The Nihon Review - Anime Reviews & Editorials

Wolf’s Rain

Title: Wolf’s Rain
Genre: Action/Drama
Company: BONES
Format: 26 episodes; 4 OVA
Dates: 7 Jan 2003 – 25 Feb 2004

Synopsis: In a distant future, in a world stuck in an eternal winter, wolves are disguising themselves as humans to survive. When the world’s ruling Aristocrats start a war for control of a strange maiden named “daughter of the moon flower”, the wolves begin to search for her too, irresistably attracted by her smell. Could this fulfill the ancient prophecy that at the end of the world, the moon daughter will open the gates of Paradise but only the wolves will see it?

The Highlights
Artwork: Beautifully detailed eye candy.
Music: Catchy, Kanno Yoko at her best.
Theme: Innovative premise.
Plot: Mixes action and mysticism perfectly.
Characters: Likable side characters but bland protagonists.
Pacing: Flow disturbed by “filler block.”
Ending: Botched so much that it hurts.

I fell for it. I admit it and bow my head in shame. I was so sure this would be one of the greatest series of 2003 that I encouraged many other people to watch Wolf’s Rain too. How could I have known that my expectations would be so utterly disappointed?

From the first minute, the beautiful art and animation caught my eye, and Kanno Yoko‘s new compositions were as outstanding as always. At last, here was a mystery plot that didn’t seem awfully overdone. There were calm moments and action-packed moments, powerful emotions and perfectly understandable motives for heroes and villains alike. I could even overlook the fact that the main character, Kiba, was a bland and stereotypical “hero guy” and the other wolves were also little more than clichés. At least, they were part of a story that looked fresh and new, and the side characters made up for a lot of the other shortcomings.

My first doubts emerged when right after the first half of the series, there were four recap episodes. Four. One after the other. And no, they didn’t tell you anything new – the best part about them was a new song by Sakamoto Maaya in the last of the recaps. After that, the series picked up speed again, right up to an unresolved climax in episode 26, but the flow was seriously hampered by the “filler block”. Supposedly, Wolf’s Rain should have been a 26-episode TV series but BONES weren’t able to keep the deadline. Okay, so they made four OVAs. Now that they took all the time they needed, at least they made a memorable ending, right?

Wrong. Dead wrong. The last four episodes were the weakest of the entire series. Nothing of relevance to the main plot happened in the first three, and the final episode screwed up a character concept that had been developing for the whole rest of the series, dispatched of all likable protagonists within the first five minutes and turned one of the most promising background stories of the last decade into an overdone, weak and anticlimactic resolution. This makes the entire series look as though BONES never really knew what to make of their own idea.

So here I stand, guilty of letting myself blind by Wolf’s Rain‘s technical qualities and neat concept. I put my faith in a series that only managed to fail all the expectations I had in its plot and resolution. Please let your verdict be mild, your honor. Wolf’s Rain had potential galore. I could have never foreseen it wouldn’t use it in the end.

The Rating: 5

Reviewed by: Taleweaver

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