11 August 2005 | genrebusters
First Class Cinema
Jin-Roh is one of those few animated films that not only transcends the boundaries of it's medium, but also displays more emotion, heart and depth than most live-action dramas. It is a film that destroys any preconceived notions any audience might have about the true power of animation and how much emotion "mere" drawings can convey. Upon viewing this great film one might ask why it was even animated in the first place. It probably would have been cheaper and easier to produce as a live-action feature, but herein lays the beauty of this sublime film: it is the strength and integrity of its animation that emphasize the dark, mysterious and surreal themes of the picture.
Jin-Roh was written by legendary Japanese director/writer/producer/animator Mamoru Oshii and directed by the freshman Hiroyuki Okiura. However, make no mistake about it, Jin-Roh looks, feels and IS an Oshii film, even having its gorgeous score written by long time Oshii partner Kenji Kawai. Jin-Roh explores the themes often touched upon by Oshii. Themes of human beings becoming detached alienated and threatened by the very technologies and societies they themselves have created.
Jin-Roh is, quite loosely, based upon the childhood story of Little Red Riding hood. It is set in an alternate reality where after WWII, Japan is under complete Martial Law becoming little more than a police-society upset by constant social unrest, political terrorism, and near civil war. The government set up the ultimate police force, the Wolf Brigade to combat the thousands of citizens fighting for economic stability, social justice and their identity as a nation ravaged by warfare. The revolutionaries have a special "unit" of terrorists that resemble Little Red Riding Hood. These girls dressed in red cloaks deliver baskets, baskets full of bombs, to their evil wolf-like Grandmother, the Wolf Brigade.
Although this story could have easily set itself up to be a military action-thriller, what transpires is nothing short of a harsh, tragic love story between one of the "hoods" and the very "wolf" she so desperately wants to kill. With that being said, Jin-Roh is, with out doubt, one of the most depressing journeys into the psyche of a soldier blinded by his idealistic, oppressive leaders, and a social revolutionist numb to life after years of civil and social unrest.
While watching live-action films it is easy to forget about all the craftsmanship that went into creating the final picture: it easier to view the film as an entity within itself. This is not the case with well-crafted animation. The viewer is constantly aware of the vast amounts of detail, heart and soul that were poured into each and every frame. Animation should be regarded as the pan-ultimate art form. Animated features are the only form of art to incorporate all of the major media: Film, acting, painting, writing and music. And Jin-Roh is a work of fine art when it comes to all of these aspects. The animation is smooth and natural, almost having a roto-scoped feel to it, the music is as moody, beautiful and moving as any soundtrack ever recorded, the director and layout artists worked together to craft each shot with the utmost care, and the script and it's delivery are near flawless.
If there is anyone out there who doubts the emotional power of mature, adult animation, then I challenge you to view Jin-Roh and not walk away marked by its brilliance. Once again Oshii has proved that animation, when done correctly, is not only beautiful, but it can also strengthen an already strong story and theme.