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Jin-Roh: The Wolf Brigade Special Edition DVD
Bilingual DVD
3 Disc Box Set
162 Minutes
Mamoru Oshii
Bandai Visual
Production I.G.
Bandai Entertainment
Viz Communications
Is a soundtrack and some extras really worth it?
Overall Rating:

Animefringe Reviews:
Jin-Roh: The Wolf Brigade Special Edition DVD
By Adam "OMEGA" Arnold

Jin-Roh: The Wolf Brigade - just the title alone sounds cool. The movie in and of itself isn't half bad. In fact, it very well rivals Ghost in the Shell in terms of metaphoric complexity. It may not be a clear-cut action or drama, but nevertheless, it is worth any anime fan's time to watch it. It stacks up fairly well to other classics, but it may not withstand the true test of time - because once all the twists and turns have been revealed, the viewer isn't left with much desire to re-watch the movie.

For the uninitiated, Jin-Roh is the brainchild of writer Mamoru Oshii (Ghost in the Shell) and animator turned director Hiroyuki Okiura (Armored Trooper Votoms) and takes place in an alternate post-World War II time line where Japan lost to Nazi Germany in which Japan's police force was broken into clear subdivisions. On one side, you have the Capital Police who try to keep the peace without violent action. On the other side are the Special Forces, which are called in with semi-automatic machine guns and reinforced armor to take no prisoners and clean up the police's mess. The problem in this world is that the government wants nothing more than to shut down the Special Forces and just let the Capital Police take all the glory.

Right from the start of the film, we see the incompetent nature of the Capital Police in the face of a mob of protestors headed by a sect known as the Radical Leftist. Things naturally turn ugly as a bomb laced with a form of napalm is thrown at the police barricade. Below the streets, the Special Forces are already in action trying to flush out members of the sect. Something goes wrong and Constable Kazuki Fuse comes face to face with a red hooded girl carrying a bag. Fuse, who has been given the authority to shoot on sight, freezes and the girl detonates the bag she is carrying.

The story then slows down from this point as it explorers the ramifications of Fuse's screw-up. He is sent back to boot camp to be retrained, all while trying to free himself of the image of the girl committing suicide in front of him. He ends up meeting the girl's older sister, Kei Amemiya, and the two of them soon find themselves trapped in a web of political unrest and sub-factions that slowly progresses to a head that is resolved in an all-out showdown.

Taking the movie as a stand-alone feature with no extras is more than likely how most fans will get to see this flick, because much like Pioneer's Akira re-release, Bandai has chosen to do a standard one disc movie only version and then a special 3 disc collector's edition. The special edition comes in a special gatefold packaging like TV series such as Buffy: The Vampire Slayer with a see-through plastic slipcase to keep the package nice and snug.

Truthfully, other than the chance to have the soundtrack, the extras really do fall short with this release. The director and creator interviews are the highlight of the extras disc in that they very well could have been edited differently and called a ‘making of', and the same information would have presented. The interviews are split into short clips that focus on a particular topic and have the staff talking about how long it took for this film to finally go into production and so on. It's interesting for the sake of completeness, but nothing to write home about.

The theatrical trailers presented on the disc are interesting in that they spoil the ending and make the movie look like an all out war movie. Talk about misleading. Plus, the Japanese trailers could really have used some color enhancements because they look faded compared to the film that the clips are taken from.

The final big extra is the production art gallery, which for me was utterly painful to move through because my DVD player ended up being just the brand of Toshiba that the movie has some serious issues with. Due to some incompatibility, select brands of older Toshiba DVD players may end up having a number of minor or major errors with both the standard and special edition of Jin-Roh ranging from the movie skipping, fast forwarding, acting really slow, displaying subtitles improperly, and a number of other things. The movie works fine on virtually every other DVD player and game console.

Still, the DVD release of Jin-Roh is worth picking up because the movie is a great thing to sit down and watch, even if it's just one time. This movie might be one to consider renting first, just to see what the film is about and to find out if the soundtrack and a few extras are worth shelling out the extra money for.

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