Anime / Ringing Bell

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Sure, it starts out this way, until....

Chirin no Suzu (チリンの鈴 – Literally translated as "Chirin's Bell"), released out of Japan as Ringing Bell (an alternate translation of the Japanese title; see Meaningful Name below), is an anime film by Sanrio based on a children's book by Takashi Yanase about an adorable little lamb named Chirin, who wears a bell around his neck. He is warned by his mother not to stray past the fence around the farm that the sheep live on, for the Wolf King lives in the nearby mountains and will surely eat him. Chirin does as he's told, and lives in happiness.

Until one autumn night, the farm is attacked by the fearsome Wolf King, and Chirin's mother is killed trying to protect him. Confused and angered by this, Chirin runs off to find the Wolf King. At first he plans to kill the wolf, but finds that he's far too weak. Instead, he becomes the Wolf King's apprentice, no longer wanting to be a weak sheep, but instead wanting to become a strong wolf like him. Things go downhill from there.

For those who are interested in the book, click here for the Japanese text and here for an English translation. If you are interested in a kamishibai version of the story, click here.

Discotek Media released the film on DVD in 2014.


Tropes:

  • Adaptation Expansion: In the original book, Wor immediately agrees to train Chirin as opposed to the anime, where he reluctantly tries to convince him to return to being a sheep and the events from Chirin trying to kill Wor when they first meet to the incident with the snake and the bird is specifically written for the anime.
    • Sanrio's comic adaptation found in #8 ("わか葉の号") of it's monthly magazine Lyrica (サンリオ リリカ) goes into smaller details like Chirin's birth and training with Wor in winter.
  • All of the Other Reindeer:In the anime Chirin is rejected by the sheep due to his monstrous behavior and appearance. In the book, he realizes on his own that he cannot go back to being a sheep.
  • Ascended to Carnivorism: It is strongly implied that Chirin eats like a wolf after training under him.
  • Badass Adorable: Chirin starts showing this after the death of his mother and before his transformation into a fearsome beast.
  • Badass Grandpa: Wor. The English dub makes no hint of Wor's age. However, Chirin's mother in the original Japanese film refers to Wolf as "an old wolf".
  • Best Served Cold: Chirin waits two years to avenge his mother.
  • Big Bad: Wor. He is the reason for all the conflict in the story.
  • Big "NO!": Chirin's mom gets one in the English version. The Japanese version averts this by having her simply yell out "Chirin!" and jump to protect him.
  • Blood Knight: Chirin becomes this. Notably, Wor, despite being the villain, does not fit this trope at all. While it's not ever shown onscreen, he does consume most of his victims. The rest are killed because they get in his way.
  • Bloodless Carnage: With only a momentary exception in the film adaptation,note  all violent events in all versions of this story are completely bloodless. When Chirin's mother is killed by Wor, there are no marks on her body at all, let alone an open wound on her throat or stomach, as is typical of wolf attacks. In addition, it is explained that Chirin was scarred and bruised during his training with Wor, but the visuals suggest otherwise. Finally, there isn't any blood shown when Chirin runs Wor through with his horns.
  • Book Ends: It both starts and ends with snow.
  • Break the Cutie: Chirin starts out the film as a cute and naive lamb. This abruptly ends when his mother is murdered, and then he goes on to deliberately erode his own sense of morals in an attempt to become like her murderer.
  • Chekhov's Gun: The titular bell Chirin wears around his neck proves to be significant. It is stated early on that he wears it because his adventuring causes him to get lost, and his mother needs to hear the bell ring to find him. This precise situation happens early on. At the end of the film, he still wears the bell around his neck. That bell is the only thing that allows the sheep to identify him, but they reject him because they cannot believe that someone they knew turned into a ferocious beast. When he vanishes, everyone can hear his bell ring from the mountains. The song at the beginning of the Japanese version of the film reveals that the ringing bell is a symbol and a reminder of the tragedy of Chirin.
  • Chibi: Chirin, at least before he becomes an adult.
  • Corrupt the Cutie: From lamb to wolf.
  • Covers Always Lie: Averted with both the Japanese (pictured) and U.S. home video covers. Don't let that lull you into a false sense of security: The movie starts out cutesy at first, but then Woe shows up and starts killing things. This was an intentional design choice made to effectively deliver the show's message: even the cover of the original book, with Chirin on a field of yellow flowers against a green background, conceals the true nature of the story.
  • Crapsaccharine World: This movie introduces a cute character in a cute world and utterly destroys them both in just 47 minutes.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle:
    • Chirin's fight with Wolf ends up as this because Chirin killed Wolf so easily that there is clearly no sense of triumph to be had. The book and film run on the moral that revenge is a bad idea.
    • Earlier on, the inverse happened, with the Wolf effortlessly defeating Chirin.
    • When Chirin tries to become a wolf, the animals just simply swat him away. The bison simply blows on him, the skunk sprays its chemicals onto him, and some weasels roll him up into a dirt ball and roll him around.
  • Determinator: Chirin constantly follows Wolf, determined to learn how to become stronger.
  • Defrosting Ice Queen: Wor. It's mentioned in the book that he was always hated, so the fact that Chirin wanted to be a wolf warmed his heart.
  • Disappeared Dad: Chirin's father is not seen or mentioned anywhere in the original book nor the film. The entire flock of sheep in either version has no rams in it at all. This could be due to the fact that when male lambs grow into rams, they leave the female flock until it is time to choose a mate, leaving after the birth of their son or daughter.
    • However, the kamishibai adaptation of the book appears to avert this, as Chirin's father is mentioned and present with his family (but not illustrated if one counts the rams in the background in the second picture) and he is among the victims of Wor's massacre along with his wife.
  • A Dog Named "Dog": A Wolf Named Wolf, but only in the dub. His original name in the Japanese version is Wor or Woe.
  • Downer Beginning: Chirin is a sweet little lamb living a blissful, innocent life. Then ten minutes later, his mom is eaten alive by a hungry wolf, and he immediately seeks revenge. And it all spirals even further downhill from there.
  • Downer Ending: After killing the Wolf, Chirin's flock ostracize him and fear him as much as they did with the Wolf. With no one to comfort him and no home to return to, Chirin is left wandering the mountains just as winter hits. It then ends with him crying out for the Wolf and possibly dies from the cold, becoming a ghost as he forever wanders through the mountains, crying for the wolf with his bell endlessly ringing.
    • The kamishibai version of the story ends on something of a lighter note, with a mother ewe telling her two lambs about Chirin's bell and how it will be a long time before they get a chance to meet him as the mother sooths her scared lambs that she will not let him kill her beloved babies.
  • The Dragon: Chirin grows up to become this to the Wolf.
  • Dub Name Change: The Wolf King's name is Wor in the book, but he is simply referred to as "the Wolf" or "Wolf" in the English dub of the anime.
  • Evil Makes You Monstrous: Chirin, after growing up with the Wolf, grows up into a jet-black Blood Knight ram.
  • Evil Makeover: During Chirin's growing-up montage, a brief glimpse is shown of him as a ram with white wool before he abruptly bursts into flames, and is next shown as a black-wooled ram.
  • Evil Mentor: Wor become this to Chirin.
  • Face–Heel Turn: Chirin does this, and it comes back to haunt him later.
  • Failure Hero: Every time Chirin tries to be a hero as a lamb, he fails. When he does succeed, it's because he's trained himself into a strong monster who the other sheep don't recognize.
  • Family-Unfriendly Violence: Bloodless Carnage notwithstanding. The book and kamishibai versions do not illustrate any gore at all with the exception of Chirin's mother's intact corpse.
  • Friend to All Living Things: Chirin is this in the first half, then later averts this trope in the second half.
  • From Nobody to Nightmare: Chirin. It is scary how a cute little lamb can actually transform into a demonic-looking ram.
  • Graceful Loser: Wor, at the end.
  • He Who Fights Monsters: Chirin learning how to fight wolves makes him vicious as they are.
  • Heel–Face Door-Slam: Used literally and figuratively with Chirin.
  • Heel Realization: When Chirin prepares to kill the sheep and sees a mother sheep jump to protect her lamb...the look on his face screams this trope.
  • If You're So Evil, Eat This Kitten: Wor tests Chirin with killing all the sheep in his former home. Chirin was going to do it, but at the critical moment decides he cannot do it.
  • Informed Species: Chirin's adult form at the end is supposed to be a ferocious ram, but he vaguely resembles more of a wildebeest or a goat instead and nothing like the other sheep in the film, not even himself as a lamb. As a result of this, at the end of the film, he ends up being closed out of his own farm.
    Narrator: ...but to them, he was neither ram nor wolf, but a monster...
  • It's All About Me: Chirin adopts this attitude in the second half of the film.
  • Japanese Spirit: Chirin has this in spades. It is also the direct catalyst for his undoing.
  • Knight of Cerebus: The Wolf makes everything serious.
  • Lack of Empathy: Chirin starts out with empathy, but after failing to protect bird eggs from a snake, decides to embrace this trope. He does regain at least some empathy by the end of the film, but by then it is too late.
  • Lull Destruction: Dialogue, narration, and noises like grunts, gasps, cries, etc. (mostly from Chirin as a lamb) fill spaces where there originally is silence, or nothing comes out of the characters mouths, especially in the English dub.
  • Loners Are Freaks:
    • Woe, because he is a lone wolf.
    • At the end, Chirin in the eyes of the other sheep.
  • Love Makes You Evil: Chirin's love for his mother spirals him to the dark side in the first place. His love for Wor reinforces his downfall and his monologue in the penultimate page of the book states that somewhere along the way, he had come to learn to love him.
  • Meaningful Name: Chirin is based off of the Japanese onomatopoeia ちりんちりん (chirinchirin), which means jingle; ding (sound representing the ringing of small bells), thus "Chirin no Suzu" can also be translated as "Ringing Bell" (which was used as the title for the English version).
    • Wor, the name of the wolf in the book, is a likely allegory for "war", he himself representing the enemy in a war that took Chirin's mother away from him. See Very Loosely Based on a True Story below.
  • Minimalist Cast: There are only two named characters in the entire story.
  • Missing Mom: Interesting to note that this is one of the few books and films that shows onscreen exactly how Mommy goes missing.
  • Mood Whiplash: The book and movie go from a cute story about a baby lamb and its mother to a profoundly dark revenge saga with Nietzschian overtones.
  • Moral Myopia: The sheep only care about eating, growing fat, and staying within the boundaries of the farm, and cannot take care of Chirin after he loses his mother. Woe hunts and kills whoever and whatever he pleases, and never shows regret or remorse for killing Chirin's mother. Chirin starts out with the morals of the sheep, before he ends up taking on the morality of Woe. Once he grows up, he hunts and kills other animals without regret or remorse and he would have killed his fellow sheep.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Chirin after killing Woe. He seems to understand it was the right thing to do, but still cannot overcome the grief of killing his surrogate father and ending his own future as a predator.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!:
    • The most obvious example is when Chirin tries to defend a bird's nest from a snake, only to smash all her eggs by accident. When Chirin kills Woe at the end, he feels that he invoked this trope.
    • Before that, it's stated by Chirin's mother that Chirin is not allowed to go beyond the fence because the wolf will kill him if he did. Since Chirin tends to go past the fence every time (hence the bell around his neck), it allowed the wolf to know where he lives.
  • Non-Standard Character Design: Adult Chirin looks very different from all the other sheep. It's Justified because of how he lived.
  • Only Friend: Ultimately only Woe accepted Chirin after the death of his mother. Without an alternative mentor or kinder companionship, Chirin took the path of power and survival of the fitness that Woe believed in.
  • Parental Substitute: Wor becomes this for Chirin.
  • Please Wake Up: Chirin has this reaction when he finds his mother dead.
  • Power Echoes: In the English dub, the Wolf King's speech is underscored by a distorted echo, emphasizing his unnatural strength and prowess.
  • Protagonist Journey to Villain: This is just what happens to Chirin.
  • Proud Warrior Race Guy: Wor.
  • Revenge: This is what drives the plot in the second half of the book and the film. The other tropes should explain what results from this.
  • Say My Name: After Chirin kills Wor, he stands in the mountains yelling his name.
  • Scary Black Man: Wor fits this trope perfectly. This is his default expression.
  • Secret Test: In the anime, Woe's act of making Chirin destroy his childhood community and murder the sheep living there. If Chirin could do it, it meant he was truly as ruthless as Wor.
  • Shoot the Shaggy Dog: Chirin achieves his revenge against Wolf, but he loses everything that ever mattered to him. Life on the sheep farm mostly continues normally, as though Chirin and Wolf had never existed, but not entirely. The credits and the last page of the kamishibai indicate that every now and then the sheep hear Chirin's bell ring from the mountains. The sheep are unable to forget about Chirin's existence, even if they wanted to.
  • Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism: The entirety of the book and movie go on both ends of the scale.
  • Snow Means Death: It's implied that this is how things end up for Chirin.
  • So Proud of You: These are Wolf's last words to Chirin after the latter strikes a mortal blow on him.
  • The Social Darwinist: Woe and Chirin.
  • Spared by the Adaptation: The book implies (directly stated in the kamishibai version) that all of the sheep were massacred by Wor, as opposed to the film where only Chirin's mother and another ewe are shown to be killed. Because of this, the now adult ewes and their descendants shun Chirin, while in the book Chirin figures out for himself that he can no longer go back to being a sheep.
  • Spell My Name with an "S": In the English version, the wolf is called the Wolf King or just Wolf. In the Japanese version, the wolf is called ウォー (Uoo or Woo). The name is given the spelling Wor, but it could be spelled out as War. Discotek's subtitles spell it as Woe. It's more likely an onomatopoeia for howling. Other translations give him the name Howl.
  • Title Drop: The title Chirin no Suzu is mentioned within three lines of the first song (and poem) in the Japanese version.
  • The Quiet One: Wor hardly ever speaks.
  • To Know Him, I Must Become Him: To get Revenge on Wor for killing his mother, Chirin decides to become his apprentice and learn to be a powerful predator like him.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Chirin goes from a weak little lamb to a huge ram with deadly horns.
  • Training from Hell: Wor trains Chirin to be a deadly hunter and fighter. The movie includes a Training Montage.
  • Tragedy: Of the classic revenge variety. Naturally, things end VERY badly for Chirin.
  • Tragic Monster: Chirin becomes this.
  • Used to Be a Sweet Kid: Used to chilling effect in this book and film. In the English version, the sheep reject Chirin because they apparently do not remember him and they are convinced that no fearsome beast like him could have come from their farm. In the Japanese version, the sheep reject Chirin because they recognized the bell he still wore around his neck and they could not reconcile the fact that the lamb they used to play with had grown up to become such a fearsome beast, which makes no difference either way, as it still conveys the same message.
  • Very Loosely Based on a True Story: The whole story is based on Takashi Yanase's experiences as a WWII veteran who got sent to China. He was a teenager at the time it happened. Professor Yanase absolutely refused to talk about his experiences and was able to tell the story in animal form for the film. It was also his experiences during the lack of food in wartime that inspired him to create his most famous character, Anpanman.
  • Villainous Breakdown: Chirin has this by the end of the film and the book.
  • Villain Protagonist: Chirin turns into this later on.
  • Was It Really Worth It?: Chirin avenges his mother and saves the sheep from Woe, but in doing so kills the creature he had grown to admire and regarded as a father. The sheep, fearful of what Chirin had become, would no longer accept him.
    • In the book, Chirin had been hiding his intentions from Wor until the time came when they attacked the sheep farm, with Chirin betraying him in the end. Chirin himself admits in the penultimate page that even though he has avenged his mother, his heart does not feel any lighter and he admits that he had come to love Wor as a teacher and a father.
  • We Can Rule Together: Chirin made this declaration to Woe in the film, after claiming he would abandon taking revenge for his mother's death, to repay Woe for making him powerful.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Chirin wanted to be as strong as Wor, who murdered his mother in front of him. Wor himself is shocked at this. An even more tragic case of this is when he decides to hunt sheep with Wor. Of course, he doesn't and turns on Wor, who calls him out on his sudden change of heart and betrayal.
  • Worthy Opponent: What Woe saw Chirin as in the end. He was happy he died to a powerful rival, instead of wasting away in old age or a random accident.
  • Xenofiction: The characters in the story are animals, and their species is important to the plot with no humans in sight, except for the black mittoned hand attached to blue jeans who gives Chirin his bell in the Lyrica comic.
  • You Can't Go Home Again: Chirin is rejected by the sheep, having become neither ram or wolf.


Alternative Title(s): Chirin No Suzu

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