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Japan, 1998
[Hiroyuki Okiura]
Michael Dobson, Mike Kopsa, Moneca Stori (voices)
Action / Anime
In the alternate Japan of Jin-Rô, events after WW2 took a very different turn to the ones we know. In the years after American occupation, political infighting spiraled out of control and terrorist groups sprang up throughout the land. A special arm of the police force was set up to counter this insurgency, but soon fell victim to divisions within the law enforcement agencies themselves. When unit member Fuse is unable to shoot a ‘Red Riding Hood’, one of the child bomb couriers used by the terrorists, and she sets off her package, he becomes a weak link and a target for those trying to have the force disbanded. Matters aren’t helped by him falling for the suicide bomber’s sister.

The mood of Jin-Rô is a brave alternative to the brash, explosive style of many other animes. Although the story concerns terrorism and police corruption, there is a mournful tone which is set and maintained by the senseless loss of young life in the opening. The cold, bleak winter allows the use of whites and greys to drain all colour and life from the lives of the characters, who are drawn with a heavy emphasis on realism similar to
Perfect Blue, rather than any childish manga-style gurning. The slow pace of the story and seemingly hopeless chain of events make for sobering viewing.

Unfortunately Jin-Rô is not without its flaws. This alternate present is detailed, but the initial story exposition is over-long and clunky, while the super armour worn by the special force seems to ignore the fact many body parts are only covered in fabric when they walk through hails of bullets. The symbolism of some men being more akin to beasts and a danger to the rest of us is perhaps dwelt upon a little too heavily, with the overt references to Red Riding Hood being a little too frequent and explicit. Also, Fuse’s relationship with the bereaved girl is not believable, with a very Japanese notion that after a couple of dates and hanging out in a playground they fall hopelessly in love despite never voicing their feelings. But it is an interesting, mature story, well animated and thoughtfully portrayed.
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