Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Anime Review: Wolf's Rain

Wolf’s Rain is one of those titles that is well-beloved in the American anime fandom (probably because it aired on Adult Swim which means a lot of people saw it and a lot of people are nostalgic about it) so I’ve heard a lot about it. Some people consider it the best thing ever while others have declared it prentious and, with such strong opinions such as those, I’ve been a little hesitant to check it out. But I saw the first few episodes back in September or August, liked them, and have been meaning to see the rest of the series for a while (would’ve done it sooner if another friend hadn’t loaned me Shakugana no Shana first) so might as well see it sooner rather than later.

Wolf’s Rain

Summary: In a far off future, humanity is dying and the world is dying. The only hope for survival is a mythical paradise that can only be opened by the wolves who have, supposedly, been extinct for 200 years. But in reality the wolves are hiding in plain sight, looking just like humans, and they have been searching for paradise all this time. But it’s until they stumble across Cheza, a girl made from a mysterious flower, than they even have a shot of finding paradise.

The Good: As funny as it sounds, the wolves managed to feel like both human characters and yet not too human at the same time, you could still remember that they were in fact wolves. That must’ve been a rather hard balance to maintain but it’s done well, they are certainly sympathetic yet not as human characters. And the human characters that get the most attention (*guy, girl and hunter*) are also very well fleshed out by the end of the story and despite their failings they too are very sympathetic characters. Setting of the story was used well and the ending (well, at least the bits I understood) was truly the only satisfactory ending the story could give.

The Bad: I’m still not 100% what the ending was about and that is bothering me. Even with Utena I was fairly sure what the ending was about but the very last scene just threw me off (and that’s after reading spoilers about it too!). And for some reason, that thrill I felt watching the first couple of episodes the first time didn’t come back to me and I was bored or annoyed by a lot of the series. Maybe I wasn’t in the right mood for depressing stories but I just couldn’t connect to the characters, maybe because I knew it was going to have an unhappy ending anyway. So I don’t feel the need to rewatch this series within the next few years and for me that’s generally a bad sign about a show.

The Art: All of the art work involving the wolves looked super realistic and, since wolves must be harder to animate than humans, I wonder if that’s why the characters looked human for most of the series. It did bother me that that still looked human even when there was no one else there but I’ll accept the animation reason for that. Other than that, this is a BONES work (their very first I believe, this is half of the Cowboy Bebop team) and it’s an amazingly strong first work overall, kudos to them.

The Music: I’ve seen a few Yoko Kanno works before (Escaflowne movie, the first season of Darker than Black) and her music just didn’t strike a cord with me. But here I tried to really listen to the music, it’s placement, all of that and yeah, I’m really impressed now. It was all perfectly placed, a lot of times it just slides in so it’s not until halfway through the piece you realize that you’re even listening to anything at all and the sound track is multi-lingual so I’m even more impressed that she managed all of that. But anyone could’ve told you she was brilliant so don’t just take my word for it.

So, I enjoyed parts of the series but not the series as a whole when I was watching it and I might like it more on a rewatch. Still, don't feel like rewatching it anytime soon, off to the next old-school anime!

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