The Series (4/5)
In the future, the whole planet is near it’s end. Most of the cities are deserted and poverty is everywhere. In this world, wolves have magic abilities and change into humans to avoid being killed. To find hope, Kiba and his pack of fellow werewolves, search for the legendary Paradise that awaits them.
WOLF’S RAIN (2003-4) is one of the more bizarre anime series to plan on US television. Airing on Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim, I was originally confused by the multiple plot threads and mix of genres. Thanks to Funimation rereleasing the series on Blu-ray I got a chance to get a refresher course. What strikes me about the series is its deep humanist angle, mixed with the strange plot turns. To avoid spoilers, I’ll just say that the show suffers from the same problems many anime face, too much going on. For a 30-episode series, WOLF’S RAIN is just too busy.
The Mad Max style desert town landscape is interesting, just like other series like FIST OF THE NORTH STAR and TRIGUN, but coupled with the sci-fi angle (robots, space ships, etc.) and the werewolf characters, make the show too crazy. Focusing on one or another of the plot details could’ve been a much more satisfying series. Now to focusing on the positive side of this production.
From frame one, the animation by the studio BONES and character designs by Toshihiro Kawamoto, are graceful and awe inspiring. The wolves look, sound and act like the real thing. The smallest gestures are stunning to look at. The backgrounds and city scrapes are rich and full of detail. The characters are all unique and vivid. As for the human element, this series is down beat but full of hope and the joys of being alive. The story isn’t about the ending, but the journey and survival. While the show is uneven, the characters and the quiet moments stayed with me for days.
Audio/ Video (5/5) *
WOLF’S RAIN comes with two main audio tracks. First up is the Japanese Dolby True HD 2.0 channel track. The sound mix is full of life and crisp sound. The soundtrack by Yoko Kanno is a huge highlight. The other track is the English Dolby True HD 2.0 track. The dub is overall fine, while plenty of good voice performances, but I usually still with the original language if possible. Easy to read English subtitles are included.
The 1080p HD picture is near faultless, with some of the most gorgeous color schemes in recent animes. The colors pop off the screen. The motion is natural and on the Blu-ray, you can spot every little detail in the background.
*I watched the series via Blu-ray. When I checked the DVDs themselves, the picture was about the same. Just some minor spots of softness.
Funimation hits another release out of the park with WOLF’S RAIN. The extras are Cast and staff interviews, pilot film, promo shorts, 15-second promos, Textless opening and closing credits, and a trailer gallery. To top the package off, the release has a reversible cover that shows off some fantastic artwork.
While hardly a masterpiece, WOLF’S RAIN is a stunning piece of animation with some wonderful emotional moments caught on film. If you’re an animal lover, this show may knock a tear or two out of you. Recommended.