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JIN-ROH

Japan, 1999 (MIFF 2000, Animatrix)

Director: Hiroyuki Okiura

Jin-Roh is set in an alternative universe where, in Tokyo of the 1950s, advanced technology already abounds. A totalitarian government is ruthlessly crushing dissident activists. Our protagonist is Kazuki Fuse, a member of the Kerberos, a heavily armed Special Unit trained to crush resistance. While on a mission to eliminate the members of an anti-government group hiding in the sewer system, he corners a young member of The Sect. Forced to gun the girl down before she detonates a bomb, Fuse is haunted by her death. A near nervous collapse and an obsessive search ironically leads him to her sister, with whom he begins an unlikely relationship—both of them sharing the same loneliness and despair. Behind the girl's innocence lurks a plot more complex than Fuse could have imagined, a scheme woven by a shadowy vigilante force known as Jin-Roh (The Wolf Brigade).

"Hiroyuki Okiura's Jin-Roh is the most interesting Japanese anime since Otomo's Memories (MIFF 1996). The irony on which Oshii Mamoru's brilliant script rests is that the more Fuse is drawn into the legend, the more he identifies with the wolf. It's as if Angela Carter's work on lupine myth were reread from a male point of view. Okiura has crafted something very different from genre norms. Jin-Roh centres on the humanisation of a macho killer... but the film reads its complex plot and back-story through the story of Little Red Riding Hood, producing a set of disquieting and ultimately very moving ambiguities. In this remarkable vision, even the explosions and spasms of violence are thoughtful. —Tony Rayns

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