Wolverine – Episode 1 (2011)

Wolverine Anime

This is the first episode of the second of the four Marvel anime TV series (Iron Man, Wolverine, X-Men, Blade). Directed by Hiroshi Aoyama (Top Secret ~The Revelation~), story by Warren Ellis (Transmetropolitan), scripts by Kengo Kaji (Iron Man Rise of the Technovore) and animation direction & character designs by Hisashi Abe (Highlander The Search For Vengeance).

The first three of the Marvel Anime got a budget box set release in the UK a year or so back (along with Avengers Confidential). And as I bought the set, I figured I better watch them at some point. So I am going to try and watch Wolverine weekly, as it aired five years ago. It’ll be like it’s 2011 today.

Bishonen Logan
Bishonen Logan.

First thing that struck me in 2016, is it’s even odder to have this young, bishonen Wolverine now than it was in 2011. Nowadays in comics Wolverine is either a young woman or a senior citizen from an alternate future. On screen, he’s Hugh Jackman or Steve Blum’s voice. Nowhere is he the skinny model that appears at the start of the episode. But that matters not. As long as you go “snikt!”, “bub” and heal mortal wounds in seconds you are Wolverine, no matter how beautiful you may be.

As a kid I was fully on board with Wolverine the moment I saw him. Which was not in a comic per se, rather it was in an advert for the Marvel Superheroes Role Playing game. What 9 year old isn’t going to want to know more about this superhero with knives coming out his knuckles? I have remained pretty much on board ever since.

Despite my general pro-Logan stance, I have never read the Claremont/Miller mini-series that this series is taking as its basis. I’ve a vague idea what went down, but the specific details are probably lost to me. So I have no idea if this is going to annoy the hell out of you if were a fan of that.

Our heroes discuss the plot.
Our heroes discuss the plot.

In this opening episode, Wolverine returns to Japan, when a friend, lets him know that his former girlfriend, Mariko Yashida, has been kidnapped by her father with the intent to marry her to an AIM scientist, Hideki Kurohagi.

So he barges straight into their house and ends up duelling the dad by the end of the episode. Which given that earlier they spent a long time with two men sitting in a bar explaining the plot, I was surprised by this burst of momentum.

Shingen Yashida

It has the feel of a show like Golgo 13, in that it is competent, mechanically sound, but lacking flare. And has lots of close ups of men glaring at each other. The high point is Hisashi Abe’s character designs. It feels like they wanted a stereotypical “Madhouse” look, and Abe gave it to them. If anything Logan himself is the odd man out, made to look more handsome and less grizzled than we are used to seeing him.

The episode ends mid-duel with Logan popping his claws, so be back next week to see if the show keeps up this middling level of interest!

to be continued...