Man, why didn’t I watch this show when I was younger? I had so many opportunities to do so, but I always turned it down for one reason or another. Why did I do that? Maybe it was because a story about wolves traveling from once place to another was rather silly? Well, there is honestly nothing silly about it. Wolf’s Rain is a well told story about a journey that may lead to a better tomorrow and other people learning to accept a mythology that is actually real. I can’t help but gush other this series, because everything hit home. The visual aesthetic was something I prefer because I fondness for things that were animated from the mid 90’s to the mid 2000’s, there were so many interesting characters, and the world felt complete to me, if that makes any sense.
Wolf’s Rain starts as an episodic show. Four wolves who can disguise themselves as humans and have very different personalities meet in a city that smells like lunar flowers. The lunar flower scent comes from a person that was scientifically put to together from that particular type of flowers. After a noble steals this person, the four wolves begrudgingly join together traveling from place to place looking for it. They do this not knowing that they are fulfilling an ancient prophecy that happens because the world is ending or causes the end of the world to come about. Chasing these wolves is a sheriff from a small town and his dog who hates wolves with a passion, a female scientist who is chasing after her creation, and a detective that used to be married to the female scientist and is still in love with her. These different sets of people come across each other in a lot of different ways not even knowing how they will change each other for the better.
The four wolves names are Kiba, Tsume, Hige, and Toboe. I can only describe Kiba as the “protagonist wolf”. He is a white wolf, the self-designated leader of this rag tag ban, and has the standard chosen one backstory. He was the last survivor of his pack, was kept alive for some reason, and is the one who can open paradise. That’s about it really, he’s kind of a boring character whose only development comes from the others around him and even then he doesn’t change much. Tsume is the thug wolf. He wears a black leather jacket, has a scar on his chest, and is grey. His development involves not turning away from the other wolves and treating Toboe like a younger brother. Moving on to Tobe, he is a red wolf who is the runt of the group. At the beginning of the series, he barely can fend for himself and is attached to human types. That later aspect doesn’t change, but he does learn to handle himself and stick up for what he believes is right. Lastly, there is the fatty, yellow wolfHige who is the most relaxed but afraid of the group as well. For the most part, most of his development happens toward the end of the series because he’s a mystery character. There is also a mystery wolf that joins them later on as well.
Wolf’s Rain’s human characters are great as well. Each one of them adds a lot to the show. Even the older couple and their trailer who we only see every so often. Hubb and Cher, the former couple still have great chemistry together, even if they aren’t married anymore. Hubb is the detective that has never thought too far ahead about what he wanted to in his life besides be a detective changes a lot through the story. Cher, as the scientist who created Cheza (the plant person) had her life based on building Cheza which ruined her and Hubb’s marriage. In the series, she still has that drive and attachment to her that when Cheza is stolen, Cher goes after her. This leads to Hubb following her and eventually meeting up with Quent, the former sheriff with his dog blue who is hunting down wolves. Seeing those two interact with each other was hilarious. Even the main villain, Darcia the third is incredibly sympathetic and interesting. There is a lot of great character work in this show.
The two aspects that sold me on the show were the mythology and the world building. The world of Wolf’s Rain is a desolate place that is slowly ending by Ice (insert Robert Frost poem here). Everyone is on edge and trying to survive while the nobles are thriving still. In the beginning, Tsume was leading a small rebellion against the nobles. Oh yeah, this is the future too. Nobles have their own military units with advanced gear and there are sky ships with that have lasers and shields. They even have their own cities. The fact that the nobles have all this technology and normal people don’t really sinks in how far above the nobles are from everyone else. As for the mythology aspect, it’s very simple but it’s used well in the story. The book of the Moon is heavily referenced and read throughout the show. A book that tells about how humanity is descended from wolves, how wolves and the flower maiden are the only ones that can open paradise, and how wolves searching for paradise is a sign of the end times. Whether or not the end is brought near us by wolves searching for paradise or wolves searching for paradise when the end is coming is left ambiguous. That’s an excellent way to treat it.
This show’s visuals appealing to me greatly. I started watching anime in the early 2000’s and this style is my jam. The character designs are very realistic and so are a lot of the movements. I’m pretty sure the character designer from Cowboy Bebop worked on this, so that makes sense. I know that jumping fifteen feet in the air isn’t realistic to a lot of people, but every single action other than that felt possible. I miss when shows were more grounded like this. I also miss when shows were mostly hand drawn and cg was only used as a supplement. I know that cg was used in the show, but it was used incredibly sparingly. Also, the music. I am just going to say Yoko Kanno and leave it at that. It’s beautiful and unique like all of Yoko Kanno’s works.
Wolf’s Rain’s final four episodes are like emotional cut punches. Each one has a terrible cliff hanger ending and a character death that is absolutely horrible. I am not going to say that this was a bad ending for the sake of having a bad ending. Each bad thing that happens happens because of how each character has developed to their point. The characters stay true to who they are and where they went in the show. A sort of encapsulation of what who they are, if you well. These four episodes are also an ova portion of the show that aired later on after the series ended, due the production issues that Studio Bones had during its original run. There is an original ending, but it’s not as strong as these four episodes because it’s open ending. If nothing else, these four episodes are a very definitive ending. For the most part. You will understand when you watch it.
So yeah, I couldn’t help but gush about this show. I discovered a new favorite by watching this. It’s not flawless. There are four recap episodes in the middle of the series, the beginning of the series is a little bit of a mess, Kiba is a bland protagonist, and series’ flow was very skewed, but everything else worked for me. I will have you know that this is one of the few series that I’ve ever cried about after watching it. If you don’t know ol’ stone hearted me, that’s quite an achievement. I can’t help but recommend this show to everyone and say “watch it if you haven’t seen it already”. It’s just that amazing of a piece of work.