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put on back burner

Jin-Roh

is a 1999 animated feature film directed by Hiroyuki Okiura. The film is an adaptation of Mamoru Oshii's Kerberos saga manga, Ken-Roh Densetsu.

Storyline

The movie opens in Tokyo with scenes of evening public antigovernment protests interspersed with an adolescent girl walking alone. This girl, Nanami Agawa, is revealed as a terrorist courier - nicknamed Little Red Riding Hood by the police - member of a guerrilla group known as "Sect". Her role is to deliver bombs in satchels, she makes her way to a delivery of one of the bombs to another Sect member hidden among regular protesters. The protest slowly turns into a riot, and the guerrilla flings the satchel bomb into the Self-Police lines, with the result that the Self-Police's antiriot squad charges to break up the riot.

Behind the Self-Police line stands a backup force. Instead of regular water cannon trucks, rubber-bullet guns and riot sticks, the military police - bearing the Shutokei (首都警 "Metropolitan Police") emblem - is equipped with armoured vehicles and submachine guns. From his command post carrier, vice-chief Hajime Handa sums up the situation to an adjutant, this joint operation is under jurisdiction of the Self-Police, M.P. is not supposed to join until assistance is requested.

The courier makes her way next to pick up another satchel to deliver, and then goes through the drain system to her next delivery. On the way, she spots heavily armed military police's 1st Assault Platoon - Panzer Cops - patrolling to find terrorists. She runs away. The Sect guerrillas moving equipment towards their next point are caught at a ladder up to the surface and they are slaughtered by the Panzer Cops when one, panicked, fires at the platoon.

The girl runs on for a while, until she is confronted by a Panzer Cop. The unexperienced brigadier is given an opening to shoot, though he is reluctant to open fire on an unarmed child and, as a result, hesitates for several seconds. The girl is afraid but determined; seeing she is caught, her only alternative is to blow herself up without warning. The brigadier survives the explosion solely because of his Protect-Gear and the quick actions of a fellow platoon member that tackled him prior to the blast. The brigadier takes off his mask after the smoke clears, and thus we are introduced to the main character, Kazuki Fuse. Meanwhile, above ground, the Self-Police (named "Metropolitan Police" in the English version) lose control of the riots after the lights go out - the power supply was cut by the explosion.

With the military police organization "Metropolitan Security Police" - aka "CAPO" for Capital Police in the English adaptation - embarrassed by the Kerberos unit's failure, a trial is held by the National Public Safety Commission to determine why Kazuki didn't fire. As a result, he is seen as the scapegoat and is sent back to the Kerberos academy for retraining, where he exhibits his skills. One day as he goes to visit the ashes of the suicide self-explosion victim, he meets a teenage girl, Kei, who claims to be the elder sister of the victim. They develop a casual relationship and spend time with each other, talking about leaving the city and starting a new life. Along the way, Fuse has nightmares about the incident in the sewers where he didn't shoot - seeing the little girl morph into Kei and being caught and devoured by a pack of wolves (an allegory for the later revealed Jin-Roh members). Kei Amemiya is eventually revealed to not be the suicide bomber's sister but instead a former bomb courier and a honey trap acting on behalf of the Kerberos's rival division Public Security - administered by Bunmei Muroto -, although a rather unwilling one.

A trap is set up where Kei calls Kazuki one night to say that strange men are following her. It was in fact a Self-Police and military police respective Public Security divisions joint-operation with the purpose to discredit the Kerberos unit, showing a terrorist passing a satchel bomb to a Panzer Cop. Kazuki sneaks in, seizes Kei -neutralizing Self-Police agents - and gets out of the place with the military police Public Security agents in pursuit. Eventually they throw off their followers and settle down for a while in a closed amusement park to wait. There it's shown that the relationship between Kei and Kazuki is more than just friendship after all (although it should be pointed that the love story revealing Kazuki's human side wasn't part of the original storyboard).

They make their way to the sewers once more, where other Jin-Roh members - a self-preservation secret unit among the Kerberos led by counter-intelligence former officer Hajime Handa - make their way to meet Kazuki and give him a full set of Protect-Gear, the Panzer Cop armor and weaponry, before getting out of the way with Kei in tow. The team leader is Hachiro Tobe, Kerberos academy instructor, who takes an electronic tracking device from Kei's satchel.

After following the tracking device, Atsushi Henmi - Muroto's subordinate and Kazuki's academy mate - and a platoon of military police Public Security agents make their way to the sewers and attempt to find Kazuki, without realizing that they are heading into a trap. Aided by the Jin-Roh members, Kazuki, with Protect-Gear and MG42 machinegun, slaughters the agents, with their leader, Henmi, killed last.

Eventually, they end up at a junkyard. Kazuki is ordered by Tohbe to kill his beloved Kei - it was safer to have her dead because then she couldn't be found by the Self-Police, and at the same time it would threaten the two Public Security divisions with the implications of Kei revealing her entire story - including the police-joint organized setup - to the press. Torn between his "human" feelings woke up by Kei and his loyalty to his pack - Jin-Roh aka the Wolf Brigade - Kazuki has to choose between the two. As Kei hugs him, tearfully quoting Little Red Riding Hood's dialogue, Kazuki fires a single close-range heart shot at her, as revealed by the smoke rising from the barrel of his Mauser C96. Off in the distance another member of the Wolf Brigade is seen manually uncocking his C96 as he was aiming at the pair. Quoting the final passage of Charles Perrault's Little Red Riding Hood version, the leader of the Wolf Brigade says, "...and then the Wolf ate up Little Red Riding Hood."

Characters

  • Kazuki Fuse
  • Kei Amemiya
  • Nanami Agawa
  • Bunmei Muroto
  • Atsushi Henmi
  • Isao Aniya
  • Shiro Tatsumi
  • Hajime Handa
  • Hachiro Tobe

Setting

The story is set in a parallel Japan, in the 1950s, and focuses on Kazuki Fuse, a member of the elite Kerberos Panzer Cops, a metropolitan antiterror unit equipped with heavy personal armor ("Protect-Gear"), Stahlhelm helmet enhanced with masks containing breathing and night-vision gear, and German-built MG42 machine guns. Trained to behave like a pack of dogs, hence the "Kerberos" term, Fuse confronts his own humanity when he fails to shoot a young female terrorist; the girl detonates a bomb in front of him, not only killing herself but bringing damage in the capital and undermining the unit's efficiency. Fuse strikes up an ill-fated romance with Kei -- a terrorist posing as the sister of the deceased -- whom he meets as she mourns her death.Political Background Jin-Roh features many references to the political situation in Japan during the 1960s and early 1970s. During this time there were massive student protests from the left-wing centered around (but not exclusive to) the U.S.-Japan Security Treaty (the ANPO Hantai movement). Mamoru Oshii along with Hayao Miyazaki and Isao Takahata were part of this political movement.

The references in Jin-Roh to Germany taking over Japan parallel the political fears of the time, where many left-wing political factions thought that the Fascists were returning to power. These fears were exacerbated by the assassination of the head of the Japan Socialist Party, Inejiro Asanuma, while addressing the Diet on live television. Fears were further exacerbated by the current head of the Japanese Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) Nobusuke Kishi who was a convicted war criminal. This general sense of turbulence is featured throughout the film.

The CAPO troops are an exaggeration of the special police forces that were set up in response to Article 9 of the Constitution of Japan, which forbade any military force, and political pressure from the United States to be prepared to fight the Communists. By the 1960s Japan had set up a virtual military under the title of a police force to circumvent this law. This form of military is exaggerated through the CAPO troops in Jin-Roh. The protesters are all in reference to the anti-ANPO student groups of the 1960s, who not only demanded a repeal of the security treaty but also fought for improved labor conditions and changes in economic and social policy. Eventually these groups fell apart due to infighting and a system of compromises between the government bureaucracy, labor, keiretsu, and the LDP).

Jin-Roh looks at this political situation as an allegory to the current state of Japan which is still ruled by the LDP with very little political opposition. This lack of opposition is shown by Fuse's inability to break from the "pack" in which he belongs, thus criticizing Japan as an overly conformist society unwilling to accept change even when times warrant it.

Production

Director Oshii had wanted to do Jin-Roh several years prior, and was about to propose the project to Bandai Visual at a meeting. However, they offered him to a job he could not turn down, so the project was put on back burner. The film he ended up making instead was Ghost in the Shell. In the end though, the condition set by Bandai Visual to produce the film was for Mamoru Oshii NOT to direct it, after the two live versions of the series, The Red Spectacles and Stray Dog: Kerberos Panzer Cops, did not sell very well. So he offered the job to Mr. Okiura, the animation supervisor who criticized Oshii's handling of accuracy in stage setting during the famed museum sequence featured in Ghost in the Shell. The only thing Mamoru Oshii did after writing the script was to write up additional agitation speech for the opening protest scene, just before the dubbing. He happened to be in the same building for re-mastering of Patlabor 2 the Movie.

The film's musical score was composed by Hajime Mizoguchi.

Design

The Kerberos saga officially started in 1987, as a radio drama series followed by a black and white live-action feature The Red Spectacles. Since then, it was adapted and extended to various media such as manga series, live-action films, anime films and radio dramas with recent novel, animation and short live-action film spin-off episodes.

Even though Jin-Roh is the last episode of the feature trilogy, its plot is actually a prequel as it relates events happening before the Kerberos Riot which is the starting point of the two other movies. Returning characters are Bunmei Muroto from The Red Spectacles and three others who previously appeared in the manga series Kerberos Panzer Cop, these are Isao Aniya, Tatsumi Shiro and Hajime Handa. The Kerberos and Little Riding Hood character concepts first appeared in the 1987 original radio drama While Waiting For The Red Spectacles. The featured fictitious organizations and groups as well as the Protect-Gear are key parts of Oshii's Kerberos saga, as are the Tachiguishi. The latter being not featured in Jin-Roh, which can be explained by the anime direction not assumed by the original story's creator but by another person. Artistic direction is partially different compared to the manga, variations include character design, most notably uniforms - which are Germanized to harmonize with the German warfare - as well as the Protect-Gear design which is slightly different than the manga version though. In the other hand parts of the general design are faithful to the manga, being vehicles or weapons.

Jin-Roh's Kazuki Fuse is inspired by StrayDogs Inui which was himself partially inspired by Toru Inui featured in Kerberos Panzer Cops Act 1. Fuse seems to be drawn after Yoshikatsu Fujiki, who played as Inui in the 1991 live-action film StrayDog. This Japanese actor does voice cast for Fuse and some of his facial expressions as Inui are used for the anime character. The similarity is obvious in both works' last, tragic, scene.

Jin-Roh was originally planned to be the third and final live-action feature film of the Kerberos trilogy, but its production wasn't possible until 1994, while Oshii was already working on Ghost In The Shell. As the filmmaker wasn't able to produce two films in the same time but didn't want someone else to direct his final episode, Oshii decided that the third episode would be an anime instead. He committed Jin-Roh as a debut film to a trusted young collaborator, Hiroyuki Okiura for he worked on animation movies such as Ghost In The Shell (character designer) and Patlabor 2 the Movie.

Interpretation

Jin-Roh borrows heavily and overtly from the tale of Little Red Riding Hood - the older, darker version that existed even before the Brothers Grimm and certainly before it was Bowdlerized and "cleaned up". The female terrorists who carry bombs for the Sect are known as "Red Riding Hoods," and Kei reads a bloody version of the tale to Fuse throughout the film.

The film itself, in fact, can be read as a modernized version of the old children's tale: Fuse appears to be at heart a wolf in human clothing - as evidenced by the scene where after practicing storming a building (and failing), Fuse is left as the only one among the cadets who is calm. The scene alternates with another scene where Tohbe (still in Panzer armor as the sole enemy during the exercise) is talking with Henmi. One of the topics is about how some people find comfort in reacting to the tough training like animals (here animal can be understood more as wolf than as mindless berserker). Plus, when asked by Kei as to why he joined the Panzer Cops, Fuse can only reply that it was because it was as though "I finally found a place where I belonged."

Kei is the real little red riding hood - though she is revealed to be an ex-terrorist courier herself, she is shown as being fundamentally youthful and human. She and Fuse are in love, but in the end he has to kill her against his will, since it was part of the plan that the Wolf Brigade devised to turn the trap for the Panzer Cops that was laid by the police. Fundamentally it shows that as in Little Red Riding Hood, humans and animals don't mix well together.

Aspects of Little Red Riding Hood may be seen in Fuse, as well. Initially, it is Fuse who is seduced by a stranger (Kei, taking the role of the wolf) and led into a trap. Fuse also removes his jacket for Kei's benefit, whereas Kei never symbolically sheds her clothing. In his hallucinations, it is Fuse who is helpless and scared as Little Red Riding Hood is torn to shreds, and echoes of this can be seen in the film's climax, in which Fuse exhibits remarkably unwolfish pain and shock when he kills Kei, as though he were simultaneously killing his own human aspect. This interpretation is strengthened by an excerpt from the film's version of Little Red Riding Hood, in which "she was forced to dress in iron clothes and was told: 'When you wear out those clothes, you can go back to your mother'".

In this interpretation, the grandmother is absent, although it is also possible to argue that the "grandmother" of this tale is also Fuse - or rather, who Kei thinks Fuse to be, not realizing that he is in fact the wolf of the story. However, since Fuse himself has had a troubled nightmare involving - besides Kei's death through a pack of wolves and Fuse in Panzer armor (minus helmet) shooting Kei - a scene where Fuse is sitting on a log, in a landscape filled with trees and snow, among other wolves. Thus, this also calls into doubt Fuse's essential character. The entire dream essentially is a premonition, forecasting the events to come.

The film is revealed to be a tragedy in the modern sense, where "the ground for the execution of tragedy" is moved "from the hubris of the individual tragic hero to the institutions, discourses and policies that shape the course of a character's life. The fate decreed from the gods of classical Greek tragedy is replaced by the will of institutions that shape the fate of the individual through policies and practices."

Media

Printed media

  • 2000.06: Jin-Roh Behind Of The Screen (official making book)

Japanese text, Mamoru Oshii, Production I.G, ISBN 4-04-853219-7

  • 2000.09: Jin-Roh Maniaxx (mook -magazine/book-)

Japanese text, Mamoru Oshii, Kadokawa Shoten, ISBN 4-87892-192-7

  • 2000.12: Jin-Roh Screenboard Book (official storyboard)

Japanese text, 522p., Hiroyuki Okiura, Production I.G
available in the L.E. DVD set only

Soundtrack

  • 2000.06: Jin-Roh Original Motion Pictures Soundtrack (CD)

Hajime Mizoguchi feat. Gabriela Robin, Members of Czech Philharmonic Orchestra, Victor Ent. VICL-60569

  • 2002.03: Jin-Roh: The Wolf Brigade Sound Track (CD)

Bandai Ent.
available in the L.E. DVD set only

Video

Standard Edition

  • 2000.12: Jin-Roh 人狼 (VHS Rental)

HF2.0 Japanese, Bandai Visual BER-250

  • 2001.01: Jin-Roh 人狼 (LD)

DD5.1 Japanese, DD2.0 English, Bandai Visual BELL-1541

  • 2001.XX: Jin-Roh 人狼 (VHS)

HF2.0 Japanese, Bandai Visual BER-750

  • 2002.02: Jin-Roh 人狼 (DVD)

DD5.1 Japanese, DD5.1 English, DD2.0 Japanese Bandai Visual

  • 2002.XX: Jin-Roh: The Wolf Brigade (DVD)

DTS2.0 Japanese, DD5.1 Japanese, DD5.1 English, Bandai Ent./Viz Com. BAN-1881

  • 2002.XX: Jin-Roh: Wolves In Human Armour (DVD)

DD5.1 Japanese, DD5.1 English, Siren Visual

  • 2007.07: Jin-Roh: The Wolf Brigade Special Edition (DVD)

DD5.1 Japanese, DTS5.1 Japanese, DD5.1 English, Madman Entertainment

Limited Edition

  • 2000.12: Jin-Roh 人狼 - DTS Edition (2DVD+1Book)

DTS5.1 Japanese, DD2.0 Japanese, Bandai Visual BCBA-0650

  • 2002.XX: Jin-Roh: The Wolf Brigade - Special Edition (2DVD+1CD)

DTS2.0 Japanese, DD5.1 Japanese, DD5.1 English, Bandai Ent./Viz Com. BAN-1882

  • 2005.09: Jin-Roh: The Wolf Brigade - Special Edition - Anime Legends (2DVD+1CD)

DTS2.0 Japanese, DD5.1 Japanese, DD5.1 English

Awards

Festival Year Result Award Category
Fant-Asia Film Festival 1999 2nd Best Asian Film Best Asian Film
Fantasporto 1999 Won Fantasia Section Award Best Film - Animation
Fantasporto 1999 Won International Fantasy Film Special Jury Award Special Jury Award
Fantasporto 1999 Nominated International Fantasy Film Award Best Film
Mainichi Film Concours 2000 Won Mainichi Film Concours Best Animated Film
Japanese Professional Movie Awards 2001 Won Special Award Special Award

References

Further reading

  • Gordon, Andrew (2003). A Modern History of Japan: From Tokugawa Times to the Present. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0195110609.
  • Gustav Horn, Carl (2002). "Frontiers of Total Filmmaking: Mamoru Oshii Creator of Jin-Roh." Pamphlet from DVD. Jin-Roh: the Wolf Brigade Special Edition.
  • Ruh, Brian (2004). Stray Dog of Anime: The Films of Mamoru Oshii. Palgrave Macmillan. ISBN 1-4039-6334-7.

External links

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