A voice calls to me... it says "Search for Paradise"...
The Earth sits on the edge of death; years of war between greedy Nobles have reduced the world to a handful of high-tech, Giger-esque cities admist a barren wilderness. Only a single, small hope still remains: an old legend which says that in civilization's last days, wolves will follow the scent of lunar flowers to Paradise. It sounds promising, but no one has seen either a wolf or a lunar flower for centuries...or so they think.The world's remaining wolves learned how to project illusions that make them look and sound human in order to protect themselves. Four such wolves — Kiba, Tsume, Hige, and Toboe — meet up in one of the decaying domed cities after noticing the scent of lunar flowers in the air. They soon discover the source of that scent: Cheza, a mysterious young girl genetically bred from a lunar flower by a group of Nobles who want to open a gateway to Paradise.When a Noble by the name of Darcia kidnaps Cheza to use her healing powers to help his Ill Girl fianceť, both the wolves and the feuding Nobles behind Cheza's creation chase after him. An obsessive wolf hunter named Quent complicates the feud, as he knows exactly how wolves protect themselves and works tirelessly to kill them at all costs (with the help of his loyal dog, Blue).Wolf's Rain originally ran for twenty-six episodes, but budget cuts and the SARS outbreak resulted in four consecutive clip shows (episodes 15 to 18); the broadcast series ends with the wolves foiling a Noble's attempt to enter Paradise, but without a proper conclusion to the story. Four OVA episodes, released a few months later (and listed on DVDs as episodes 27 to 30), brought closure to the story — but also received criticism for their dark and tragic events. The final episode also explains the show's title, as rain had only showed up in the opening titles until that episode. (Some TV networks outside Japan omit the OVAs from the show's broadcast.)
Absurdly Sharp Fangs The wolves' fangs are basically the equivalent of swords for combat damage purposes.
Absurdly Spacious Sewer: Kiba and Hige spend an ENTIRE night sleeping in one (they also ate some of the sewer rats while they were down there) in Episode 3 and neither of them ends up falling sick. Later in the same episode, the two of them, along with Toboe, trudge through the sewers with no problems at all except that Hige complains that he "doesn't like smelly places".
Alas, Poor Villain: Subverted in Episode 14; Jagara's soldiers surround Darcia and his wife's corpse and there are images of the keep being destroyed, but Darcia is alive and well, as seen in his return in Episode 25.
Animal Talk: The classic "two languages, Human and All Other Animals" version is explicitly in place once you see Toboe having a conversation with a horse. Even before then, Toboe often talks about having heard rumors from other animals, such as cats and crows.
Apocalypse How: Class 3A into Class 6. The whole planet is dying, because years of war has wrecked the environment beyond repair, so the world is slowly being enveloped by a nuclear winter ice age. By the end of the last episode, Kiba is assumed to be the last living creature on the planet, before he dies and resets all of reality.
Awesome but Impractical: Jagara's elite wolf-hunter soldiers. The armor makes sense, but there's no rational reason they should use those poleaxes and swords instead of guns. The shields make sense, except for the fact that the handle is basically just a handgun grip, which is great for aiming a small weapon but terrible for use with a shield.
Ax-Crazy: Darcia becomes this in the OVA episodes.
Big Bad Ensemble: The three Nobles, Orkham originally has Cheza and his soldiers pursue the wolves for the first part of the series. Darcia steals Cheza and single-handedly keeps her from the wolves. Jaguara has the largest military force and conquers most of the civilization. Orkham is a pretty standard Big Bad Wannabe, Jaguara is killed at the end of the series, leaving Darcia as the last standing Big Bad for the OVA episodes.
It gets better: the artist for the series' manga also thought Toboe was a girl!
The fact that in the anime's ending Toboe is wearing the girliest shade of pink ever, to the point where it looks like he was reincarnated as a girl. Might be Lampshading the fact the writers do realize how feminine Toboe comes off as.
Darcia might be the most straightforward example, though; unless he's too old for the trope.
Breaking the Fourth Wall: All the characters do this quite often after the credits. When previewing the next episode, for example Toboe says, "[. . .] [Liara]'s so nice, really nice, eh, oh wait, you don't know me yet do you? Just watch the next episode, you'll see."
Tsume seems to count as well, seeing how he occasionally made dry, cynical remarks and sarcastically calling Hige "Porky" at times.
Heck, even Hubb at some degree at the mentioning of his failed marriage with Cher.
Hige himself has a tendency to get a bit snarky as well.
Despair Event Horizon: Darcia goes through this after the death of Harmona. We get to watch it in all its heartrending glory.
Kiba seems to suffer a very painful one at the end of the series. Not only does he die alone after Cheza disintegrates right in front of him, he's the last living thing in the world to die.
Divided We Fall: At first Kiba and Tsume have this relationship, but over time Tsume comes to believe more in their quest for Paradise and becomes a vital aid.
Does This Remind You of Anything?: An example of where this is played for emotion rather than comedy. The extraordinarily tender scene between Kiba and Cheza in the finale, when they lie dying in each other's arms, could be seen as a kind of consummation of their tragic romance. Cheza's speech as she tries to comfort Kiba contains a lot of gasping (in pain), and they're holding on so tightly that Cheza's clothes start to rip and she leaves scratch marks on Kiba's skin. She then arches her back (again, in pain) and crushes his face to her chest, after which the camera cuts to a shot of their blood mingling in the snow.
Due to the Dead: Cher is the first person to die in the final episodes, unable to get out of the vehicle fast enough before it falls down the cliff. Hubb and the wolves are able to get down the cliff fast enough for Hubb to spend his final moments with her, before he lays her body into the nearby river and lets it sink into the depths.
The Dying Walk: Both Darcia and Kiba do this in the last episode. Darcia, poisoned by Cheza's blood and delirious, suddenly breaks away from his fight with Kiba and goes toward the entrance to Paradise, despite knowing that he can't open it, and it promptly vaporizes all of him except his Magic Eye. Kiba, having passed the Despair Event Horizon after the deaths of Cheza and all his friends, walks away from the site of the battle and then finally falls through the ice, apparently the last living being in the world to die.
Elite Mooks: Jagara's fully armored soldiers take a while to fall into Villain Decay. They retain a threatening air, slaying Lord Orkham, having an immunity to bullets and wolf bites, and conquering pretty much all the other countries. One takes on both Blue and and a gun wielding Cher and holds both back until he's hit with a tank shell. When the Decay finally hits and Kiba tears through them, he's still left with injuries that last the remainder of the series.
Fanservice: The opening credits have a very blatant ass shot of Kiba.
Fantastic Arousal: When Toboe and Hige get petted by Cheza, they become blushing moaning fanatics crying out that it "feels nice".
A Form You Are Comfortable With: The aforementioned ability of the wolves to assume human form is sometimes confusing. Most of the time, they apparently retain their wolf form, only ''appearing'' to be human. They also, for the most part, seem to be incapable of certain human activities such as driving or using firearms. Yet they sometimes appear to be holding objects in their hands. It usually translates to holding things in their mouths, as shown when Tsume grabs Toboe to keep him from falling. The confusion mostly stems from the fact that they also spend a lot of time looking human even while there are no humans around to fool. Possibly, this is a sort of Translation Convention; the audience can identify with the characters better if they look human. It doesn't really get weird until they start chowing down on a dead deer — while in human form.
The degree of this is show to be limited to human-visible spectrums: while they appear human to the human eye and to video camera, when Jagara's soldiers look at them through heat-vision scopes they are clearly wolves.
Here We Go Again: Subverted. The series opens with Kiba wounded, staggering through the snow after the death of his pack: "A voice calls to me. It says, 'search for Paradise...' " The scene and monologue recur in episode 30, only this time, he's the only character who is still alive. In the last scene of the series, some of the characters appear alive again in a modern city, and Kiba starts running, implying that his search for the Paradise started again.
It's played straight in the manga, which ends with two wolf brothers starting their own journey to find Paradise.
Infant Immortality: Averted. In the first episode Tsume is leading a human gang of thieves. During a heist a young boy who Hero Worships Tsume falls. Tsume tries to catch the boy, but witnessing Tsume's sudden transformation into a wolf causes the kid to panic, fall, and die.
Less "sudden transformation" than the fact that when Tsume appeared to be grabbing him with a hand, he was really grabbing the kid's shoulder with his teeth. The wolf-bite hurt, the situation allowed the kid to see through the illusion, and, well...
And then Toboe gets killed in the OVA...
And then in the anime version finale EVERYONE dies. In the whole world. Children included.
Toboe and Leara. It didn't last long though, as Toboe accidentally killed her pet hawk, and in the emotion of the moment he dropped his human disguise and let out a mournful howl. She understandably does not take any of this well.
Jump Cut: This is how we transition between wolves looking like wolves and looking like humans; no morphing, no nothing.
Just Before the End: Taking place in the future, where there seem to be very few remaining cities and far between, with the weather getting colder and colder.
Kill 'em All: In a distressingly systematic fashion, followed by a possible Reincarnation, depending on what you think is actually happening in that very last scene. However, the manga version of the story has the wolves, humans and Cheza survive. The bad news is that Kiba ends up being blinded in the fight with Lord Darcia. The good news is that the clouds part, the sun shines and the Ice Age ends.
Licked By The Wolf: Early on when Tsume is being a jerkass, Toboe's liking for him is one of the few things (besides his badassery) that makes him likeable. Although being voiced by Crispin Freeman doesn't hurt...
Lie to the Beholder: The wolves' human forms are merely psychic illusions; they can't fool animals, security cameras, or so on. Or even heat-vision scopes, which Jagara's soldiers use to tell if people are humans or wolves in disguise.
Limited Wardrobe: The wolves, in their human form appearance, always seem to be wearing the same clothes. As, actually, is pretty much everybody, for the most part (Hubb and Cher are shown wearing different outfits in Flashback but their clothes don't change much in the actual show).
Justified for the wolves, since their clothing is just an illusion, and so they have no reason to change its appearance.
Lotus-Eater Machine: There's a plant whose pollen puts anyone who comes near it to sleep until they eventually die. Kiba gets caught in it and enters a false paradise, and to hammer the point home, one of the first things seen in it is an actual lotus. This is possibly subverted, depending on your interpretation of the scenes that follow.
Love at First Sight: Kiba and Cheza fall for each other the moment they first see one another in Episode 7.
Noble Wolf: Wolves are an ancient race chosen by the Lunar Flowers, the only ones allowed to enter Paradise. They are also just as intelligent as humans and have the power to disguise themselves, making them almost like higher beings.
Orphan's Ordeal: Used in the manga. Two wolf pups lose their parents, their father to Quent's hunting and their mother due to injuries sustained during a Heroic Sacrifice to keep them from being torn apart by a pack of wolves that had gone mad.
Polar Opposite Twins: A literal Evil Twin, Jagara turns out to be Hamona's evil sister; also, Kiba's human form looks a lot like Darcia's, which as it turns out is no coincidence...
Raised by Wolves: Interesting inversion. Although this show is about wolves, only two out of the five wolf main characters were actually raised by wolves, Tsume and presumably Hige. The rest were raised by humans. Because they are wolves, they tends to lack emotion when they are in their human forms, and can be very awkward when actually conversing with humans. Toboe, Blue, and Hige are all much more comfortable around humans, because they have been around them more. In Toboe's case, his attachment to humans is what ultimately causes his downfall.
Shoot the Dog: Quent makes this his entire life mission after a wolf destroyed his home and killed his family. He ends up regretting it after he shoots a wolf who gave up his life trying to save him, causing a My God, What Have I Done? moment just before dying with said wolf.
What makes it even more tragic is that this was revealed to ultimately be pointless, as wolves merely scavenged on the remains of his family after they were really killed by Jagara's forces — either as collateral damage or part of a cover-up, it's not really made clear — in an attempt to capture Darcia, when he had first shifted into his wolf-form years before the series started.
Together in Death: Toboe and Quent, Hige and Blue, and technically Cheza and Kiba, although Cheza's body literally goes to seed before Kiba dies.
Tragic Dream: Hub comforting Cher while they are being held captive by discussing how after this is over they'll live by the sea in a house together, and grow old together. Even if they get out of the situation, the world is an icy wasteland on the verge of a complete nuclear winter, there's really no chance they'll ever get to see this dream come true.
Train Job: Tsume's gang pull one off in the first episode.
Translation Convention: All the text in the series appears to be in the Cyrillic, i.e. Russian, alphabet. The Russian seems to be genuine - eg Kniga Luna, The Book of the Moon.
That's not completely correct. Kniga Luna would be "Book Moon", unless it's made to be Kniga Luny in which the the word moon becomes possessive.
Uncanny Valley: Deliberately invoked to make the Nobles, especially Darcia in the last few episodes, unnerving even without those Eyes Wide Shut masks of theirs. The show manages do this even with Darcia's wolf form.
Darcia's expressions in his wolf form, because it is clear he is forcing human expression to a wolf's face. This makes his grin especially disturbing.
What Measure Is a Non-Human?: Inverted, most humans in the story are important only by their relation to the wolves. The remorseless killing of dozens of human mooks (and even some members of Tsume's gang) by the wolves is never given a second thought.