Wolf's Rain
Episodes 9-10

by James Beckett,

How would you rate episode 9 of
Wolf's Rain ?

How would you rate episode 10 of
Wolf's Rain ?

Man, talk about tonal whiplash. Here in this week's Wolf's Rain double-header, we have “Misgivings," which sees Quent and Blue's story fracture apart as their hunt for the wolves gets tangled into all of the other human nonsense going around, and it's a very grim affair to say the least. Then we follow that up with “Moon's Doom," which certainly has its dark waters to navigate, but it's also about the Good Boys and their Flower Girl getting lost in some spooky woods while a rhyming owl taunts them with riddles. What's even more surprising is that I think I liked the goofy owl episode more between the two of them?

Rather, I think it would be appropriate to say I “enjoyed” Moon's Doom more, because Jesus does “misgivings bum me out.” Ostensibly an opportunity for Quent to get some character development, all it really does is make me incredibly sad for poor suffering Blue, and it reinforces my certainty that Quent is, in fact, a bastard. Do you want to see a sad dog getting beaten, shot, and then repeatedly abandoned by the one human it's supposed to be able to trust for a half-hour? If so, well, you're an unforgivable monster, but Wolf's Rain has got you covered, apparently.

I think part of the reason I'm so frustrated by “Misgivings” isn't that it is a bad episode; it just doesn't provide the much needed context for its human stories that it so desperately needs, especially if it is going to commit so much time to exploring the tragedy of Quent pulling a Captain Ahab and letting his hunt for mythical beasts consume his humanity. That's sad, I guess, but I still don't know why he's doing any of this, outside of the vague notion that wolves killed his family or something. For that matter, I don't know why any of these people are doing anything. Darcia apparently wants to save his comatose bride or something, which is fine, but that's the foundation of a backstory, not a full set of human characteristics. Quent wants revenge for some reason, the human soldiers want Cheza for… some reason, which is what Cher also wants, I think? Or maybe she just wants The Truth™? And Hubb is still around, chatting up a snake expert who may also be a sex worker (is this a Blade Runner reference or something?). He wants Cher, I guess, and by extension information about the truth of the wolves because…

Look, I just don't have a clear understanding of any of it, which makes it very difficult more me to care about much of anything that happens in this episode that isn't specifically about the wolves and/or Blue tearing people up like bloody tissue paper. The Good Boy Pack also has a fairly flimsy set of motivations for their whole deal—they want to find Paradise because that's just what wolves do, apparently—but that is a degree of fairy tale ambiguity that I am prepared to accept. The Good Boys want to keep their weird flower friend safe, and they also want to find Paradise. It's two MacGuffins for the price of one, but I'll take a double MacGuffin combo over obtuse human ennui any day, at least in a story like this one.

Hence, “Moon's Doom," which is mostly concerned with giving the Good Boy Pack a good old-fashioned Wolf Adventure, which is pretty fun to watch all things considered. We also get Cher just kind of wandering into Darcia's company, which leads to some exposition that we can unpack later. It's all very serious and important, to be sure, but I don't know how you expect me to focus on that when the Good Boys run into this rhyming forest owl that leads them into a cavern filled with giant bugs they have to fight their way through. That's just art, is what it is.

There's a whole thing about the wolves wondering what Cheza even eats, which kind of ties into the reveal that the bugs are being eaten by a bunch of giant Venus Flytrap-looking things in the cave they escape, and while I don't know why one thing had to follow the other, sure, why not. Bug flowers. Really, all of feels more like killing time while Cher susses out more details regarding Cher's true nature from Darcia, which, again, I can barely be bothered to care about, though we do at least learn one important thing: Cheza, being a literal plant person, is doomed to live a very brief life. She can feed off of moonlight, which makes sense on account of the whole Lunar Flower thing, but she only has a few moon meals to go before she expires.

It isn't exactly a “twist," since third-person talking fairy girls like this one are practically stamped with expiration dates the moment they show up on screen, but it's one more block to add to the wolves' ever more precarious Jenga tower of imminent misery. I've been prepared for that from the get-go; I've already got my hanky boxes locked and loaded. We've got to draw a line somewhere, though, which is my way of saying that Blue better come back soon, and she better get some modicum of happiness for at least a little bit. Is that too much to ask, Wolf's Rain?

You know, having thought about it for just a second, yeah, it probably is.

Rating:

Odds and Ends

Who's a Good Girl!? That's right folks, the honor goes to Blue, who I think is a girl based on my memory of the first episode. Either way, #JusticeForBlue, and Quent is a rat bastard for leaving her to bleed out all alone like he did. Hige and Toboe also remain as good as ever, though it's weird when Cheza gets all cuddly with their human forms, and while that's the joke the show is playing up… I dunno, man, it's still weird.

• Toboe and Hige trying to jump out and scare Kiba is also just too damned cute.

• There weren't any animation hiccups as bad as that atrocious aerial fight from last week's pair of episodes, but we still get some surprisingly notable gaffes every now and then, like this high-angle shot of Cheza that apparently completely forgot what anime noses look like in close-ups? Is it just me, or does this one shot look weirdly wonky and out of place?

Wolf's Rain is currently streaming on Funimation.

James is a writer with many thoughts and feelings about anime and other pop-culture, which can also be found on Twitter, his blog, and his podcast.


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