Jin-Roh: Then & Now

Jin-Roh-2I haven’t written many posts this year regards disc purchases, but I couldn’t resist posting about this new release of the classic Japanese anime feature Jin-Roh: The Wolf Brigade on Blu-ray here in the UK from Anime Limited. If you’re reading this and have never heard of this film, you don’t know what you are missing. I think it was one of the first films to really show me what animation could do- that it wasn’t all just Disney musicals and ultra-violent anime. Jin-Roh is a film with soul, truly a work of genuine art.

Jin-Roh and I have a certain history, as it was one of my earliest DVD imports back when I was in my multi-region anime-collecting phase, and I used to be brave enough to try out anime recommendations from the Internet, sight unseen really (anime was low-profile here back then). Its funny, there were a few times I got burned, buying anime films or series that I watched only once, if not even all the way through, but sometimes I’d get to see something pretty special, like Royal Space Force: The Wings of Honnêamise or Neon Genesis Evangelion. Jin-Roh was just such a blind-buy but thank goodness I gave it at try; I instantly fell in love with it.

jin-roh1It must have been around 2002, when I used to import discs through a retailer in Canada. This special edition of Jin-Roh was a pretty nice-looking set, three discs (film, extras and a soundtrack CD) in a digipack with a booklet (I dread to think how much it must have cost me). Housed in a clear plastic slipcase that had the films logo and white lettering on (the digipack below just being artwork), I still have it now, having kept it on my shelf long after my multi-region player hit the scrapheap and practically all my DVDs replaced with Blu-rays. Its a special film, and one of my favourite films, period,  regardless of it being ‘just’ animation- this film was serious and profound and emotional. I was fortunate the special edition contained the soundtrack on CD as the music score is simply sublime.

Recently a South Korean live-action version was made called Illang: The Wolf Brigade, which has been available on Netflix for a few months now, but I haven’t been able to bring myself round to watching it yet. I’m curious about it but I’m also just a little afraid of it. Jin-Roh is a work of art, something quite unique, I feel, and I’d rather not sully it by comparisons to an inferior live-action remake.

So anyway, Anime Limited have just released this fine edition in a Blu-ray/DVD combo (I’m surprised after all these years that DVD still has such a foothold in anime) so I can not only watch the film again after many years but in HD too. I can hardly wait to sit down with this film again- expect a review sometime soon. As usual for Anime Limited collectors editions, the set is housed in a rigid cardboard box with a glossy 40+ page booklet that looks quite substantial (I just need a magnifying glass to read it, how my eyes are getting). Its nice that this film keeps getting such TLC with home releases. Back in the good old days there was some effort in packaging DVDs, especially in America, something pretty much lost now, so its nice to see such releases still happening today.

I just hope the film still holds up. I’m sure it will, but you know, its been several years since I was last able to watch it- in fact, it may be ten years or more since I last saw it, a fact that seems quite horrifying to me now. The added bonus of seeing it in HD, looking better than it ever did, is certainly an exciting prospect. Perhaps after watching this great film again, I will find courage to finally give that live-action version a go.

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