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Anime / Ringing Bell

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Chirin's bell reminds me
Of those eyelashes and that smile
Chirin's bell reminds me
Of this world's loneliness, as well as its sorrow
Chirin's bell, where are you now?
Many seasons have passed
Chirin's bell, where are you now?
No one visits you now
— English translation of the film's theme song from the Japanese version.

Chirin no Suzu (チリンの鈴 – Literally translated as "Chirin's Bell"), released out of Japan as Ringing Bell, is a children's book by Takashi Yanase, later adapted into an anime film by Sanrio, about an adorable little lamb named Chirin (voiced by late seiyuu Minori Matsushima), 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.


In its native Japan, the story has been retold in many forms, including a kamishibai (paper play) version, a comic adaptation by Sanrio's now-defunct magazine Lyrica, a street performance by Team Swit©h, school plays, puppet shows, even dramatic readings. For those who are interested in the book, click here for the Japanese text and here for an English translation. Since the original book's release and the success of the 1978 animated film. Chirin has become a Japanese pop culture icon, while the story quickly became a pop culture staple with Japanese audiences.

After Yanase's passing in 2014, a special exhibit dedicated to the book and film was shown at the "Kami City Takashi Yanase Memorial Hall & Anpanman Museum" in Japan between the Spring and Summer of 2015 (which was "Year of the Sheep" and the 70th anniversary of the end of World War 2). The exhibit featured artwork from the film, animations cells, and some of Yanase's sketches of Chirin. The exhibit ran from February 11, 2015 till May 11, 2015.


Discotek Media released the film adaptation on DVD and Blu-ray in 2014.

A character sheet is in the works.

Ringing Bell provides examples of::

  • Adaptation Dye-Job: In the original book, Chirin and his mother's skin color was orange instead of pink as seen in the film version and the 1977 comic adaptation. They also had orange spots around their ears in the book. Both characters also had orange colored hooves while it was changed to black/grey in the movie and Lyrica comic adaptation.
  • 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 Woe 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 No. 8 ("わか葉の号") of its monthly magazine Lyrica (サンリオ リリカ), issued June 1977, goes into smaller details like Chirin's birth, getting his bell, training with Woe in the winter and his life after his revenge on Woe.
  • Affably Evil: Woe is obviously seen by the other animals as a monster and a killer, but in reality he isn't shown killing just because he feels like it, he does it for food like all wolves do. Another example of him not being completely evil is that after he beats a bear in a fight and the bear (rather cartoonishly) runs away scared, Wolf lets it go instead of chasing after and killing it.
  • Anyone Can Die: An intense and heartbreaking example with the entire sequence of Woe attacking the sheep stable and killing sheep (both young and old). Woe was seconds away from eating Chirin if it wasn't for his mother quickly taking notice and uses her body as a shield to protect her son.
  • A Hero Is Born: A heartbreaking example with the Lyrica adaptation, which begins minutes after Chirin's Mother gives birth to her son inside a sheep stable. Considering the events of the story, this trope is quickly subverted.
  • 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. In the Lyrica adaptation, Chirin finds another flock of sheep sometime after he kills Wolf, but they too, don’t want anything to do with him.
  • Animation Bump: The character animation (such as Chirin, Chirin's mother, the sheep flock, and Woe) is decently animated compared to other animated works from the seventies. The animation when Chirin starts mourning his mother's death is animated smoothly, such as his entire body trembling rapidly as he's crying. His facial expression is also not only animated fluidly, but in more detail with his mouth moving in sync to his dialogue when he says "No! You can't die, mom!" (in the Japanese version) with visible wrinkles around his mouth, eyes, and nose. Any close up shot of Chirin during dramatic, emotional, and tense movements tends to intensify Chirin's character animation to emphasize the story's dark and depressing tone. Compare to the majority of Chirin's mouth movements either using the traditional mouth flaps seen in anime or not moving with his dialogue (which extends to Woe and Chirin's mother).
  • Animal Species Accent: In the English Dub, Chirin (voiced by Barbara Goodson) would frequently talk in a bleating pattern but losses it as the film goes on (which isn't present in the Japanese version). Subverted with Chirin's mother who speaks normally in both versions alongside a group of lambs and sheep who don't have any dialogue in the original version.
  • 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.
  • Beauty to Beast: Chrin starts out as looking rather adorable, but he is horrifically turned into a lanky looking ram as part of his training.
  • Berserker Tears: In the original book, Chirin is angrily crying as he's heading straight to the mountain where Woe lives.
  • Berserk Button: The sight of seeing a snake kill a mother bird while protecting her eggs is enough for Chirin to lose his temper. Especially since he just lost his mother the day prior and knowing his mother sacrificed her life for him.
  • Best Served Cold: Chirin waits two years to avenge his mother.
  • Beyond Redemption: The flock definitely think so around the end of the Japanese version. They feel that Chirin had gone too far into the nature of the beast to be accepted back into the domesticated life, and thus shut him out. (Though in the English dub they just plain don't recognize him.)
  • Big Bad: Woe is the reason for all the conflict in the story.
  • Big "NO!":
    • Chirin's mom gets one in the English version.
    • In the English version, Chirin yells "No" when he spots a snake killing a mother bird who is protecting her eggs. In the Japanese version, he yells "Yamero" (meaning "Stop").
  • Black Bead Eyes: In the Lyrica comic adaptation, Chirin alongside the other sheep are depicted with black dots for eyes. Chirin's design in the comic adaptation actually resemble the character designs for Anpanman. For the film adaptation, some of the lambs and a few grown sheep are depicted with beady eyes while the majority are depicted with pupils.
  • Blinding Bangs: While they don't have bangs, one of the unnamed lambs in the movie has wool covering their eyes.
  • Blush Sticker: In the original book, Young Chirin and his mother are blushing with a darker shade of orange around their cheeks. Promotional material for the movie (except the VHS cover for the American release) also shows Chirin blushing but depicted with rosy cheeks.
  • Blood Knight: Chirin becomes this. Notably, Woe, 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.
  • Blood-Splattered Innocents: In the Lyrica adaptation, Chirin is covered in his own mother's blood after she is killed! However, blood isn't drawn during that illustration but the comic description is surprisingly graphic.
  • 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 Woe, 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 Woe, but the visuals suggest otherwise. Finally, there isn't any blood shown when Chirin runs Woe through with his horns.
    • The Lyrica adaptation plays this in an artistic fashion, the color of blood is used and it even described Chirin as being soaked with his mother's blood after she is killed by Wor, but nevertheless, the illustrations present her as being clean.
  • Bookends: 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.
  • Comic-Book Adaptation: During the film's production in 1977, Sanrio released a comic adaptation of the film which follows Chirin's life after his birth. The comic was only seen in a June 1977 issue of Lyrica.
  • Corrupt the Cutie: From lamb to wolf.
  • Covers Always Lie: Invoked. 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. Even Sanrio's official merchandise for the film features Chirin looking cute and cheerful. This even extends to Sanrio Animation's own animation cells that includes a happy Chirin on the left border next to Woe/Wor.
  • Crapsaccharine World: This movie introduces a cute character in a cute world and utterly destroys them both in just 47 minutes.
  • Crying Critters:
  • Curb-Stomp Battle:
    • Chirin's fight with Woe ends up as this because Chirin killed Woe 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.
  • Darker and Edgier: While Sanrio Animation is no stranger to making darker animated content, this is the darkest entry by the animation studio and Sanrio itself. Besides the first 10 minutes, the movie carries a very melancholy tone before we get introduced to the titular character and his mother. Especially notable is the lack of humor (which is only present during the first 5 minutes) with the drama and tragedy being playing completely straight.
  • Dark Reprise: While the movie's theme song was already melancholy from the start, as the movie progresses the song gets gloomier with newer lyrics added. A notable example is after Chirin mourns his mother's death, he decides to leave the stable and confront the wolf. As he's preparing to leave, a slower variation of the theme song is heard complete with drums. The theme song is also played in a mocking tone as Chirin is getting antagonistic with numerous wild animals and attempting to be threatening in the process.
  • Death Glare: A chilling example of this occurs after Woe declines Chirin's offer to become more like a wolf instead of a sheep. Chirin responds by giving an enraged glare at him which the camera quickly zooms in to.
  • Death of Personality: The witnessing of his mother’s death breaks whatever was left of Chirin’s spirit and leads to his transformation into the brutal villain that we see in the final half of the story. Even more of his spirit is lost after he accidentally breaks all the mother bird's eggs from her nest as a last act of kindness.
  • Defrosting Ice King: Woe. It's mentioned in the book that he was always hated, so the fact that Chirin wanted to be a wolf warmed his heart.
  • Despair Event Horizon: Chirin leaps over this line when he learns that he killed Woe out of hate, and that his quest was All for Nothing as it essentially destroyed his past and his future - leaving him completely alone.
  • Determinator: Chirin constantly follows Woe, determined to learn how to become stronger.
  • Disappeared Dad: Chirin's father is not seen or mentioned anywhere in the original book or 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.
    • The kamishibai adaptation of the book appears to avert this, as Chirin's father is mentioned and present with his family, and he is among the victims of Woe's massacre along with his wife.
    • He is also present in the Lyrica comic adaptation, and it is he who warns his son of Woe. Likewise, the wolf eats him alive.
  • 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 a slightly lighter note, with two lambs wondering about a strange sound to their mother ewe. The mother tells them that it is the sound of Chirin’s bell, and when they ask her if he is scary, she warns them that whenever they hear that sound, he will kill them in one stab...but it will be a long time before they get to meet him.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: Yes, Chrin, we understand that you were upset over your mother’s death and we feel for you. But don't you think you're overreacting?
  • Dissonant Serenity: In the original book, Chirin is smiling when he first meets Woe, despite his mother and the entire flock getting killed and eaten by him.
  • The Dragon: Chirin grows up to become this to the Wolf.
  • Dub Name Change: The Wolf King's name is Wor/Woe in the book, but he is simply referred to as "the Wolf" or "Wolf" in the English dub of the anime.
  • Dub Personality Change: In the original, when adult Chirin tries to tell the sheep that he grew up on the farm, they recognize him by the bell around his neck, but cannot accept that he grew up to become such a monstrous creature. In the English dub, they seem to have forgotten who he was altogether, saying that such a terrifying animal never could have been one of them. Still, the outcome is the same, and Chirin is left alone in the world, neither a wolf nor a sheep.
  • Establishing Character Moment: Chirin is first introduced curiously walking inside a white background filled with fog. He is then seen chasing a yellow butterfly which causes the background to transition to the meadow that Chirin and the flock of sheep live in. The entire time, he's seen chasing after the butterfly while jumping over a grown sheep and a lamb who's eating grass. The humorous chase then ends with him trying to fly like a bird but falling flat on his face. That entire sequence perfectly establishes Chirin's carefree and innocently naive nature due to being the youngest of the entire flock.
  • Establishing Series Moment: The film's theme song "Chirin no Suzu" is first played as we get shots of mountains, wind blowing during a blizzard, a cracked pond, foot prints in the snow, and the sheep stable completely empty. Even before we get introduced to the titular character, the theme song serves as a hint for the kind of movie parents and children will be expecting.
  • Evil Is Burning Hot: 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 Makes You Monstrous: Chirin, after growing up with the Wolf, grows up into a jet-black Blood Knight ram.
  • Evil Mentor: Woe becomes this to Chirin, but it takes a while for him to do so as initially even he's skeptical on why a little lamb from the meadows, let alone one who he orphaned, would want to be like him.
  • Evil Sounds Raspy: Slightly for both Chirin (both as a lamb and adult) and Wolf in the English dub.
  • 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.
  • Faint in Shock: When Woe barged into the sheep stable that Chirin and his mother are living in. One of the sheep is so frightened by the wolf that they start foaming at the mouth and immediately faint. The fate for that sheep is unknown but it's possible that it either ended up killed, or quickly ran to hide from his sight.
  • Family-Unfriendly Violence: The book, the Lyrica adaptation and kamishibai versions do not illustrate any gore at all with the exception of Chirin's mother's intact corpse.
  • Filling the Silence: 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.
  • Friend to All Living Things: Chirin is this in the first half.
  • From Nobody to Nightmare: Chirin. It is scary how a cute little lamb can actually transform into a demonic-looking ram.
  • Good Parents: Chirin's Mother (and his father in one version), despite getting killed off 12 minutes into the movie (or the first six pages in the book). She and Chirin really love each other, she's the only sheep in the flock that is desperately searching for her child until midnight. She even sacrifices her life to prevent Woe from killing Chirin. Unfortunately, Chirin's love for his mother results in major consequences.
  • Gone Horribly Wrong: Woe’s attempt to have Chirin kill his own kind spectacularly backfires, leading to his death. Not that he ultimately minds, however.
  • Gory Discretion Shot: At least once in the book and three times in the film adaptation.
    • The ewe whose neck is broken by Woe is the shadow version.
    • The death of Chirin’s mother is represented by a blood red lightning bolt that fades into smoke.
    • Both the book and the film keep the initial moment of Chirin stabbing Wolf off-camera, instead using a flash of lightning for emphasis.
  • Graceful Loser: Woe, at the end.
  • Gruesome Goat: Chirin starts out as a cute little lamb, but grows up to be a terrifying horned creature the narration states to be "more wolf than ram".
  • Guttural Growler: In the English Dub, Young Chirin's voice starts out cute and cheerful. But as the movie progresses, his voice slowly starts getting deeper as the story progresses. Once he accidentally smashes the eggs from a mother bird's nest and attacking a snake. His voice becomes very deep and gruffer and at times actually sound like Rita Repulsa.
  • Hand Behind Head: After Chirin gets yelled by an angry mole for digging his hole. Chirin puts his hand behind his head while giving a cute smile.
  • 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, he realizes exactly what he's become.
  • Inelegant Blubbering: Once Chirin quickly realizes his mother's dead, he starts crying in a surprisingly realistic manner (especially in the Japanese version). He also starts crying loudly after he accidentally breaks all the mother bird's eggs. While we don't see any saliva or snot, Chirin's face is very wrinkly and actually resembles the way an infant or toddler would cry in real life.
  • If You're So Evil, Eat This Kitten!: Woe 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.
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: Chirin kills the Wolf by impaling him on his long, sharp horns.
  • Informed Species: Chirin's adult form at the end is supposed to be a ferocious ram, but he vaguely resembles more of an antelope 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 rather an unknown creature that froze their very blood...
  • 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.
  • Jump Scare:
    • The minutes leading up to Woe's surprise attack at the sheep stable starts out peaceful with the entire flock sleeping comfortably. Until the adult sheep and some lambs are woken up by a strange noise from outside. Then without warning, The wolf burst open the stable's door which causes the flock to flee and find hiding places.
    • When Woe declines Chirin's offer to become more like a wolf. He tells him "I'll become a wolf on my own, you'll see!" while giving him a Death Glare before the camera suddenly zooms into his face.
  • 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.
  • 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 Woe 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. Another interpretation of his name is "Woe", which fits equally well, given what he inflicts on our young protagonist. And both names also seem to be based on the onomatopoeia for a wolf's howl.
  • Minimalist Cast: There are only two named characters in the entire story.
  • Missing Child: As the sunsets and the rest of the flock are heading back to the stable. Chirin's Mother is searching for her son who went missing for the evening. After asking for help from other animals (including bats and an owl) she briefly stares at a large mountain (where Woe lives) hoping her son didn't head to that place.
  • 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.
  • Mutants: As Chirin matures, he mutates into a lanky ram-like creature that barely looks like the sheep from the meadows as a result of being raised by Woe.
  • My God, What Have I Done?:
    • After Chirin accidentally crushes all of the mother bird's eggs. He's horrified and starts crying out of guilt.
    • 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.
  • No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: Chirin kills the Wolf that has terrorized the sheep and murdered his mother. Unfortunately, the sheep are far too shocked by what he had become to accept him back, and he goes off alone.
  • No One Should Survive That: Chirin is the youngest lamb in the flock, and there are moments in the film where he's close to getting killed during very dangerous situations. Such as surviving a fall from a cliff while hitting his head on a sharp rock (due to Woe throwing him off his tail), almost drowning in a body of water and sucked into a sinkhole, and a few moments where he also trips over a pile of rocks while following Woe.
  • Nothing Is Scarier: After the film's theme song finishes playing during the couple of minutes. Chirin is introduced inside of a completely white background filled with clouds. No music is heard, with the only sounds coming from Chirin's gasping and sneezing, a gust of wind, and Chirin's bell ringing the entire time making it feel very ominous and eerie. It does get lightened up when a yellow butterfly appears, but perfectly sets the tone of the film.
  • Noble Wolf: Woe may be a cold-hearted predator who believes in strength above all, but he still accepts to take Chirin in and teach him the ways of the wolf. While he is obviously a merciless teacher, he still takes some measures to ensure his pupil doesn't die (such as taking Chirin to a water puddle after he trains so hard he can't move a muscle). This is all despite Chirin being his natural prey and outright warning Woe that he eventually intends to use the training to surpass and kill him. Within 3 years, Chirin even comes to consider Woe as something of a father to him. When Chirin kills Woe at the end, the wolf dies happily knowing that he was felled by his powerful and skilled apprentice instead of wasting away from disease or old age.
  • Non-Standard Character Design: Adult Chirin looks very different from all the other sheep. It's Justified because of how he lived.
  • Nostalgic Musicbox: After Chirin finishes crying over his mother's death, he starts to angrily march out of the sheep stable and heads to the mountain that Woe resides. A music box variation of the film's theme song is heard complete with military style drums while Chirin is marching out of the stable.
  • 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 fittest 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 a distorted echo, emphasizing his unnatural strength and prowess.
  • Protagonist Journey to Villain: This is just what happens to Chirin.
  • Proud Warrior Race Guy: Woe.
  • Reused Character Design: With the exception of a lamb with wool covering its face. The majority of the baby lambs from Chirin's flock are actually reused designs of Chirin with some having different wool and facial structures.
  • Revenge: This is what drives the plot in the second half of the book and the film.
  • Savage Wolf: Woe, of course - being the one who killed Chirin's mother and expressing no remorse over it, he believes that the world is ruled by the strong.
  • Scare Chord: When a bird mother quickly gets killed by a snake. A scare chord is played as we cut to Chirin's horrified reaction which quickly enrages him.
  • Say My Name: After Chirin kills Woe, he stands in the mountains yelling his name.
  • Seasonal Baggage: After Chirin reunites with his mother after going missing for the evening. We get a montage of seasons changing around the pasture and stable. Chirin is shown sleeping with his mother under a large tree in spring, lambs eating and playing peacefully near piles of hay in autumn, complete with peaceful and comforting music.
"Today is a day like any other day"
"And tomorrow will be no different than today"
"The breeze is gentle and smoothing. Its yawning sigh"
"Only blows the flowers in the pasture to and fro"
  • 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 Woe.
  • 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 Woe 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.
  • Single Tear:
    • Chirin's mother sheds a single tear after Chirin apologizes for wandering off for the evening.
    • Another version by Takashi Yanse shows Chirin shedding a tear as he's mourning his mother's death.
  • Skyward Scream: After Chirin's mother dies right in front of him. Chirin starts screaming at the sky while kneeling on his two legs with his arms raised up.
  • Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism: The entirety of the book and movie go on both ends of the scale.
  • Small Role, Big Impact: Chirin's mother is only alive for the first 12 minutes of the movie (six pages in the original book) and doesn't have that much dialogue. However, her death kicks off the movie's plot and the main reason why Chirin wants to kill Woe. The 1977 Lyrica adaptation does briefly expand Chirin and his mother's interactions and relationship (such as Chirin's birth and an extra scene where Chirin gets a bucket stuck on his head).
  • Snow Means Death: It's implied that this is how things end up for Chirin.
  • Sole Survivor: Chirin becomes this in all versions of the story (excluding the film adaptation), which also contributes his fall to the dark side. What makes these versions more depressing than the film is that Chirin not only lost his mother (and father) but also his entire family.
  • So Proud of You: These are Woe'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 Woe, 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 (Uō or Wō). The name is often given the spelling Wolf, 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.
  • Sliding Scale of Animal Cast: Type 1, while the book and film both focus on a sheep flock who hang out at a pasture and live in a stable, the shepherd is never mentioned or seen. The only hints of the shepherd existing is the sheep stable, three haystacks with a fork, and the bell that Chirin wears around his neck.
  • Surprisingly Realistic Outcome: Chirin has finally defeated and killed the wolf that murdered his mom and terrorized the farm he was born at, in front of the flock's own eyes. Normally in other movies with a scene similar, he would be taken back in and hailed a hero, right? Well... due to what he was grown to become, not to mention the fact he originally planned to hunt them in the first place, the sheep quickly shut him out.
  • Sweet Sheep:
  • 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: Wolf hardly ever speaks.
  • To Know Him, I Must Become Him: To get Revenge on Woe for killing his mother, Chirin decides to become his apprentice and learn to be a powerful predator like him.
  • Tears of Remorse: After Chirin accidentally crushes eggs from a bird's nest, he's horrified — having been trying to protect them from a snake — and starts crying out of guilt for killing the bird's potential babies. It doesn't help that the mother bird is laying dead right next to him.
    Woe/The Wolf King: (as he's watching Chirin crying) Cry, cry as much as you wish. Someday that resentment will become your fangs.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Chirin goes from a weak little lamb to a huge ram with deadly horns.
  • Training from Hell: Woe trains Chirin to be a deadly hunter and fighter. The movie includes a Training Montage.
  • Trauma Conga Line: Poor Chirin is only a baby, but has suffered so much for only being a few months ago. First Chirin has an emotional breakdown after realizing his mother's dead, then gets knocked out after being thrown off a cliff by the wolf, fails to protect baby birds (which results with Chirin going through another emotional breakdown), gets sprayed by a skunk, laughed and kicked by a group of buffaloes when attempting to be threatening, rolled into a ball by weasels, almost drowns by falling into a water hole in a lake, and goes through an intense training session. That's one heck of a life for a child that's barely a year old!
  • Tragedy: Of the classic revenge variety. Things end very badly for Chirin.
  • Tragic Hero / Tragic Monster: Chirin becomes twisted by his desire for revenge and bloodlust as a result of his emulation of the Woe, and after he refuses to kill his own kind and takes his vengeance on the Wolf the other sheep reject him out of fear.
  • Uncertain Doom: It's never made clear in the book or the film as to whether or not Chirin perished in the snow storm. The ending states that no one ever saw him again (which could be because he died or simply because he never left the mountains again), but that the sound of his bell can still sometimes be heard ringing. This could mean that he is still alive, but it's also possible that the sound is merely a traumatic memory for the sheep, or that all that's left of Chirin is a mournful spirit forever bound to the place that became his grave. The kamishibai version implies that he is indeed still alive.
  • 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 soldier 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.
  • Vocal Evolution: In the English Dub, Young Chirin's voice starts out cute and cheerful (complete with a bleating pattern). Later in the film, his voice starts getting much deeper and gruffer (such as Chirin crying over accidentally destroying eggs from a bird's nest and mourning his mother's death) to reflect on Chirin's loss of innocence and his determination to kill the Wolf. He even losses his bleating style of talking as a result.
  • 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 Woe 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 Woe 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.
  • Wham Line:
    • "Woe, make me your student! I wanna be strong like you!" said by Chirin the morning after his mother's death.
    • "I can no longer return to being a sheep." said by Chirin in the original book before heading up the mountain that Woe lives at.
    • "I've decided to go with you to hell!" said by Adult Chirin
  • Wham Shot: This film has a few noteworthy examples, the first is the shot of Chirin's Mother not surviving Woe's attack, the shot of the broken fence as Chirin's leaving the stable, Chirin accidentally crushing eggs from a bird's nest, Chirin beginning to grow horns as a lamb, and the reveal of Chirin now a fully grown ram.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Chirin wanted to be as strong as Woe, who murdered his mother in front of him. Woe himself is shocked at this. An even more tragic case of this is when he decides to hunt sheep with Woe. Of course, he doesn't and turns on Woe, 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, Chirins Bell