Anime / Ringing Bell
aka: Chirin No Suzu
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 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 day, 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. If you're looking for a sheep-and-wolf anime with a happy ending, try Arashi No Yoru Ni. For something of a similar theme and tone, see Watership Down and The Plague Dogs.

For those of you who want to see the Japanese version (with English subtitles), here is Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, and Part 5. For the English dub, it can be found here. For those who are interested in the book, click here

Discotek Media released the film on DVD in 2014.


  • All of the Other Reindeer: Chirin at the end. He doesn't learn to accept himself, nor do others accept him..
  • Badass Grandpa: Wolf. The English version makes no hint of this. However, Chirin's mother in the Japanese version refers to Wolf as "an old wolf". Combine that with the scenes that show Wolf in action and you get this trope.
  • Big Bad: Wolf is one of the Savage Wolves and the reason for all the conflict.
  • 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: The Wolf. Due to censorship, he doesn't consume his kills onscreen, and in the end, when he is killed, he remarks that the greatest thing to happen to a wolf is to die in battle.
  • Bloodless Carnage: The wolf was clearly trying to eat Chirin and his mother was killed when she threw herself in front of him. Yet there are no marks on her body, making it look as though the wolf broke her neck with something less sharp or she simply died of shock. Nevertheless, the death still manages to be quite graphic and depressing.
  • Bookends: It both starts and ends with snow.
  • Break the Cutie: Poor Chirin never gets a break...
  • Chekhov's Gun: The 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 (and presumably dies and becomes a ghost), 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: Lamb into wolf.
  • Covers Always Lie: Donwnplayed with both the Japanese (pictured) and U.S. home video covers. The movie does start out this way at first, but then, it gets Darker and Edgier. Admittedly, the U.S. home video cover features Chirin with a worried expression. Even the cover of the original book, with Chirin on a field of yellow flowers against a green background also conceals the true nature of the story.
  • Crapsaccharine World: This movie can destroy in just 47 minutes whatever illusions you may have held about the gentleness and purity of nature.
  • 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 show why revenge is a bad idea.
    • Earlier on, the inverse happened, with the Wolf effortlessly (as in he didn't lift a finger and was asleep) defeating Chirin. It was kind of obvious, since Chirin was just a little lamb.
    • 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. Then when he becomes his apprentice...
  • Disappeared Dad: Chirin's father is not seen or mentioned anywhere in the film. As a matter of fact, the entire flock of sheep has no rams in it at all.
  • A Dog Named "Dog": A Wolf Named Wolf — but only in the dub. See Spell My Name with an "S" below for his original name.
  • Downer Beginning: Chirin is a sweet little lamb living a blissful, innocent life. Then ten minutes later, his mom is killed by a 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 Dragon: Chirin grows up to become this to the Wolf.
  • Evil Makes You Monstrous: Chirin, after growing up with the Wolf.
  • 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: Wolf become this to Chirin.
  • Face–Heel Turn: Chirin does this, and it comes back to haunt him later.
  • Failure Hero:
    • To put it bluntly, every time Chirin tries to be a hero, he fails... horribly. He tries taking on Wolf as a lamb, and every time he is easily beaten in a Curb-Stomp Battle. One of those times, he managed to successfully headbutt right through a thick tree, and he tried the same trick on Wolf... which did not work. Oh, and he is trying to kill Wolf out of revenge, which is not exactly heroic to begin with.
    • Chirin tries to take on a herd of buffalo (or bison), a skunk, and a group of gophers. He fails... epically.
    • Chirin witnesses a snake bite and kill a mother bird that was trying to protect her eggs. Chirin then jumps to defend the eggs from the snake. He manages to fend off the snake by biting and pulling at it. Then he discovers that he accidently knocked over the bird's nest and smashed all of her eggs. He breaks down into hysterical weeping over this.
    • With Wolf's training, Chirin becomes strong enough to take on mountain lions, bears and rocks. He and Wolf end up tearing down everything in their path. At the farm, Chirin kills off all the dogs protecting the herd. Clearly he had to become a villain to be a success. Chirin does not kill the sheep. He was going to, but when he saw a mother sheep protecting her lamb, it made him realize how much of a monster he had become.
    • Finally, Chirin kills Wolf. Wolf is not upset by this, and in fact says that he is proud of Chirin. The sheep do not thank Chirin for this, but instead cast him out. There is absolutely no sense of victory here.
    • Chirin is the epitome of a Failure Hero. He either fails at what he sets out to do, or he succeeds and is left with no sense of victory.
  • Family-Unfriendly Violence: Bloodless Carnage notwithstanding
  • 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: The wolf, 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: Wolf 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 chased 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. He tried to save a bird's nest of eggs from a snake, which shows that he is/was capable of caring about others. This attitude is justified at first because he starts out as a child. When he grows up... not so much.
  • Knight of Cerebus: Wolf makes everything serious.
  • Lack of Empathy: Chirin does start out with empathy. In fact, he glances at several groups of animals composed of mothers and their children as he travels around. This reminds him of what he has lost (his mother). However, after the incident involving a snake and a bird's nest of eggs, he 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. Sometimes this works, but then there are times where it can be quite... Narmy
  • Loners Are Freaks:
    • Woe, because he is a lone wolf.
    • At the end, Chirin in the eyes of the other sheep.
  • 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).
  • Minimalist Cast: There are only two named characters in the entire story.
  • Missing Mom: Interesting to note that this is one of the few films that show exactly how Mommy goes missing.
  • Mood Whiplash: The tone shift between the first and second halves of the book and the movie is so jarring that, viewing them independently, nobody would blame you for thinking they were two different stories. 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: This trope applies to just about everyone. The sheep only care about eating, growing fat, and staying within the boundaries of the farm. Chirin's mother is probably the only character to have any sense of morality, and she died for protecting her son. The other sheep cannot take care of Chirin or even try to comfort him after such a horrific loss. Woe will hunt and kill whoever and whatever he pleases — in fact, he never shows regret or remorse for killing Chirin's mother (let alone mentioning it). Although he does say about the law of life dictating that some must die so that some might live, which indicates that he kills not out of pleasure, but because he feels that it has to be done. Chirin starts out with the morals — or lack thereof — of the sheep, before he ends up taking on the morality of Woe. Justified at first because he is a child, and children need to adopt a moral code first. However, once he grows up, he hunts and kills other animals without regret or remorse and he would have killed his fellow sheep too. However, he remembers his childhood and turns on Wolf because "I was one of them!" and Wolf was going to kill the sheep. The sheep reject Chirin because their "morality" does not allow predators to live with them.
  • 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: Wolf 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 an echo, emphasizing his unnatural strength and prowess.
  • Protagonist-Centered Morality: This is jarring when Chirin becomes friends with Wolf despite the fact that Wolf killed Chirin's mother. In fact, it becomes very clear that Chirin will side with whoever he wants and he thinks that he is right and everyone else is wrong. However, the ending subverts this trope.
  • Protagonist Journey to Villain: This is just what happens to Chirin.
  • Revenge: This is what drives the plot in the second half of the film. The other tropes should explain what results from this.
  • Say My Name: After Chirin kills Wolf, he stands in the mountains yelling his name.
  • Secret Test: 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 the Wolf.
  • 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 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 movie goes on both extreme ends of scale.
  • Snow Means Death: It's implied that this is how things end up for Chirin.
  • So Proud of You: These are effectively Wolf's last words to Chirin after the latter strikes a mortal blow on him.
  • The Social Darwinist: Woe and Chirin.
  • 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.
  • Stockholm Syndrome: More properly defined as Identification with the Aggressor, as Chirin decides to become like the wolf so that he won't have to be a victim anymore and then starts to view him as a father. In fact, the film deconstructs Identification with the Aggressor by showing Chirin becoming just like Wolf, if not worse. Oh, and he loses everything because of it, among other things.
  • Tragic Monster: Chirin becomes this.
  • Ungrateful Bastard: The sheep at the end of the film. Chirin kills Wolf right in front of them, and do they at least thank him for that? No. They simply close the door and want him gone. Admittedly, Chirin did kill the dogs right in front of them, and was going to kill them too. Anybody in their position would have little reason to trust him or have anything to do with him.
  • Used to Be a Sweet Kid: Used to chilling effect in this 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. 
  • Villainous Breakdown: Chirin arguably has this by the end of the film.
  • Villain Protagonist: Chirin turns into this later on.
  • Was It Really Worth It?: He 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 end, doing the right thing still resulted having nothing.
  • We Can Rule Together: Chirin made this declaration to Woe, after claiming he would abandon taking revenge for his mother's death, to repay Woe for making him powerful.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: For some reason, Chirin wanted to be as strong as the Wolf who murdered his mother in front of him. Some of the viewers may be shocked by this, but so is the Wolf. An even more tragic case of this is when he decides to hunt sheep with the Wolf. Of course, he doesn't and turns on the Wolf, 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.

Alternative Title(s): Chirin No Suzu