wet dream.

So overall, a film that has a solid start and great end. The middle is where the film falls over with scenes that flip between intriguing and dull. It is however a beautiful film to watch though it does tend to be overly violent at times but then the central focus of the film is about a heavily armed legion of policeman and to remove the violence would undermine the repercussions of their existence.

7 wolves before grandmothers out of 10.
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