There is a trend I have found in the animations I watch, ranging from really happy to upsettingly tragic. Now if you don’t know Wolf’s Rain you should know that it falls on the latter. It’s one of the most upsetting things I have ever watched and continues to make me cry every time I watch it. And because of that I know it holds up very well to this day.
The storyline goes that humanity is on the edge, society barely holding on, and four wolves are looking for Paradise. Basically wolves have been considered extinct for years but in actuality it really hypothesized that they are able to shape shift and take on a human form. Or rather they are able to trick the human eye, but who knows? Anyway because of this wolves have been able to survive despite everything. But there is this compulsion on the wolves to find a place called Paradise, which many packs have died trying to find, and our four are willing to chance it all. So there’s also a flower maiden, a bad guy, and humans who are involved by mere coincidence. Also there are a lot of ideas and undertones that may be hard to catch during a first watch, like how in the show it may be possible that humans evolved from wolves rather than apes. But let’s get onto characters for now.
Kiba is our lead, an artic wolf, who is the most driven to find Paradise, so much so that he may be hindered by it. He’s difficult and moody, but also is compelled by the idea of fate and wolves. Pride is a major downfall for him, as he was almost too prideful that he wouldn’t change his form to survive, as it was giving up his pride as a wolf.
Tsume is our hot headed wolf, a grey wolf, who could really care less about the whole idea of Paradise. Honestly he just feels saddled with the others, even though he really cares very deeply for his friends. Somehow he always found himself in a pack, filled with wolves or humans, even though he feels like he could do it all alone.
Toboe is our young naïve wolf, a red wolf, who was raised by a human woman as a pet. He is extremely naïve to the cruelty of humans and doesn’t understand why they’re being hunted as he was shown nothing but love and warmth from his ‘grandmother.’ He really relies upon Tsume, despite the other’s rude words, and wants to find Paradise.
Hige is our carefree wolf, a Mexican Wolf, who’s always been okay with living a dual life. Well that is until he meets Kiba. He is a pig and talks about food a lot, yeah, he’s that character. But there is a twist in his character that I will leave out for spoiler’s sake. There’s a lot more going on, but we don’t learn that for a while.
Cheza is the Flower Maiden, a being created via alchemy, and is basically viewed as a possible way to get into Paradise. She loves the wolves, like a lot, they’re her family, and she is pained badly when they’re hurt.
There are a whole slew of others, but really we’re focused on those main five, who we start off with and end with. But each character is unique with clean animation. Created by Keiko Nobumoto and the characters were designed by Toshihiro Kawamoto While it does have a certain age feel about it that doesn’t hurt a lot, as like Cowboy Bebop or Trigun it holds up still to this day. It’s one of few that I haven’t cringed watching, I mean there are times, but it’s isn’t like watching xxxHolic. The only complain I have is that the colors aren’t as vibrant as I wish they could be, but hey that could just be a style choice. Also sometimes the eyes look weird, but like I said style choice. Also, there are really splendid animation scenes and unfortunately it always at a death scene. I suppose if you’re going to save your animation budget you might as well save it for the scenes that will rip your viewer’s hearts apart. That’s also where the colors really stand out, with the blood against the pure white snow, and it works perfectly. A lot of it comes down to it being unique in designs that I’ve never seen put together before, an ice age-esque world where almost everything is extinct, and it shows in its style and clean lines. Even choices down to what a character is wearing, like the wolves in their human forms, fits the characters perfectly. I can’t imagine a version of Hige that doesn’t wear a baggy sweatshirt or a version of Kiba without his stupid grunge look. And like it’s unique look it’s sounds is insanely different.
Now the sound is actually strange, the opening and ending are both English, even in the original Japanese. The opening, Stray, is a rock song, and it is awesome. High paced and sort of just fits that wolf tone of the show. Gravity, the ending theme, is slower, and shows the sadder side to the show. It’s not unpleasant actually and it fits the already weird style of the show. The English cast is actually very good for its time, though I have never been a fan of a female voice actress trying to do a male character voice, and that’s just a personal thing. Though really Crispin Freeman being in the show really shows the higher quality expected. I’ve never watched the original so I have no idea how to feel about the Japanese cast, but ultimately I’m very attached to English production. Also the sounds for the wolves were perfect, from growls to bites; it’s intense to listen to. It has a crisp sound that you don’t hear often in anime, at least not anymore, and it’s so perfect. So I fall towards the preference of the dub and that’s merely because I’ve only watched that version.
The only grip I have is that there is that episode 15 through 18 are recaps of what we’ve already seen. It’s completely unnecessary and does nothing but annoy the viewer the same way Endless Eight of the Haruhi Suzumiya series did. It pointless and you can honestly just skip over those episodes.
This anime is one of my favorites and continues to wreck me every time I watch it. While it’s on the mature side, definitely for a slightly older audience, it’s unique and continues to hold up to my expectations. It’s remains to be a bit clearer whenever I sit down and watch, while still being covered in hidden messages.
Wolf’s Rain: 8.5/10