Television; 12 Episodes
Genre: Action, Martial-Arts
Produced: Madhouse, Marvel
Review Off the heels of a mixed reception of Iron Man , Marvel and Madhouse are at it again for the second installment of the Marvel Anime project. The acclaimed Japanese studio of Trigun fame is looking to redeem itself with this outing
Wolverine follows the trend of showcasing a character that has been
pushed into Western fame recently, with the release of the X-Men movies.
While the Wolverine spin off was a disjointed effort, it cemented him
as a pop culture anti-hero. With the sting of Iron Man's wounds fresh on their minds, both studios
have to deliver, to heat up the lukewarm responses. Do they learn from
their past mistakes or just commit the same sins all over again? The
answer is a little bit of both.
Wolverine a.k.a. James Howlett is a man on a mission. His girlfriend
Mariko Yashida has been kidnapped by her father and forced into a
marriage that will broker the flourishing of two crime families. So he's
going to go save her... in Japan. Wolverine favors a more linear and cohesive structure instead of Iron Man' s
quasi serialized. It works in the respect that it focuses the plot and
gives the overall tale some sort of direction. Helping with the overall
pacing of the series, each episode feels full and unrushed. This doesn't
solve the whole host of issues with the rest of the story.
While its commendable that Madhouse dug into Marvel's history to bring
Mariko Yashida, Omega Red and the Principality of Madripoor into the
fold, they are not fully realized. Take for instance the relationship of
Wolverine and Mariko. They substantiate the entire romance in a single
scene at the beginning of the series, trying to make us believe that the
two shared some great love of epic proportions. This poor scripting
deflates the entire narrative. Why the hell does Wolverine care so much
about this woman, that for all we know, only shared one boat ride with
him? Explanation: Best one night stand ever!
Similar holes such as this rear their ugly heads throughout. Its
difficult to understand the motivations of the cast, who seem to be
acting arbitrarily. This is a symptom of the flat characterization and
poor writing. One liners interwoven between melodramatic dialogue does
not build a solid foundation for character development.
greatest offense is the irreverence to its namesake's character. Its as
if they pureed a Wikipedia of his life into the mold of the typical
anime anti-hero. None of the extensive arms and martial arts training of
Weapon X was taken into consideration, let alone his massive combat IQ.
He just teeters between brute and mildly clever.
Production values also seem a bit lackluster for Madhouse. The
character design is uninspired, most of the cast modeled after the
feudal era in Japan. Logan himself has obscene sideburns and a hideous
red biker jacket (which can heal just as fast as him from bullet holes
and knife wounds). The action direction comes off as awkward. While
there is blood, cutaways and odd camera angles are used to hide the
fatal wounds. There are some great action scenes, such as a series of
fights between Omega Red and Wolverine, but others stutter from the
Aurally, the voice acting and sound direction lack personality. Rikia
Koyama, playing the eponymous hero, sounds awkward as he tried to
recreate the iconic growl. He doesn't really get settled into the role
till the end of the series where most of his dialogue is screaming out
the names of the people he is trying to rescue from disaster. His lack
of charisma really deters the show from being engaging. The soundtrack
on the other hand is the pastiche of guitars and orchestral melodies
that were commonplace in Iron Man , forgettable at best.
I can't believe I am saying this again but Madhouse and Marvel have
disappointed me. If you’re just looking for some decent action then take
a chance with Wolverine ,
just don't go in expecting the opera. It more akin to late night local
access cable. With X-Men next up at bat, lets just hope both these
companies don't strike out at the plate.