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Wolverine is the second of four anime titles animated by Madhouse that are based on a Marvel Comics superhero character, which aired in Japan from January 7 to March 25 of 2011. The anime is loosely based on a four-issue arc from Wolverine’s first comic series released by Marvel Comics from September to December of 1982. The series premiered as an English dub in America on the cable network, G4, on July 29, 2011 and was later released to DVD the following year.

The Plot

Oh Logan, what have they done to you?
Oh Logan, what have they done to you?

Logan’s lover Mariko Yashida was abducted a year ago by thugs involved with the crime syndicate Kuzuryu. Learning that she is being forced into marriage with the leader of another syndicate, Logan arrives in Japan to fight his way through various criminals to free Mariko from the marriage.

Notable Characters (from left to right)

  • Wolverine/ Logan- A mutant who possesses the ability to regenerate damage from attacks, heightened senses, superhuman attributes, three retractable claws from each of his hands and a skeleton laced with the indestructible metal known as adamantium. His goal throughout much of the series is to rescue his lover Mariko from the crime syndicate Kuzuryu.
  • Mariko Yashida- Wolverine’s lover and the granddaughter of Kuzuryu’s leader. She is abducted and forced into an arranged marriage with Madripoor’s leader Hideki Kurohagi.
  • Shingen Yashida- The leader of the crime syndicate Kuzuryu and Mariko’s grandfather. A formidable swordsman and martial artist, Shingen has the ability to hurl thrusts of wind with his katana to cut apart his foes.
  • Hideki Kurohagi- The ruler of an island of criminals called Madripoor who is Mariko’s fiancée that she is forced to marry.
  • Yukio- A mysterious woman who comes to Logan’s aid to halt Shingen and Kurohagi’s criminal activity. She makes use of projectile weapons like throwing knives and chakrams in battle.
  • Kikyo Mikage- An assassin recruited by Shingen to kill Logan. He wields a pair of katana laced in adamantium infused in each of his arms which he can use to release cutting wind pressure at his foes and possesses regenerative abilities. Despite being a frequent enemy of Logan’s throughout much of the series, Kikyo has a personal code of honor that prevents him from desiring to kill his target while in weakened condition.
  • Arkady Rossovich/ Omega Red- A serial killer whose body was given superhuman attributes by the Soviet government in their efforts to replicate America’s use of the Super Soldier Formula. He wields a set of tentacles in each arm made of the metal carbonadium that possess the ability to drain the life force out of any foe he ensnares with the tentacles. Because carbonadium possesses poisonous properties, Omega Red must regularly drain the life force of his victims to sustain his health. A device called the Carbonadium Synthesizer was capable of stabilizing his condition, yet this was destroyed by Logan during one of his missions in the Soviet Union. This leads an enraged Omega Red to seek revenge on Logan during his current conflict in Japan.

Why It Sucks

Wolverine’s biggest problem is that the plot arc it adapts from the comics is loosely adapted and mostly serves as a backdrop for the various battles that Logan faces throughout the series. A number of characters in the series like Kikyo and Omega Red only exist to put Logan in various battle scenes to drag the plot out, a good number of whom you don’t really get to learn much about or have no relevance to the main plot of the series.

Omega Red not looking too good.
Omega Red not looking too good.

The series also suffers in that it relies on too many convenient moments to advance the plot. For example, Logan finds himself in trouble at several points in the series yet winds up being saved in the nick of time from characters that happen to conveniently be there at just the right moment. Plus, one certain character’s appearance in the middle of the show is only to toss a bone at fans of the comics and to help get Logan and Yukio to another point in the anime’s plot.

Unlike Iron Man, Wolverine also has its issues with animation, faithfulness to elements of the titular character and accessibility to mainstream fans. While the series retains its detailed scenery and character designs from Iron Man, Wolverine tended to cut corners quite a bit for its animation as still shots, speed stripes and other shortcuts were employed for battle scenes. This made battle scenes feel flat and not as engaging compared to Iron Man’s battles with robots and battle suits in his series.

Logan about to cross blades with Shingen.
Logan about to cross blades with Shingen.

Logan’s character and appearance for this series also raise some red flags in how he is adapted in this series. While the series does retain his abilities from the comics and some of the history he has with certain characters, Madhouse’s design of the character is quite different from his Western counterpart looking like a bishounen and lacking the impressive physique he has from the comics. His restrained attitude in battle, habit of being conveniently saved in instances and the anime having some consistency issues with Wolverine’s abilities kills quite a bit of the badass vibe you would expect of the titular character.

Also depending on exposure, Wolverine’s accessibility may be a problem for fans not as familiar with the comics. While Iron Man made use of elements from its recent 2008 live-action film to give familiarity to casual viewers of it, Wolverine makes quite a number of nods to the comics involving certain characters, organizations and elements within them that would fly over the heads of those not as familiar with the source material.

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