Jin-Roh: The Wolf Brigade (Jin-Rô) was the directing debut of Hiroyuki Okiura, a man who has become known for his amazing animation abilities. It is a full-length feature anime that was, as many are, first published as a manga. It was released in 1999 and was well-received everywhere it went. The story, based loosely on the original tale of Little Red Riding Hood, is one of love, of war, and of betrayal.
The movie is set in a fictional Japan, directly after World War II. Japan, in the story, has become a state that is near civil war. The government has created a police force known as the Wolf Brigade in order to go against the “renegades”. These so-called renegades are really revolutionary people who are trying to break free of the government’s restrictions. In the opening of the movie, there is a girl dressed in a red cloak and carrying a basket that is moving along between troops. When she throws her basket it is apparent that there are bombs, not treats, in the baskets. This is the work of the renegades. They have children dress innocently in order to delivery bombs to the troops.
The girl in the opening, Nanami Agawa, comes upon a lone police man. He has the chance to shoot her, but is reluctant to shoot a child. When he hesitates to take the shot, Nanami takes the opportunity and blows herself up using one of her bombs. A shaken Kazuki is eventually taken to task for his refusal to shoot and is sent back to training.
When he is there, he is haunted by the memory of the girl who blew herself up in front of him. He goes to visit the burial site and happens upon a teen named Kei Anemiya, who says that she is Nanami’s older sister. They spend a lot of time together and Kazuki falls in love with her.
One evening, Kei calls Kazuki, scared, and tells him that there are strange men following her. It is supposed to be a trap, as Kei is not truly Nanami’s older sister, but has been planted by the rebels to gather information and to kill Kazuki. Kazuki, though, disposes of the agents following Kei and rescues her. Things are not all as they seem, though, in this tragic fairy tale story. In the end, Kazuki ends up having to choose between his pack, and his love for Kei.
The amount of symbolism in Jin-Roh is too numerous to be listed. Every time the viewer turns around, they see something to remind them of the original Little Red Riding Hood. Most animes have quite a bit of action and movement, but Jin-Roh is one of the first to use awkward silences as a tool to further the story. For a good portion of the film you can almost feel the tension between Kazuki and Kei, as well as from his Wolf Brigade brothers.