The Nihon Review - Anime Reviews & Editorials

Wolverine

Title: Wolverine
Genre: Action
Company: Madhouse Studios
Format: 12 episodes
Date: 7 Jan 2011 – 25 Mar 2011

Synopsis: Logan, a powerful mutant otherwise known as Wolverine, meets his old friend Asano in New York after saving him from a mysterious group of men. He learns from Asano the whereabouts of his lover Mariko, who was abducted the other day by the same group of people, as well as her background: she is the daughter of Yashida Shingen, a powerful swordsman who is also the head of the largest organized crime syndicate in Japan known as Kuzuryuu. He also finds out about Mariko’s prearranged engagement with Shingen’s crime organization ally, Kurohagi Hideki. In order to save her, Logan must head to Kurohagi’s home based in Madripoor, the most lawless sovereign city-state in the world.

The Highlights
Logan: Absent of charisma and presence as the titular protagonist; just not “Wolverine” enough.
Characters: Uninspiring and one-dimensional; Yukio is no more than a trophy.
Aesthetics: Shoddy animation and inconsistent quality.
Story: Reuses the same plot template from Iron Man.
Nerd raeg: Now that’s Strike #2.

Iron Man is a dud, which is not an ideal thing for the MarvelMadhouse collaboration to have as the first work for its four-part project. And now, instead of trying to turn its luck around, an even bigger disappointment has been churned out in the form of Wolverine, with the titular comic icon as the second superhero victim. Like Iron Man, the lead character himself is one of its biggest setbacks; uninteresting, uncharismatic and uninspiring, Logan doesn’t possess all the essential qualities needed for his role. An uncanny healing factor and indestructible adamantium claws he may be popular for, but what leaves this anime version of the superhero wanting are a lack of presence and raw emotions. Simply put, he has been reduced to a pathetic shadow of a character who is, in other places, immensely popular for his bursts of unrestrained rage and intensity.

The story looks like one out of an ’80s action anime: a girl gets kidnapped, and the hero must go against all odds in order to get her back. The simplistic and unoriginal premise is accompanied by a plot that is too predictable, the combination being a result of slothful writing and creative slumps. The series of events follows the same pattern as MarvelMadhouse‘s first work, which includes the “someone dies” trope. Just when things can’t get any worse, there is also the band of stereotypical figures: there’s the all-powerful Big Boss and his dastardly partner-in-crime, the female trophy that the hero pursues, the female sidekick and the enemy-turn-ally extra. One of Logan’s well-known enemies did spice things up a little with his cameo appearance, but it’s quite a shame that it doesn’t contribute anything to the plot at all.

The minimal plot, uncreative writing and forgettable characters have rendered Wolverine an average show, but the terrible animation and art quality drag it down even further. The animation is anything but fluid, and the art can range from tolerable to terrible. Instances of dismal visuals crop up in momentous episodes leading up to the climax, looking as though the show was facing production budget cuts. It is quite unthinkable that Madhouse can present a rather shoddy work, since the production studio may be perceived as one of the few that don’t cut corners on the visuals when it comes to action sequences. On the topic of action sequences, a handful end up being amusing with unintentionally laughable moments that look like they’re taken from a tacky ‘B’-grade action flick.

As of now, it is still too early to conclude that the collaboration between Marvel and Madhouse is a complete disaster. But judging from its first two products, it seems to be heading in that direction, and there’s a chance that X-Men and Blade will suffer the same fate. It’s not hard to imagine that Wolverine fans will be raging over this series, especially when its Western animation and comic adaptations have shown to be way better in every aspect, be it storytelling, character exploration or even artwork. I recommend people to simply give this a miss because, unless they are in for some lame action and a cheesy love story, they are not missing out on anything substantial.

The Rating: 4
4/10

Reviewed by: AC

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