Jin Roh Anime Review
US Release By
Allegorical Political Thriller
In an alternate Japan that turned out very differently after World War II, Kazuki Fuse is a member of an elite antiterrorist police squad. Haunted by the image of a suicide bomber girl he watched die, his life changes when he becomes involved with her sister. As tension builds between branches of the police forces, Fuse becomes a pawn in the increasingly deadly political game.
Superficially, Jin Roh is a story set in an alternate past about a super soldier torn by his own conscience after witnessing the death of a young political activist, and stuck in the middle of a political battle (with real casualties) between two government agencies. Simultaneously a complex political drama (far more than can be effectively absorbed in a single viewing) and a more personal look at the humanity of a single soldier, the plot offers a variety of twists and turns, never letting the viewer see enough of the picture to guess what, exactly, is really going on--politically, or in the protagonist's head. It also offers an additional level of allegorical symbolism by paralleling the very concrete main story with a version of Red Riding Hood, with human frailty and our inner beast cast as the characters.
This is Mamoru Oshii doing what he does best, and doing it as well as he does--a subdued, gritty, unflinchingly but sparingly violent look into the darker corners of the human spirit. I will admit that it is definitely not my kind of movie--I don't generally like the sort of spy drama from which this takes many subtle cues, progressing toward an inevitable end, even though the path it takes is full of twists and turns. But I cannot deny that Jin Roh is a powerful film and exactingly successful at what it wants to be.