After witnessing the suicide bombing of a terrorist girl, Constable Kazuki Fuse becomes haunted by her image, and is forced to undergo retraining for his position in the Capital Police's Special Unit. However, unknown to him, he becomes a key player in a dispute between Capital and Local Police forces, as he finds himself increasingly involved with the sister of the very girl he saw die.
This movie is artistic animation. It does not have caricatures of people, use stereotypes to aid character development nor is there enough dialogue for easy digestion of characters feelings. The picture is thick of emotionally charged imagery and reflection, more clear and direct than can be done in live action. For example the fire bombs at the beginning and the reaction of the officers, the tears on Kei's face and breath of Fuze after running all cause connections with the audience instead of the usual detraction anime has.
Things like what Fuze is brooding about constantly are shown as glances into the character, you really have to be following the story to understand anything about the characters. Motivations and subterfuge are the grips of the story after viewing.
The animation is dry, on a color scale you would say that there are no 'warm' colors. Much like done in The Matrix or Gladiator, the lack of color is definitely intentional but still loses marks for art rating (made up for in char/enj).
Then there's the story, its very simple yet extremely complicated to piece together as-you-watch-it. I had particular trouble with understanding the back story, its not necessary and only briefly covered by prose. As the watcher this creates alot of interest to me, I am not given the required information to understand the entire situation going on in the government but still take blind leaps of faith into the characters, trusting them as genuine. I do not know if the good guy won in the end or if the country is worse off. But this isn't to say I felt a lack of resolution, I am very content in the story.
The character development is extremely interesting in this story, the use of imagery to portray characters as heroic, frightened, or animalistic in nature is wonderful. To play into the red riding hood theme you can clearly see at times the animation giving birth to wolf like qualities, or with the girl showing true meakness, frailty and confusion. The short dream sequence is quite graphic and horrible to fathom in reality, but shows the truth behind the story setting and how things felt to Fuze.read more
The only thing stopping Jin-Roh from achieving masterpiece status is the screenplay.
Nothing is wrong with the backdrop, it's clear Oshii has a respectable knowledge of politics and the craft of writing. He also has very interesting motif and metaphor at play. The problem is that, while there are glimpses of character development, there isn't enough to let the themes, motifs, metaphors, and obvious meanings shouldered onto the characters reach a point where it resonates. This leaves us with a deliberately meditative directing approach which mostly fails; it focuses intently on images which work as symbolism, while the script gives us nothing underneath which allows the static shots to inspire or captivate to their fullest potential. The characters don't feel compelling; often less like people and more like chess-pieces moving around in a display of technical skill. This is not always the case, as one scene seems to show a blossoming of two personalities. It's promising, and interesting, but the focus quickly changes to violence and representation.
That isn't to say that everything is entirely ineffective. The major players aren't fleshed out, but the topics are, and they're even stronger due to the film's sense of realism. The characters feeling dialed back may even be a part of it, as it does paint them and the situation they're in as cold and alienating. Dingy settings are eerily reminiscent of the real world and are polished with a grim palette. Which leads me to the biggest compliment I can give Jin-Roh : it has a firm grip on everything visual, Production IG truly brought their A-Game. The reality miming physics of the two-dimensional world can be impressive; sometimes it seems subtle enough as to match reality, other times it's bended and filtered through a (more refined than is typical) stylistic anime touch. The music is a detached element, serviceable albeit dated, which isn't a hindrance since the sound design is most effective in it's use of silence. All of the visual and aural elements work well in tandem with the cleverly constructed places and ideas. Though it's true the characters never distract or compete, for that department to underwhelm is still an opposite extreme.
In the end, Jin-Roh mimics and suggests enough to evoke intelligent thought and thus succeeds as a dark statement, with the added benefit of being rendered with beautiful visual detail. However, it doesn't have enough character merit to function as an enjoyable narrative with long lasting appeal.
Suggested viewing for :
- Oshii fans for completion purposes, since he receives writing credit.
- Self-titled anime buffs at least once, as it is essential viewing.
- Those partial to critical assessments of war and it's psychological aspects.
- Anyone skeptical that anime can drive home a well constructed point, or reflect on mature themes.
- If you just want to sit back and watch pretty animation.
Avoid if these are dealbreakers:
- Slow pacing.
- Characterization forsaken for plot or purpose.
- Realistic violence.read more
Using animation as a medium often excels when the story calls for extravagance or impossibly fantastical setting and characters to literally jump out at it's' viewers.
Trying to paint drab, depressing pictures with such a palette would seem to be a confusing choice or worse, an exercise in futility.
Jin-Rou makes a profound statement with a quietly unsettling score, visceral images and clipped dialogue.
The ambiance that passes between scenes and the characters wandering a lonely landscape does an excellent job of complementing the film. The art works in much the same way, with people framed realistically and expressing themselves with very believable energy and poise.
The characters themselves are withdrawn and unhappy people; sympathetic and pitiable, mis-guided and naive, all kinds of very believable qualities that are superbly acted as well.
This movie makes up a quintessential part of the "Adult" section of animation. It sports no lewd jokes or exploitation of sex in extreme, but deals with the quiet, forlorn sadness of a doomed relationship and individuals destroyed by their respective groups. read more
Jin Roh tells two stories. One is the one where the main character becomes the center key to a dispute between the police forces. The second one puts the protagonists in the shoes of the characters of an older and darker version of a famous story. While we are watching the first and main story, we are slowly taken through the second one. The stories to not clash, they combine and depend on each other to exist. The second one is easy and provides most of the character development, while the first one provides the setting and the introduction and development of secondary characters. Although not bad at its roots, the movie makes the story over complicated and doesn't manage to fully fledge it out. The amount of information we receive during 100 minutes is too unequally places and vast. It doesn't help that the major opposing factions have similar names. This does not help the characters either. The ending is very good and deep, yet unable to fully give us a conclusion. We finally see the truth about the main character and the second story comes to a conclusion, while the first one is somewhat left hanging.
The style of the animation makes the characters look very realistic and less anime like. It's a win or lose situation as the style may not appeal to every viewer, but it was an excellent thing to do. It also looks old, but once again it does not stand out as a bad thing. Both of these things add to the visual experience, and truthfully it is hard for me to imagine this movie using a different animation style.
I found it interesting to note that there are almost no bright colors. The movie shifts back and forth from washed out exteriors, to the dark sewers under the city. The only brighter color is the one from the 'eyes' of the Panzer Cops.
The sound was very good. Most of the background music was well places and did its job perfectly. The voice actors were nothing spectacular, though well chosen.
There is something else about Jin Roh, that doesn't feel right though, something that keeps it from being an excellent movie, yet rising it up to being an above than average movie. I cannot explain what it is... This is one of those movies that I need see only once and be able to forget it by the time I start watching something new, yet still remember it and its most shocking moments when the right time arises.
Is it worth watching? This depends. It requires quite a bit of patience, understanding, curiosity and a liking of the genre, but watching it will definitely not be a waste of time. read more