It took over a year to get all of Wolf's Rain released. Wolf's Rain episode 1 was the first thing that I had ever bittorrented. And not since Evangelion had I fallen so head over heels in love with a show based on one half hour clip of storytelling. But unlike Eva, Wolf's Rain kinda failed to deliver in the end.
I'm warning you up front, I'm gonna spoil the ever-living shit out of this show during the course of this review. Not because it sucks (it doesn't really), but because the show, along with my feelings about it, is very complicated. Lots of characters, lots of interactions, lots of inner and outer journeys, and lots of pot smoking (mostly done by the writers).
The first episode is a great introduction to the cast and to the setting. Everything appears to take place in Northern Russia (it's always snowing and the clothes are uber-Eastern European/Western Asian) near the End of Days. It seems that the world is dying, but nothing can be done to stop the decay. People have lost all hope, especially since the only creatures that can lead to way to Paradise (when the world finally goes ka-put) are wolves... And they're supposedly extinct. But, like all great stories, things aren't always as they appear. Wolves do in fact still live, but they're not the kind of wolves that we know and think are all cute and such today. The wolves in Wolf's Rain are all sentient creatures with minds more cunning than man and the ability to change their shape into human form in order to stay hidden from those who wish to hunt them. Good stuff so far.
We are introduced to the wolves Tsuge (leather clad, annoying chest-wound dude), Kiba (the white wolf, alternative looking annoying guy), Tomoe (the young annoying one), and Hige (the annoying fat fuck)... I guess being a dick is a wolf trait. Who knew? Anyway, aside from the wolves we meet a few humans and a flower girl (not a girl who sells flowers, but one who IS a flower... Yeah, I know. Trippy). The main humans are a recently split up husband and wife team (Cher, the hottie wife, being the only one I cared about), and an old hunter with the big black dog with blue eyes who likes to hunt wolves for sport and vengeance. Kind of like what Carl and I do with some BB guns and Jimmy Jammer in the woods behind my house one Saturday night every month.
The wolves are seeking Cheza, the genetically created flower-girl, because she is supposed to show them the path to Paradise. The saying goes that at the end of the world wolves will lead the way to Paradise (just reitterating that to make it perfectly clear). It is not known what Paradise truly is, if it exists, or if humans are even allowed to go there, but some humans just don't like to ask these questions. The nobles have put all of their resources into finding Paradise and have even forsaken their own peasants to do so. At least I think that's what was happening. Lots of characters, lots of motivation by the middle of the series.
Pretty good so far, neh? I mean, I was pretty jazzed by this point to see where the whole thing was going. I was following the wolf pack week by week to see what kind of shit they'd fall into in each new episode... but then nothing ever happened. Let me explain (you'll get used to me saying that a few more times before this review is done). After the feral fang gang gets together they head out on their quest to find Cheza and then Paradise. This is when the show turns into a road movie. Well, it's actually a fairy tale first (think Brothers Grimm), road movie second. The way that the characters meet, the people, things and diversions that pop up in front of the wolves on their journey, and the supporting cast that keeps up with the action (maybe just one or two steps behind) feels like some middle-ages old German wrote it before completing his work on Little Red Riding Hood. It just REEKS of "Fairy Tale Vibes". That's a good thing. What's not so good is the "road movie" aspect of the plot. After a while the chase (with either the wolves being the chasers or chasees dependingly) simply turns into "deterrent of the week". They're on their quest, a side quest or diversion appears, the side quest is completed, the main trek to Paradise continues. It becomes as predictable as the MegaPlayboy's rectal expulsions after a night feasting at the Caliente Cab. Just not as deadly.
Add to the fact that there was an entire MONTH in which Studio Bones ran behind on their schedule and had to use recaps (four lousy recaps in a row!) and my enthusiasm in Wolf's Rain slowed down to a crawl. Though things did pick back up in the early 20s, episode wise. The story was coming to a head, betrayals by annoying characters were tearing the group apart, and the human personas were starting to realize their place in the whole Paradise legend. Then the final episode aired on TV... and although it kinda ended things, it reeeeeally left a lot wide open, like Tammi With an "I"'s legs backstage after an Aerosmith concert. But, being in the know I already knew that Studio Bones planned to release 4 OVA episodes to complete the series once everything was out on DVD. This was of course to make up for the really shitty recaps (4 IN A ROW) that we, the viewers, had to endure. Man that just sucked.
Truth be told, I was really jazzed about the idea of 4 more, high quality animation episodes were eventually going to be released!... But then I found out that Bones had pulled away some of its resources from the already in full production Scrapped Princess, in order to complete the final WR eps by delivery date (honestly, I don't know if this is why Scrapped Princess' ending is so goddamn rushed and shitacular, but I have a major fanboy hunch). I was pissed, sure, but if they pulled an infuckingcredible-tastic Wolfy finale out of their asses I would find it in my heart to forgive them.
Well, I don't forgive them. It had been more than 12 full months since Wolf's Rain had first been broadcast till the time that I saw the final four eps... And I was not/am not too happy. After Darcia (or whatever that evil-eyed guy's name was) left the scene, the wolves and humans meet up and continue on their Paradise quest, and things move along pretty roughly. I had come to my own conclusion that there was only one way that this thing could end, and it did not allow for a happy ending for everybody (as is required by all fairy tales). But what Bones had given us didn't leave room for ANYBODY to be happy, least of all the viewer. I figured that most of the characters would die, one by one, but a few would make it to the wolves' Paradise, whether they deserved it or not. What we get though is an ending where EVERYBODY dies all at once (not even one by one really) and NOBODY makes it to Paradise. I'm all for pessimistic views of life and the world at large, but this was just overkill. Definitely not worth two less episodes of Scrapped Princess. What a cock blow...
Urgh! But, other than a less than tastefull ending, WR had lots of things to make it almost classic. The character designs were all appealing (if you can get past the sharp noses on all the humans), the animation quality was almost always extremely high (almost full-time OVA quality), and Yoko Kanno's music is just to die for. The emotions that she can stir up with just a few notes from a piano is simply incredible. I want to capture her, place her in my basement with nothing but a bed and a piano, and make her play for me forever!... But I think I just blew that dream by posting it here (if she ever disappears you just know that the cops would search my place first now). Bummer.
Everything with this production screamed "perfection", except the darkness of the plot itself. Let me explain here. I love fairy tales, the old original ones and not the Disneyfied modern ones. The ones where good doesn't always win. The ones where even if good wins it's still tainted by what evil did to it. The dark fairy tales told to children who were apparently a lot stronger minded than the pussies we're breeding today with all the "happily ever after" endings we're crapping out for them. I love the darkness... But what Wolf's Rain gives to us is not a dark fairy tale, it's a depressingly bleak one. One without any hope in the end (and don't get me started with that whole "the end is really the beginning as it's the opening animation," 'cause that's just bullshit). Hope is essential when writing a tale such as this. Just like Pandora found out after opening her precious box into the world. Even with just a little hope in a story we can stay focused and care about anything. Take that away and you take away all interest in the characters and their chronicles.
Wolfman Rock TV! Arrroooooooooooooo! Yeah! Hail the furry beast! Any goddamn show that features the fanged, four-legged creatures of the night as the main characters is okay by this here Wolfman.
What more can be said here?... Hmmmm, I liked when the wolves bit things... And drew blood. They were vicious mo-fos. Except that tubby one. He sucked. But that chick wolf was pretty hot. IN HER HUMAN FORM, ya perv. The Wolfman may like beastly canines, but he ain't no fuckin' sicko. Jeezus!
So, it was a pretty sly show. I dug it. Arroooooooooooooo!!!! Bark at the moon! Hail Ozzy!
I think these animators need a history lesson. Well, a "future" lesson for them, but "history" from me. I would gladly educate them if given the chance.
See, there was an apocalyptic war that took place a long time ago from my time (just a couple more years into the future for the Rossman in his time though), and the whole world was indeed turned into a giant Siberian wasteland. No way around that. But the fact that they think that wolves will be the creatures to lead the world into a self fulfilling "paradise" is just sickening.
You see, after the apocalypse, all canine creatures on the planet get mutated into gigantic fanged beasts with insatiable appetites for human flesh. Yes, even Chihuahuas and cute little Poodles become the Devil's enforcers. Now, these creatures cannot even be considered "werewolves" as you might know them, since werewolves aren't normally known for their cock and balls to be the size of small children, nor are they recognized for having tentacles that can grab, shake and rip apart small children like those tasty two-sticked popsicles that are so prevalent in your time. No, these demon-dogs of the apocalypse are just evil sons of bitches that science has created in mocking disdain for all things living. They do not turn human in order to trick us (they actually prefer to jump out of the bushes in their full hideousness in order to get people to urinate their own trousers... Some historians think that sniffing human urine was actually a "high" for them). Nor do they talk our languages. They mainly just grunt and sometimes utter things that sound like "Lovely day" but are actually just utterances in their own tongue that mean something along the lines of "I'm going to eat your groin."