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Literature / Ringing Bell

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Take note of the poster's layers. The foreground represents Chirin's innocence, while the background represents what he will become.
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 story by Takashi Yanase. It was written around 1969 for PHP magazine and was first published in 1971 as part of Yanase's Twelve Pearls anthology of other stories. After being officially published as a standalone book in 1978, the story was later adapted into an anime film by Sanrio that same year. The story is about an adorable little lamb named Chirin, who wears a bell around his neck. He is warned by his mother not to go too far from the farm that the sheep live on, for a wolf named Woe (also known as the Wolf King in the anime) lives in the nearby mountains and will surely eat him. Chirin does as he's told, and lives in happiness.

Until one tragic night, the farm is attacked by the aforementioned Woe, and all of the sheep are killed and eaten. Among the victims on Woe's menu is Chirin's mother, who is throttled to death while trying to protect him. Confused and angered by this, Chirin runs off to find Woe and kill him. Using his smarts, knowing that he's far too weak to do the deed, he tricks Woe into making him his 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, marionette shows, a "Musical Fairy Tale" LP alongside Anpanman by Polydor Records even dramatic readings.

  • For those who are interested in the book, click here for the Japanese text and here for an English translation.
  • If you want to see the kamishibai version, choose this link.
  • If you want to read an extended variation of the story with other Yanase works from the book Whose Song is This? ("あれはだれの歌"), click this link.
  • If you would like to listen to an audio adaptation of the movie by Audio Theater Company Mittey, please choose this link.
  • Select this link to see a 2003 flash animation adaption by Storygate Picturebooks.
  • To see amateur scans of the movie storybook, click on this link.
  • If you want to read the very first version of the story, press this link.
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.

The team of animators behind this short would later work on Unico: Black Cloud and White Feather, released in 1979, which was the first animated adaptation of Osamu Tezuka's Unico.

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::

  • Adapted Out:
    • The movie storybook removes the snake and the bird incident.
    • Chirin's dad and the other male rams are omitted from the book and anime.
    • Neither the book nor the anime include the ending of the mother sheep warning her child about Chirin, though the epilogue of the anime includes two lambs curiously trying to go beyond the fence, but their mother pulls them back.
  • Adaptation Distillation: The book is a lot Darker and Edgier than the anime most people are familiar with. Two of the most notable differences are as follows:
    • Woe kills and eats the entire flock of sheep, not just Chirin's mother, leaving him with a horrible case of survivor's guilt and questioning why the other sheep were killed.
    • Chirin doesn't tell Woe that he's out for revenge and the audience doesn't know either, as opposed to the anime where he simply gave up his revenge just to be with Woe. When the duo return to attack the sheep farm again, Chirin, in the book, surprise attacks Woe, reveals his revenge and then he kills him, while in the anime, he kills Woe to defend the sheep from him (it was this change that unfortunately muddied the story’s moral). Either way, after killing Woe, Chirin regrets this.
    • On a minor note, the earliest version of the story (in which the Lyrica, kamishibai, and Storygate animation versions are adapted from), Chirin has a father, who was removed from the book and anime, thus scratching what itch audiences had over the lack of rams in Chirin's flock in the anime.
    • The prototype version also has a scene of Chirin getting rejected from every sheep flock he comes across, which seemed to have made its way into the anime version.
  • 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:
    • The anime adaptation features a new scene of Chirin's mother looking for him after he stays out past dark.
    • In the original book, Woe 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.
  • Adaptation-Induced Plot Hole: Chirin's father, who appeared in the very first version of the story along with other variations (such as the Lyrica and kamishibai adaptations), is omitted from the official book and anime. As a result, there are no rams to be seen in either the anime or the book which makes you wonder how the lambs are conceived and born.
  • Adaptational Villainy: Unlike the book or the other adaptations, Chirin in the Sanrio version has completely embraced his inner darkness and has no qualms about killing his own family, let alone eating them as his and Woe's dinner. He does, however, go through a Heel Realization and kills Woe in order to save the sheep. But it is this change that confused audiences over the moral of the story. See Broken Aesop below.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Alas, Poor Villain: Chirin. You can clearly see the sadness and confusion in his eyes when he realizes that he loved Woe too late.
  • All for Nothing: Chirin turned to the dark side because Woe ate his entire family and Woe promised that he knew a way to make him a strong ram. In the end, he becomes a Darth Vader-like ram, grows to love Woe as a father-figure, has killed many animals off-screen, including (possibly) very young children, helped create a dynamic duo of sorts between him and Woe as the most universally feared pair throughout the land, and ultimately caused the death of his own father-figure to get his revenge. He went from hero to zero and he never got his mother back. The anime takes it a step further: the only reason he doesn't try to go back to the sheep is because Woe's training has ensured that he will never go home again.
  • 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 1971 version, which later became the basis of the Lyrica adaptation, Chirin finds another flock of sheep sometime after he kills Woe, but they too, don’t want anything to do with him. Said version also has an old sheep telling to go away.
  • Allegory: According to Takashi Yanase, the story is an allegory for the effects of war (notably World War II) and the negative side effects for victims. Woe/Wor the wolf is a personification of War, and Chirin representing innocent victims and civilians of war (notably orphaned children who lost parents and family members). As a result, the book and animated film is sometimes labelled as an "Anti-War Film" without any references to warfare.
  • Ambiguous Time Period: Since Yanase prefers his works to remain timeless, the story and other adaptations never reveal what year the story takes place. While the book and film mentions "Chirin being born spring of that year.", the story appears to takeplace sometime in the early 20th century somewhere in the United States.
  • 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.
  • Anyone Can Die: Good grief, yes. 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.
  • Art Evolution: Takashi Yanase originally drew Chirin as a more realistic looking lamb in his 1971 anthology book Twelve Pearls while Woe was given a shadowy creature sort of vibe...before Sanrio gave the former a cute makeover that has carried over into his other appearances.
  • Ascended to Carnivorism: It is strongly implied that Chirin eats like a wolf after training under him.
  • Badass Adorable: Chirin starts showing this after the death of his mother and before his transformation into a fearsome beast.
  • Badass Boast: After the training montage, Chirin boasts to Woe how strong he is.
    Chirin: So then, Wolf, I am no longer a weakling sheep. Instead of fangs, I have horns which are just as sharp. My hooves are harder than the rock, and it's become my nature to fight without fear of death..
  • The Bad Guy Wins: Woe emerges as the true victor of the story, even in death, as his training and grooming of Chirin has secured his apprentice's place as an outsider with no home or direction at all.
  • Battle in the Rain: While the adult Chirin fatally strikes down the wolf, it was pouring rain. It stops after the wolf dies.
  • Beauty Is Never Tarnished: Played straight with Chirin's mother; her body is never shown with even the slightest bit of evidence that Woe killed her with his teeth. It is still a children's story at the end of the day after all.
  • 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: In all versions of the story excluding the Sanrio adaptation, Chirin waits three years to avenge his mother and the rest of his family by training to be a creature stronger than Woe, as opposed to the aforementioned anime where he killed Woe to protect his family.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Bloodbath Villain Origin: Woe killed and ate everyone from Chirin's flock, causing him to turn to villainy.
  • 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, despite the prototype version and it's own adaptations mentioning blood despite the illustrations telling a different story. 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 for the illustrations of Woe's massacre on the sheep farm.
    • Averted in the text of the prototype version and it's own adaptations, which describe Chirin as being soaked with his mother's blood after she is killed by Woe, but nevertheless, the illustrations of the Lyrica and kamishibai version present her as being clean.
  • Book Ends:
    • The anime and the Lyrica adaptations both start and end with snow.
    • The beginning of the prototype version has Chirin learning about Woe from his father when he hears his howling for the first time. Said version ends with a newborn sheep learning about Chirin from his mother when he hears his bell for the first time. Also overlaps with Here We Go Again! See Foreshadowing below.
  • 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.
  • Broken Aesop: The moral of the story is supposed to be that Vengeance Feels Empty and obsessing over revenge can make you into a monster, as Chirin kills Woe but the sheep all reject him for his monstrous appearance and behavior and he's now alone in the world after having killed someone who he came to see as a surrogate father figure. The anime somewhat fumbles this, however, as Chirin attacking Woe isn't portrayed as him doing it out of the desire for revenge, but rather to protect the other sheep in the pasture after being reminded of his mother protecting him. This makes the other sheep rejecting Chirin at the end come off more as a mix of No Good Deed Goes Unpunished and Ungrateful Bastard.
  • Bystander Syndrome: The other sheep, who were Spared by the Adaptation in the anime, can do nothing but mourn for their fellow ewe, not taking any time to console Chirin other than giving him space.
  • Cannot Kill Their Loved Ones: Chirin is unable to kill even a little innocent lamb in the anime adaptation.
  • Canon Foreigner: The Sanrio adaptation adds a larger cast to the previously minimal animal kingdom, including butterflies, the rabbit, antelopes, buffalos, the mole, the skunk, chipmunks, the snake and the bird and the bear. There's even some other animals in the Lyrica comic as well.
  • Characters Dropping Like Flies: Almost everyone dies in the story. Chirin's flock in the beginning is perhaps the biggest death count next to Woe and Chirin himself. The same applies to the animals introduced in the anime, such as the deer, the snake and the bird. Woe lampshades in that version that his world is full of death.
  • Chasing a Butterfly: The Sanrio adaptation introduces Chirin by having him chase a yellow butterfly. In some ways, this can be as a foreshadowing because butterflies represent metamorphosis.
  • 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. In the Lyrica adaptation after Chirin dies alone in the snow, a note mentions that wherever a small lamb cried after that night, their mother would tell them that the monster with the ringing bell would come to kill it if it continued crying.
  • Chibi: Chirin, at least before he becomes an adult.
  • Clean, Pretty Childbirth: In the Lyrica adaptation, when Chirin is born, he is pretty clean.
  • Comic-Book Adaptation: During the film's production in 1977, Sanrio released a comic adaptation of the Twelve Pearls version 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.
  • Corrupted Contingency: Woe is proud to have Chirin as his successor for this reason. After all, who will take his place once he's gone? Chirin's physical appearance and reputation also acts as a contingency of it's own: it secures his place in life outside of normal sheep.
  • Covers Always Lie: Invoked. This was an intentional design choice made to effectively deliver the story'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.
  • Dangerous Forbidden Technique: Woe insinuates to Chirin that he can teach him the ways of the wolf to be stronger, but it's Power at a Price, as Chirin finds out.
  • 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 humor only being present during the first 5 minutes with the drama and tragedy being playing completely straight.
  • Dark Is Not Evil: Woe convinces Chirin that this is the truth, as, according to his own philosophy, animals have to eat other animals just so they can survive. However, this is absolutely not the case as far as morality in Japanese culture goes - shades of grey are present, but, depending on your own interpretation, Woe is easily the most evil being in the story.
  • 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.
  • The Dark Side Will Make You Forget: Chirin teams up with Woe to be stronger and so that he can avenge his family. What he learns from Woe ends up driving his family away and before that he expresses contempt for his childhood sheep shed.
  • Death by Despair: Chirin, presumably, in addition to dying from hypothermia, but this is ambiguous.
  • Death of a Child: A near attempted variant: Chirin has his eyes set on a kindergarten aged lamb but the lamb's mother prevents him from doing the deed. Woe easily did so in the original story.
  • Death Glare: A chilling example of this occurs in the anime 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 twice: first when he learns that his family is dead and secondly when he finishes his revenge to kill Woe. In the case of the latter, he realizes that his quest was All for Nothing as it essentially destroyed his past, his future, his innocence and his reputation - leaving only the wolfsheep he is today.
  • Determinator: Chirin constantly follows Woe, determined to learn how to become stronger.
  • Didn't Think This Through: Twice, Chirin tries to attack Woe when he leaves the farm in the anime adaptation. The first time, he gets swatted by the wolf's tail. The second time involves him getting catapulted by a bison's rear hoof. The original story avoids this altogether.
  • Divide and Conquer: Woe in the anime version leaves Chirin isolated from the people that care about him, specifically the other surviving sheep on the farm, making it easier for him to lure Chirin to the Dark Side as well as the sheep vilifying him in the climax.
  • 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. Truth in Television is that most sheep farms are segregated by sex.
    • The original story in Twelve Pearls, the Storygate Picturebooks adaptation as well as 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.
  • 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? Even more so in the anime because the other sheep were too saddened over his mother's murder to take him in and they lose any chance of adopting Chirin because he runs off into the mountains.
    • In some versions of the story, sheep mothers tell the story of Chirin and warn that he, or his spirit at least, will kill lambs just for crying.
  • 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.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: There are a handful of scenes that serve as commentary on World War II and samurai movies in general:
    • Chirin represents the innocent child whose innocence was stolen away when an evil force killed his family.
    • Woe, in one of his alternate spellings, represents the war.
    • Chirin's mother, father and the flock represent the civilians killed by soldiers, or perhaps even Chinese civilians who suffered under the Japanese occupation of China.
  • 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 dying from the cold, the ringing noise from the mountains during blizzards after implied to be his wandering ghost. 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. The Lyrica version has Chirin returning to Woe's cave alone after a flock of sheep rejects him, freezing to death in the snowy night. Afterwards, it is said that whenever a baby lamb would cry, their mother would tell them that the monster with the ringing bell will come to kill them if they don't stop.
    Narrator: Chirin tried to tell the frightened sheep that he had once lived with them in the meadow. But nobody believed him. The creature they saw before them was not one of their kind. Chirin was neither wolf nor sheep. He was an animal which caused only fear and terror. He wouldn't find a home again with the sheep of his childhood. And without the wolf, Chirin realized... he had no home at all.
  • The Dragon: Chirin grows up to become this to Woe.
  • Dramatic Irony: Chirin gets lured to the ways of the hunter so he can kill Woe and avenge his family, a strength he plans to use to become better than any sheep or wolf. Not only does he discover that that revenge does not bring his parents back, not only does he become Woe's student, but he ends up becoming a Child of Two Worlds as he is still a sheep with wolf-like attributes. Also doubles as Became Their Own Antithesis.
  • Due to the Dead: Woe is given a proper burial by Chirin in the expanded versions of the story.
  • 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.
  • Eaten Alive: Despite Bloodless Carnage being put into effect, Woe clearly uses "go for the kill and then eat" variation on his victims, including Chirin's entire family in every version of the story except the anime where it is streamlined down to Chirin's mother and another ewe.
  • End of an Age: By the time Woe attacks the sheep ranch, Chirin's childhood is no more and sometime in the near-future, he is now remembered as a boogieman like figure who will kill baby lambs if they cry.
  • Environmental Symbolism: The climatic battle between Chirin and Woe on a rainy ranch.
  • Epic Tracking Shot: A brief one in the climax follows Chirin making his way down to the farm.
  • Ethereal Choir: When Chirin contemplates killing the lamb and his mother in the anime adaptation, a mournful choral theme is heard.
  • 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.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Woe in the anime, depending on your interpretation. Deep down, he probably feels sorry for Chirin and wants to help him be strong.
  • Evil Cannot Comprehend Good: Played straight and then averted. The newly-minted ram!Chirin shows this repeatedly before the final battle with Woe. In all other versions of the story, he ambushes Woe with no implication of having forgotten who he is, while in the anime, he has a Heel Realization after seeing a mother protecting her baby.
  • 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 Makes You Ugly: Chirin to a lesser extent, since his wool becomes black and his eyes become pale with tiny pupils and slightly yellow, but not as yellow as a Sith.
  • 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: Played for Drama. Every time Chirin tries to be a hero as a lamb, he fails, one instance is an attempt to protect some eggs after the mother bird is killed by a snake ending up with Chirin breaking the eggs on accident. 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 Extermination / The Purge: Woe's massacre of Chirin's flock in the original story and other variations, which begins Chirin's Start of Darkness and leading him on the road to vengeance.
  • 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.
  • Foreshadowing: In the prototype version of the story, Chirin's father warns his son of the terrible danger that lies in the mountains in the form of Woe right at the story's beginning. In the ending of said version, a mother sheep warns her son of another danger...Chirin himself, who kidnaps and possibly even eats little lambs as punishment for crying. Also counts as a Call-Back.
  • 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 the expanded versions of the story), 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. The only times we see it onscreen are in the Lyrica and Storygate flash animation adaptations.
  • 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".
  • Gut Punch: Mama's death and Chirin's reaction in the Sanrio adaptation's version of events. In the previous ten minutes, you were treated to a lighthearted animal movie, complete with comic relief, a mother looking for her lost child, heartwarming feats. Then, Chirin finds his mom dead, and you expect her to wake up (if there were wounds on her body, Chirin would have gotten the message a lot quicker). No, and Chirin is inconsolable. You then get a long, painful sequence of seeing Chirin whimper before the little lamb begins to cry and then gives a series of horrifically human yells and sobs. Before that moment, he was a happy little sheep with a constant smile on his face for the most part. In this one, sole moment, he's not a boy, but a man - who is pissed at the universe.
    • The original story brushes over this and the closest we get is Chirin crying out "Why were we killed?!" as he stands there covered in his mother's unseen blood.
  • 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.
  • Hated by All: Even in death, Chirin still finds no peace. In an ending exclusive to the prototype version of the story and it's own adaptations, he is remembered, not as a tragic lamb who sought vengeance, but an evil monster that mother lambs tell to their offspring, warning them that if they cry, Chirin will come to take them away and kill them.
  • 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.
  • History Repeats: At the climax, Chirin attacks the barn where the sheep are kept and witnesses a mother sheep jump to protect her lamb, just like his mother did when Woe attacked, only now he's in the place of the wolf. This causes Chirin to undergo his Heel Realization.
    • History is also repeated in the Twelve Pearls version when a lamb asks his mother what that ringing sound is, the same way Chirin asked his father what that howling was. Both parents reveal to their offspring that said sounds belong to the monster of the mountains.
  • Hope Spot: You didn't think the other sheep were going to welcome Chirin back to the barn after what he did to their guard dogs, did you?
  • Hope Springs Eternal: Even if Chirin is torn by sadness after killing Woe, his last act of heroism has ensured that no one will ever have to suffer the same way he did, ever again. Even the Storygate Picturebooks adaptation states that the ranch he lived in is now peaceful again and Woe is now just a memory by the older sheep.
  • I Lied: Chirin to Woe in the other versions of the story. He promises that they will be together when they die. Guess what happens...
  • Inelegant Blubbering:
    • Once Chirin quickly realizes his mother's dead, he starts crying in a surprisingly realistic manner (especially in the Japanese version). The poor lamb is even trembling as he's mourning her death. 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.
    • Chirin also starts crying loudly after he accidentally breaks all the mother bird's eggs. He can only stare at the broken egg shells with his tears (while not visible) falling on to the egg shells and yolk.
  • 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.
  • Improbable Infant Survival: Played straight with Chirin, but not his fellow lambs. Since the original version of the story has Woe killing all of the sheep, this also extends to the fact that he ate the baby lambs as well.
  • 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, being utterly determined to avenge his family, especially if it means becoming a predator to do so. 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.
  • Legend Fades to Myth: By the time of the final ending, the events of Chirin's story have long been forgotten. In the anime, a huge snowstorm removes all traces of the story. In the prototype version and its adaptations, Chirin's true character and story have been forgotten entirely. Now he is a nightmare creature that mother ewes warn to their offspring that, if they cry, Chirin will kill them.
  • 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). His name also rhymes with "Kirin", a mythological monster that can be only found in the mountains.
    • 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. It is implied that living like Woe has changed him for the worse.
  • 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.
  • Narrator All Along: The Storygate Picturebooks adaptation features a female narrator, who is implied to be a mother sheep telling the story to her newborn son.
  • 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.
  • Non-Malicious Monster: Woe had one hell of a night feasting on Chirin's family, but he's just a wild predator trying to survive in his environment. Chirin finds this out for himself in the anime.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Nothing Is the Same Anymore: Woe eating and slaughtering the sheep flock is the exact moment that changes Chirin’s life forever, leading to a new life of hardship, followed by the training and grooming of Chirin into a rammified wolf. Chirin gets his revenge, but this leaves him in the body of a beast, a child of both worlds, so to speak, that is neither ram or wolf.
  • Oh, Crap!!: Chirin’s mother when she sees her son about to be Woe’s next victim. See Big "NO!" above.
  • 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.
  • Platonic Declaration of Love: Chirin confesses he loved Woe like a father right after killing him in the previous page.
  • Please Wake Up: Chirin has this reaction when he finds his mother dead. First, he wistfully believes that she fell asleep, then as he gently asks her to wake up, he only hopes she was knocked out during the attack at best and that she can get better, then fully breaks down in denial when he realizes that she was actually killed.
  • Poor Communication Kills: Chirin's fall to darkness in the anime adaptation possibly could have been averted if the surviving sheep just took a few minutes to comfort and actually adopt the lamb. Here they do nothing but mourn the loss of their fellow ewe. Because of this, Chirin expresses nothing but contempt for the so-called weaklings.
  • Power Echoes: In the English dub, the Wolf King's speech is underscored by a distorted echo, emphasizing his unnatural strength and prowess.
  • Properly Paranoid: At the beginning of the anime version, Chirin’s mother expresses concern that her son is missing. She's absolutely angry when she finds him, especially since she had just warned him about Woe, but it doesn't do her any good in the long run since the said wolf eats her alive.
  • Protagonist Journey to Villain: This is just what happens to Chirin.
  • Proud Warrior Race Guy: Woe.
  • Pyrrhic Victory: In the end Chirin does succeed in killing Woe, but it costs him his innocence, his youth, the newfound bond he formed with Woe as a father figure, and any chance of ever returning to a normal life as a sheep since becoming strong enough to defeat Woe meant transforming himself into a beast too terrifying for the other sheep to ever accept. He avenged his mother, but lost everything else in the process.
  • "Ray of Hope" Ending: The Bad News: Chirin has become fully corrupted into the evil wolf ram, his revenge did not bring his family back and now he has to live in total depression and loneliness. The Good News: Thanks to Chirin's final act of heroism, Woe is dead, which means that the sheep in the meadow are now safe and sound from his tyranny and no one will ever have to follow Chirin's road to vengeance if some other wolf comes along and ruins the life of another lamb (that is if Chirin is still around in hiding to act as an unseen protector of the sheep). Even so, Chirin's titular bell can still be heard on stormy nights and his legacy has been reduced to that of an urban legend, a "boogeyram" who kills lambs for's obviously apparent that given how the sheep still remember Chirin, seeing what he has become, the other sheep across the country may not be completely safe from harm yet...
  • Redemption Equals Death: A variation can be found in the anime. Chirin redeems himself by killing Woe and saving his family, but he is locked out of the sheep stable and he most likely dies in the snow storm.
  • 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.
  • Revenge Is Sweet: Invoked and Subverted. Chirin spent three years training to be stronger than Woe and relishes in killing him when the time comes. Woe is very glad that Chirin killed him, but Chirin himself feels rather empty and guilty immediately after doing the deed. Of course, this whole thing might have been all part of Woe's Thanatos Gambit to get Chirin into taking his place as the next wolf king, so he probably took advantage of this trope.
  • Rule of Symbolism:
    • Chirin's titular bell represents whatever innocence he has left. The text of the book states that it was once used to let others knew where he was. But that was before he allowed Woe to corrupt him. As an adult, the bell now acts as a warning to others, or a sound that causes Chirin's soon-to-be victims to tremble with fear.
    • In the training montage of the anime adaptation Chirin runs across a rock bridge that collapses behind him, symbolizing that there is no turning back for him. He has crossed a certain line.
  • 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.
  • Scenery Gorn: Woe's mountain is very rocky and uncaring.
  • Scenery Porn: And how. Made heartbreaking in the end credits as we are given a montage of what life is like on the farm with the descendants of Chirin's family.
  • 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 version 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.
  • Silence is Golden: After his Face–Heel Turn, Chirin's more disturbing actions are done in silence from his side, which makes him much more imposing. It's clear he picked this up from Woe.
  • Single Tear:
    • Chirin's mother sheds a single tear after Chirin apologizes for wandering off for the evening.
    • The 'kamishibai'' version, also 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 six pages in the original book and doesn't have that much dialogue. However, her death kicks off the plot and the main reason why Chirin wants to kill Woe. The anime adaptation does briefly expand Chirin and his mother's interactions and relationship (one exclusive scene has Chirin going missing and she scolds him for staying out late).
  • 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 other versions) 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.
  • The Starscream: Chirin becomes an unintentional example of this once he kills Woe. Before that, he was planning to kill him, but what he didn't plan on, was taking his place as the predator of the mountain.
  • 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, him killing the guard dogs, not to mention the fact he originally planned to hunt them in the first place, the sheep quickly shut him out.
  • Sweet Sheep:
  • Symbolic Mutilation: Chirin's incineration at the end of the training montage corresponds with his final commitment to the ways of the wolf so that his body appears as lanky as dark and ugly as his corrupted soul.
  • 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.
  • They Died Because of You: Chirin believes that he is responsible for the deaths of Woe and his family. The former is true, but the latter is Woe's fault, actually. Had he got up and ran with the other sheep in the anime version, maybe then his mother would have survived.
  • 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.
    • He also expresses these tears in the literary versions of the aftermath of his revenge.
  • Third Party Stops Attack: In the anime, Chirin is about to finish off one of the lambs when the guy's mother jumps on to of him to protect him. Guess what happens next.
  • 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 Woe, and after he refuses to kill his own kind and takes his vengeance on Woe the other sheep reject him out of fear.
  • Tragic Mistake: Chirin breaks with the sheep by becoming Woe's apprentice and later aiding him in hunting other animals. The anime and its commenters suggest that the real tragic mistake was the other sheep prolonging their time to let Chirin mourn for his mother. Without their consoling, Chirin became driven by anger. In any other version of story, Chirin's tragic mistake is and always two: killing Woe and training to become a wolf, essentially going against his nature.
  • Trojan Horse: Chirin is a unique example. He used his training with Woe as a means to kill him later.
  • Uncertain Doom: It's never made clear in any version of the story 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 and Lyrica comic versions imply that he is indeed still alive.
  • Ungrateful Bastard: Applies to the anime version, Chirin was rather disdainful of the other sheep for not fighting back or protesting when his mother becomes Woe's dinner (though in their defense, they were too busy paying their respects for Mama and most likely have a full understanding of how their station in life works, something Chirin does not comprehend given his age). So how does he repay them after all his months of living with them? By making his Face–Heel Turn to the Dark Side and intending to kill them after his training with Woe. When Chirin finally defeats Woe, his own family puts him on the receiving end of this trope by locking him out of the sheep shed. In their case, it's understandable because their reputation of Chirin is now solidified as a dog-killing, sheep-eating wulven ram. They don't even give Chirin a chance to explain himself.
  • 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 goes through two of these after his Face–Heel Turn. First, he really starts to lose it after Woe confronts him over the decision of killing the sheep in his home. And second, after he kills Woe, he screams his name into the mountains.
  • The Villain Must Be Punished: Zigzagged. Chirin wants to kill Woe to avenge his parents, and probably also so that other sheep flocks can live in peace. In addition, he looks up to Woe as a father, and figures that maybe his flock getting killed and eaten by him wasn't much of a total loss, given that it's part of the circle of life and everything.
  • Villain Decay: Woe has gotten pretty old by the story's climax and he doesn't bother fighting back against Chirin.
  • Villain Protagonist: Chirin turns into this later on.
  • Villain Song: The Training Montage after Chirin fully turns to the dark side has "Out Of My Way" (Japanese Version) or "I Am Chirin" (English Dub), an ominous yet awesome tune which, while not directly sung, is told from Chirin's first-person POV as he boasts how he will become just as strong and fearsome as the Wolf.
  • 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.
  • We Used to Be Friends: Woe and Chirin in a very short period of time.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Chirin thinks he's this once he joins Woe. Woe himself is also on the belief that animals have to eat other animals so that they can survive.
  • 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 after he kills the wolf.
    • "I've decided to go with you to hell!" said by Adult Chirin
  • Wham Shot: This story has a few noteworthy examples, the first is Woe entering the sheep shed and the book/movie goes to really dark places from there. What follows are 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.
  • Where the Hell Is Springfield?: The location where the original story takes place is unknown. However the 1978 film strongly implies that the film takes place somewhere in the American Midwest (possibly Maine, Minnesota, or Tennessee) since a skunk and a family of opossums make an appearance and blizzards being common. The time period is also implied to take place sometime in the early 20th century which extends to other adaptations.
  • The Worf Effect:
    • This happens to Chirin's flock as a whole and they are almost completely wiped out by Woe in short order, leaving Chirin as a Sole Survivor.
    • Woe's battle with the bear in the anime just goes to show how powerful he really is compared to a very big bear.
  • 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.
  • Would Hurt a Child: Woe's slaughter of Chirin's family in any version of the story except the anime extends to him killing and eating not just the rams, but the ewes and the lambs, too.
  • Xanatos Gambit: Woe succeeds at crushing Chirin's spirits again, even after death, by ensuring that because of the way he grew up and lived, he will never find comfort in another sheep flock again. See also The Bad Guy Wins.
  • 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 mittened hand attached to blue jeans who gives Chirin his bell in the Lyrica comic.
  • Yank the Dog's Chain: Apart from killing Woe (which he regrets), Chirin is unable to find a new home with any other flock of sheep because his training has transformed him into the very thing he swore to destroy. In the anime, his own family locks the door on him. Either way, he suffers from isolation and bitter loneliness, and whether or not he is still alive, committed suicide, died from hypothermia or died from despair is left as an exercise for the reader.
  • You Could Have Used Your Powers for Good!: Some commentators feel that Chirin could have used his abilities to serve as an unseen protector for his or other sheep flocks.
  • 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