One of my favorite anime of all time is the series Wolf’s Rain. The brilliantly-told tragic story about a group of the last Wolves, trying in vain to reach Paradise. It is a poignant and heart-breakingly sad tale of loss, loneliness and the cost of living. However, unlike most shows, this one is very divisive. People either love or hate it. The reason they love or hate it is because this is a show that demands a lot of the viewer’s attention. See, there is almost no exposition. You have to really be paying attention if you want to know some of the plot’s more important details, such as the divinity of the Wolves, the alchemy of the Nobles or what Paradise truly is and how one gets there. It also doesn’t spell out the relationships, such as Hubb and Cher and how their marriage fell apart. This series doesn’t hold your hand, and that is part of the reason it is so good. I actually treats the audience like a grown-up, letting you realize things on your own.
The series is an allegory to several religious tales. I went into it not knowing all the religions that were being represented, which was fine. The series was good enough to keep my attention, even if I didn’t realize the symbolism of what the divinity of the Wolves and the use of Kiba to open a gate to the Noble’s Paradise meant. The allegory is so heavy in this series that there are few plot points that don’t have some history with it. It’s actually rather amazing how they got this to work, given how such a concept could have crashed and burned. The writers of this series knew that they couldn’t take the approach that so many filmmakers did and try and force the symbolism down our throats. The narrative came first, and whether or not you cared about the symbolism was up to you. You could contemplate it on your own. Again, they treated us like grown-ups.
But the reason that I love this series as much as I do is because of the Wolves. Their journey and self-discovery is so beautiful, but tragic at the same time. The Wolves are considered extinct, following a brutal and ruthless slaughter of their kind by the Nobles. The Nobles were afraid of them because they Book of the Moon told of them opening the way to Paradise when the world was coming to an end. Doing so would finish the destruction of the world. After almost all of their kind were destroyed, the Wolves learned to use their magic to hide in plain sight, appearing as the humans are.
The pack that travels with Kiba (the unofficial leader of their pack) all have harsh background, with each of them trying to run away from their pasts. From Hige’s collar to Tsume’s scar or Toboe’s bracelets, each of them has something that marks them and shows their past. The way that each of them is forced to confront it is brutal and sometimes heart-breaking. The ambiguity of Kiba’s past makes him a kind of mystic of the group. The savior metaphors for this character are not out of place. He very much is a spiritual entity. It is him that convinces them to follow him. The lack of marking on Kiba seems to show that he is uncorrupted by the cruel world that the Wolves live in. The pack that they run into in the factory town is also marked. Being marked is something that almost every Wolf they run into is. That is just one of the subtle little symbols that I just love about the series.
The part that has stuck with me the most, however, is following the destruction of Darcia’s castle. Kiba ends up in the grip of a plant that puts whatever comes near it into a coma, showing them exactly what they want as it slowly consumes whatever gets too close. When he awakens, Kiba is in what he believes to be Paradise. With him is a young woman who is not a Wolf, but something else. A kind of giant cat. She says that she is there to be with him, and that they can be there forever. For a time, Kiba looks like he is willing to accept this beautiful place. It is peaceful and happy, unlike the painful world he has had to exist in up until now. That touches me very personally because I am much like the Wolves. I go through life, trying to find something better. Their idea of Paradise sounds pretty damn good. All I really want out of life is a sunny place where I don’t have to constantly worry about the future. A place where I can just live. A place where I don’t have to drown myself in the pursuit of a good story so that I don’t have to wake up crying in the middle of the night, desperately wanting things to get better and for me not to be a poor kid who has so little hope for things to come. When Kiba is ripped from that world and doesn’t want to go, part of me wonders if I could have left. Part of me would have wanted to stay there forever.
Wolf’s Rain is a tragedy. It is one of the best tragedies I have ever seen. In a world where everyone seems to want stories that have sunshine being blown up their ass, seeing a story that isn’t afraid to make you cry and to hurt you inside is kind of refreshing. However, like I said, it isn’t for everyone. Some people can’t gravitate toward it, and even though I am a judgmental douche who complains when people don’t like the stuff that I like as much as I do, I can kind of get why. Still, if you think you would like it, and haven’t seen it, you really should. You won’t be disappointed.
Until next time, a quote,
“They say there’s no such place as paradise. Even if you search to the ends of the Earth, There’s nothing there. No matter how far you walk, it’s always the same road. It just goes on and on. But in spite of that, why am I so driven to find it? I hear someone’s voice, calling to me.” -Kiba, Wolf’s Rain