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Anime / Jin-Roh: The Wolf Brigade

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Cry havoc and let slip the dogs of war

And at that, the wolf pounced upon the girl and devoured her, rending apart her flesh and bone, eating her alive, ignoring her screams.

Jin-Roh: The Wolf Brigade is the third and final film of Mamoru Oshii's Kerberos Saga, which was released on November 17, 1999 in France, and on June 3, 2000 in Japan. It is also the only animated film in the series, the animation done by Production I.G. It was directed by Hiroyuki Okiura and written by Oshii.

The main character is Kazuki Fuse (Yoshikatsu Fujiki), a member of a heavily armed special forces unit (Kerberos) of the police. At the beginning of the film he witnesses the desperate suicide of a young girl who was delivering explosives to an anti-government riot. The suicide bomb cuts power lines causing a large blackout; as a result the police lose control of the situation and Fuse gets into trouble with the brass as he could've prevented this by shooting the girl. The audience is then introduced to a power war going on behind the scenes, between the police unit Fuse is part of and a rival entity called Public Security. Later on, Fuse meets Kei Amemiya (Sumi Mutoh) who looks like the dead girl and claims to be her older sister. Is it the truth, or is she hiding something? Despite his suspicions, Fuse doesn't reject her company.

The film's title "Jin-Roh" note  comes from a rumored counterintelligence cell operating inside Kerberos itself as it slowly builds up to be an important part of the story.

Unlike two of the earlier films in the series, The Red Spectacles and StrayDog: Kerberos Panzer Cops, which were original stories, Jin-Roh is a very loose adaptation of the Kerberos Panzer Cops manga. Most of the characters have been renamed, reimagined or removed entirely and the plot has been compressed and simplified to fit a movie that lasts less than two hours.

Somewhat jarringly for a cynical political drama, Jin-Roh is mostly remembered for the impressive and menacing heavy armor worn by Fuse. It is often confused with the armor worn by the Helghast faction in the First-Person Shooter Killzone (which it possibly inspired).

The film was licensed and dubbed by Bandai Entertainment for a DVD release, but said release went out of print when the company ceased production. Discotek Media has since rescued the movie for a future DVD release. A Korean Live action remake of the movie titled Ilang: The Wolf Brigade was released in 2018 and directed by Kim Jee-woon.

Released in the Kerberos film trilogynote  with StrayDog: Kerberos Panzer Cops and The Red Spectacles.

Provides Examples Of:

  • Absurdly-Spacious Sewer: The Sect members travel through these to ship their bombs and other weapons, and get ambushed by the Kerberos Unit there. It later becomes the scene for the next shoot-out with the Wolf Brigade and the Public Security Division.
  • Alternate History: The film takes place in the 1960s. Germany won World War II, occupied Japan and has only recently moved out, leaving it in economic and political turmoil. Most of the weapons and vehicles seen are German. The US remained neutral and did not join the Allies in either World War and Japan joined the Allies against the Axis.
  • Ammunition Backpack: Downplayed. A Panzer Cop's backpack doesn't store a single long belt for his MG-42, but rather a number of separate belts, kind of like a paper towel dispenser that dispenses bullets.
  • Anachronic Order: Jin-Roh was the final movie made in the Kerberos Saga, but in terms of the timeline it's the first event in the series, taking place a good 30 years before the 2 live action films.
  • Anguished Declaration of Love: A powerful moment in the film, Kei grabs onto Fuse crying and utters line from Little Red Riding Hood "Mother, what big claws you have! Mother, what big teeth you have!". All the while, Fuse is screaming in anguish as he finds himself forced to either shoot the woman he loves or turn his back on his fellow Panzer Cops.
  • Animal Motifs: As befitting of a unit named after the original Hell Hound, Cerberus, the Kerberos Unit is associated with wild wolves.
  • Anti-Villain: The Kerberos Unit as a whole slides between this and Anti-Hero. While they're ostensibly in favor of keeping the peace and ensuring that the terrorist group known as the Sect isn't free to do as it pleases, their often heavy handed methods and willingness to do plenty of their own scheming behind the scenes (like their treatment of Fuse and Kei) to ensure they don't get disbanded firmly prevents them from being heroes.
  • Arc Words: "Why?", is repeated throughout the film, used first by Fuse when the young terrorist is about to blow herself up, and is then used thereafter to question why Fuse didn't shoot her first.
  • Armor Is Useless: Averted — Fuse's Protect-Gear shields him against close-range bomb blasts and automatic gunfire.
  • Barrier-Busting Blow: During a training exercise, Fuse surprises the trainer who is about to storm the room he was in by crashing through the wall.
  • Becoming the Mask: While Fuse and Kei both use and manipulate each other for their own ends, their façade of a romance ends up becoming genuine on both ends, which leads to tragic results at the film's climax.
  • Better to Die than Be Killed: The bomb courier in the film's beginning blows herself up instead of surrendering or getting shot.
  • Beware the Quiet Ones: Fuse's near lack of dialogue is a testament to the power of animation to create a fully realized protagonist with only a handful of spoken lines.
  • BFG: The hand-held MG42 machine guns used by the Kerberos unit are completely overkill.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Henmi acts as Fuse's friend, giving him advice and support after the incident in the sewers. He's the one setting Fuse up with Kei in order to formulate a scandal that will take down the Kerberos Unit.
  • Book Ends: Both the first and final gun battles take place in the same sewers.
  • Bullet Sparks: One of the notable exceptions.
  • Caught in the Rain: Fuse and Kei kiss for the first time while hiding from their pursuers in a rain-drenched rooftop playground.
  • Critical Hesitation Blunder: Fuse hesitates to shoot a girl carrying a bomb package during a raid, nearly getting him killed and causing a blackout across the city, subsequently worsening the riot taking place on the streets. This event is the driving force behind the rest of the film, haunting Fuse throughout and getting him wrapped up in an increasingly complicated conspiracy to disband the Kerberos Unit.
  • Culture Chop Suey: The movie's Japan is a mix of Southern Korea during The '60s and The '70s - rapid urbanization and industrialization, with following social and economical issues, and The '50s' Japan - with political strife and popularity of leftist ideas among the youth, as well as 1930s-WWII era Japan - with authoritarian regime that constantly struggles with infighting between various factions of government and military.
  • Curbstomp Battle: Any time people try to take on members of the Kerberos Unit while they're clad in Protect Gear, as the terrorists in the intro and PSD agents find out.
  • Deadly Hug: Fuse shoots Kei as she does a Cry into Chest.
  • Decoy Protagonist: The movie begins following a girl in a red hood sent to deliver a package. She shortly after detonates the bomb she's carrying, killing herself in front of Fuse, the real protagonist.
  • Defiant to the End: The terrorists in the introduction all attempt to kill the Kerberos cops instead of surrendering, even when plainly outgunned and surrounded. The PSD agents later repeat the pattern.
  • Deliberately Monochrome: The flashback scenes in the opening are all done in still images of black and white.
  • Diesel Punk: The story happens shortly after World War II had a significant difference and the technological base remains similar. The Protect-Gear is very basic Powered Armor — by which we mean some sense enhancements, a gas mask and a radio, and an absurdly tough plating encasing absurdly tough men.
  • Dirty Communists: Seem to make up at least a significant amount of the members of the Sect.
  • Dirty Coward: Henmi. When Fuse massacres his friends, he ducks behind a wall instead of trying to back them up. He continues to try and flee during his fight with Fuse, letting other officers get killed in the process. When corned though, he does make a Last Stand.
  • Doom Troops: The Kerberos Unit themselves, who are intimidating as hell in their iconic Protect Gear.
  • Downer Ending: Fuse's relationship with Kei was doomed from the start and his loyalty to the Kerberos Unit ultimately proves stronger than his love for Kei, as proven when he tearfully guns her down to tie up all loose ends for the unit. Just to get get a clear image of how cynical Mamoru Oshii is, this still manages to be one of the happier endings in the series.
    • As this was the final movie in the series if you watched the two previous films you'll know that in the end the Kerberos Unit will inevitably lose to the Public Security Division and dissolve, rendering Fuse's loyalty and sacrifice of Kei ultimately meaningless.
  • Down the Drain: The finale occurs inside of a sewer system.
  • Failure Is the Only Option: No matter what, the relationship between Fuse and Kei is doomed from the get-go, whith its inevitably tragic end foreshadowed all along the story by several characters, including himself. When all is said and done, Fuse was left with the choice of killing Kei himself or being killed along with her. As he cries in anguish and shoots her dead, his commander concluded "... and the Wolf devoured the Little Red Riding Hood."
  • Fairy Tale Motifs: The original German version of Little Red Riding Hood is used metaphorically throughout the film.
  • Fan Disservice: A particularly disturbing scene with Fuse's Nightmare Fuel Imagine Spot.
  • Far East Asian Terrorists: The Sect are Japanese leftist terrorists.
  • Foregone Conclusion: The movie's Fairy Tail Motifs are used right from the start to explain how the relationship between Fuse and Kei will end.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • During a quiet scene in which Kei narrates the story of Little Red Riding Hood, Fuse starts narrating the dialogue of the wolf.
    • In one of the film's more disturbing moments, Fuse has a nightmare that keeps shifting between a pack of wolves butchering and eating Kei, and himself emotionlessly gunning Kei down in front of the rest of his squad. Sure enough, by the end of the film, he's forced to kill her at the behest of the Wolf Brigade.
  • From Bad to Worse: Sums the film up, really.
  • Gambit Pileup: Everyone has an angle. Most involve manipulating Fuse. Turns out he already knows and is manipulating them, Although he has been manipulated into manipulating them.
  • Gas Mask Elite Mooks: The Kerberos Unit's power armor makes them this.
  • Get It Over With: When Fuse catches Henmi at the end of the final shootout, he just stands still and waits while Henmi demands to know once again why he didn't shoot at the beginning of the film. Fuse doesn't answer, and finally shoots Henmi.
  • Glowing Eyes of Doom: Kerberos unit helmets have goggles with red lenses. The point is made clear.
  • Government Agency of Fiction: The Kerberos Unit and the Public Security Division.
  • Grey-and-Gray Morality: Of the cynical kind. Might even be Black-and-Grey Morality depending who you ask.
  • Implacable Man: Fuse becomes this near the end of the film as he hunts down the Public Security agents that were trying to follow him. Can be applied to all Kerberos cops since the armor is very durable and most of the guns seen in the film have nowhere near enough firepower to begin with.
  • Interplay of Sex and Violence: Twice; first on a terrifying Imagine Spot where Fuse envisions a pack of wolves eating Kei alive with and Fuse himself shooting her into pieces with a machine gun while the other Kerberos unit members watch. All of this, combined with a disturbing shot of her exposed breasts as the wolves feast on her. Second time during the end of the movie as Fuse is crying and prepares to pull the trigger and kill Kei, he sounds awfully lot like he's about to have an orgasm. This is another part of the movie's Fairy Tale Motifs as Little Red Riding Hood was originally a cautionary tale for young girls about the dangers of alluring young men.
  • Interservice Rivalry: The entire film. The Public Security Division intend to create a fake scandal (the romance between cop Fuse and terrorist Kei) to give them the excuse to disband the Kerberos, which has become a political embarrassment. The Wolf Brigade in turn is able to out-manipulate them, kill the Public Security Agents who were supposed to catch Kei and Fuse meeting, and eliminate Kei while making it appear like they still have her to prevent any retaliation from Public Security.
  • Karmic Death: A variation. As Fuse's commander points out, Kei chose terrorism of her own free will and is responsible for the death of many innocent people given how many bombs she has been carrying around for The Sect, just like her "sister". She knew what she was getting herself into and she knew all along that her only fate would be to die from violence. She and Fuse are enemies, Defecting for Love isn't an option and She Knows Too Much. And thus Kei dies at the hands of one of the Wolf Men she was tasked with killing in the first place.
  • Kill the Ones You Love: Fuse kills Kei Amemiya.
  • "Leave Your Quest" Test: Kei pleads to Fuse for them to run away together. He does not. She reminds him of this when it turns out he knew all along that she was an informer.
  • Little Dead Riding Hood: The terrorist girl wearing the distinctive red coat at the beginning and Kei both die.
  • Lock-and-Load Montage: Or rather, a sequence of Fuse being outfitted with the Protect Armor as Captain Muroto explains the Kerberos Unit's modus operandi to Kei and Fuse's role in it. It borders on being a Transformation Sequence in that the effect the armor has on Kei can only be described as horrified awe, as though Fuse has indeed morphed into a wolfman before her very eyes.
  • Love Redeems: Averted as Fuse's loyalty to his pack proves stronger than his love for Kei.
  • Manic Pixie Dream Girl: Invoked and Played for Drama. Kei tries to liven up the otherwise stoic and melancholic Fuse and behaves a bit childishly around him to lighten up the moode. But it doesn't change a thing. Fuse might love her but his duty and loyalty to his faction are stronger than any feelings he may have for Kei.
  • Manipulative Bastard: Most of the cast.
  • Man on Fire: When a member of the angry mob throws a Molotov into the crowd of police officers, several catch on fire and one is seen rolling around on the ground in pain while several others try to extinguish the flames.
  • Molotov Cocktail: The rioters in the opening throw these at the police forces. It's noted that these particular Molotovs are specially brewed to burn more violently than usual, which tips the police off to the fact that Sect members are supplying the mob.
  • More Dakka: And it only takes one fully armed Kerberos unit member to do this, with just one gun no less.
  • Mythology Gag: Many scenes are influenced by the manga, although the film makes them into pure art.
  • Never Trust a Trailer: The English language trailer has a lot of wolf imagery and lines about "wolves disguised as men" and "a man destined to live as a beast". These are purely metaphorical, there are no werewolves in the movie.
  • "Not So Different" Remark: Henmi ponders such during the final shoot-out in the sewers.
    Henmi: What's the difference anyway...between you and me? You're human too...aren't you?
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: Fuse is much better aware of the situation he's in than he initially lets on.
  • Oh, Crap!: Kei, at the end.
    Captain Muroto: We are not men disguised as mere dogs; we are wolves disguised as men.
    Kei: Wolves...not men...
  • Only a Flesh Wound: Averted. Near the end Henmi takes a stray shot across the thigh while behind cover, which immediately reduces him to a limp while the wound is clearly seen to be profusely bleeding.
  • One-Man Army: The Protect-Gear has the ability to many anyone who wears it an unstoppable juggernaut, and it only takes Fuze in a single set of this armor to take out an entire squad of Public Security agents.
  • Power Armor: This is one trope that the series is remembered for, the iconic Protect-Gear. Ample protection, glowing red night vision lenses, and the very picture of badassery.
  • Powder Keg Crowd: While the protestors in the introduction are already rioting pretty badly, things take a turn for the worse when a Sect terrorist throws a bomb into a group of police officers, inciting a crackdown that only spurns further violence.
  • Putting on the Reich: This is the OTHER trope this series is most remembered for; the Protect Gear comes with German Stahlhelms, and Kerberos officers are all armed with German MG42 machineguns.
  • Quaking with Fear: As she confronts Fuse in the sewers, Kei's legs start to shake in fear.
  • The Quiet One: Fuse tends to be silent in many conversations, letting the other person do most of the talking. It ends up becoming a plot point when Kei realizes he knows more than he's letting on.
    Kei: You don't ask anything, do you?
  • Recurring Dreams: And Past Experience Nightmare to boot. Fuse sees the dead girl in his dreams and each time the dream gets worse.
  • The Reveal: Fuse knew he was getting manipulated by the PSD the entire time. Furthermore, he's a member of the clandestine Wolf Brigade.
  • The Revolution Will Not Be Civilized: The terrorists use adolescent girls as bomb couriers.
  • Selective Historical Armoury: Averted - because of the story's background being in an alternate 1960s with Japan having joined the Allies but Germany winning World War II and only recently having pulled out of occupying Japan, the film's firearms are a wide variety of weapons that would hardly be out of place of German armories in World War II, from Kerberos using MG42 as standard-issue guns to the Sect terrorists having Panzerfausts as well as Russian PPSh-41 and British Sten submachine guns (which, if they weren't supplied them from these nations, were probable to have been originally captured by the Germans themselves from their enemies).
  • She Knows Too Much: Kei must be killed to guarantee Public Security can't find her and do the same — as long as she's missing, they can't be sure Kei isn't under protective custody somewhere, ready to give evidence if needed.
  • Shell-Shocked Veteran: A variant. Fuse is wracked with guilt and post-traumatic stress after a terrorist blows herself up in front of him, having flashbacks to the event, and has nightmares of killing Kei.
  • Shooting Superman: The terrorists and later Public Security goons unload on Kerberos Unit officers wearing Protect-Gear, to no effect.
  • Shoot the Shaggy Dog: Fuse kills the only woman who he ever loved and ever loved him back. To make things worse, future films see his unit disbanded.
  • Shout-Out: The Protect Gear has three spikes on its left pauldron, not unlike those favored by another group of iconic anime sci-fi Nazis.
  • Shown Their Work: The gun foley (sound fx) is spot on, especially the MG42's. Also at the shooting range, there is a square indentation on the range lane wall, with 4 screw holes where the pencil sharpener was removed and the spot painted over; this is because shooting exercises are no longer graded by over-the-shoulder judges with paper and pencil. In a movie shot on location this would be an expected background item but in an animated film it had to be intentionally included, amounting to a Genius Bonus.
  • Smug Snake: Henmi, in spades.
  • Star-Crossed Lovers: Fuse and Kei, even if they had ran away while they had a chance, they would have become fugitives and been hunted down in short order.
  • The Stoic: Fuse is mostly calm and collected, and quietly broods through much of the film. Though he does show some emotion, notably when he has horrific nightmares and when he's told to kill Kei.
  • Stop, or I Will Shoot!: Surprisingly Averted. Despite their fearsome appearance and the nature of their work, the Kerberos squad are never shown to be the instigators of the first firefight. During the first battle they give the terrorists ample time to surrender and only open fire when one of the terrorists starts shooting at them.
  • The Slow Walk: Fuse as he kills Henmi's men one by one.
  • State Sec: Kerberos, with its iconic armor and heavy firepower for police work, fit the bill.
  • Stealth Expert: Demonstrated in the museum scene, where Fuse manages to sneak in unnoticed, create a diversion that sends the PSD chasing their own tails, and extract Kei without anyone noticing he's gone. Even without his Protect-Gear, the man is scary.
  • Suspect Is Hatless: When Fuse and Kei are on the run, the all points bulletin going out for their arrest doesn't even give a description, only mentioning them as a "male and female suspect".
  • Together in Death: Averted. Kei invokes this at one point when she mentions her wish to escape the city but Fuse is left with no choice but to kill her.
  • There Is No Kill Like Overkill: The Kerberos cops don't show any mercy to their targets when the latter shoot first and riddle them with 7.92×57mm bullets. The completely one sided carnage of pitting anyone against the Kerberos cops is animated in a glorious mess of muzzle flash, blood and smoke. To say nothing of Fuse's disposal of Henmi. In fact, this is drilled into them through training: the instructor makes sure that his trainees receive plenty of rubber bullets for doing anything that would have gotten them killed in the field.
  • Tracking Device: Kei has one planted in her bag by Public Security. The Wolf Brigade exploits this in order to lure them into an ambush and get them killed.
  • Training from Hell: Downplayed. Kerberos training involves just about everything you'd expect from an elite counter-terrorism unit, with the added experience of getting painfully hit with rubber bullets during tactical training exercises.
  • A Wolf in Sheep's Clothing: Appropriate enough, given the film's constant allusion to Little Red Riding Hood.
    • Kei is assigned to befriend and seduce Fuse under the orders of the Public Security Division, in order to create a scandal within the Kerberos Unit and get it disbanded. However, she starts to have genuine feelings for Fuse, and tries to convince him to run off together when the PSD scheme falls apart.
    • Fuse himself catches on to the fact that Kei is leading him into a trap, playing along with it until the last minute, whereupon he sneaks and fights his way out of it. Taking advantage of the fact that PSD is tracking Kei (and by extension, him), he leads the both of them to the sewers, where his true nature as a member of the secret Wolf Brigade is revealed and the PSD agents are all killed.
  • You Can Never Leave: After Fuse kills Kei, another Kerberos cop is shown decocking his Broomhandle Mauser which he was aiming at the two, making it clear what would have happened to Fuse if he'd refused to kill her.