Julien Neaves, Editor
Between 2010 and 2011 four anime TV series and two direct-to-video films were produced in a collaboration between Marvel Entertainment and Japanese animation studio Madhouse. The four 12-episode series were based on Blade, Iron Man, X-Men and Wolverine. I checked out the last two recently on Netflix and I previously reviewed X-Men (I’ll link that below). For this article we will be looking at the anime take on the regenerating mutant with anger management issues.
The series finds Wolverine in Japan (a country he is closely associated with in the comics) and teaming up with a mysterious, cat-suit wearing woman (Yukio) to battle a crime syndicate and rescue his love Mariko. I’ll keep the spoilers mild for this one.
Slice 1: Logan, Is That You?
First let’s deal with the mutant in the room. The series may be based on the mega-popular X-Man, but this is not a completely comic book-accurate version. Sure anime Wolverine (let’s call him “AW” for short) has retractable claws, healing ability and a highly aggressive manner, but instead of the short, hunched and hairy comic-book Wolverine (or “CBW” if you will) AW is tall, lanky and has the good looks of a K-Pop leading man. And while CBW’s adamantium claws can cut through almost any material, AW’s claws can’t cut through steel Japanese swords. Bogus!
But the series does establish his X-Men connections, including a cameo from a popular X-Man, so at least the origin is solid. And once you get past the cognitive dissonance, AW is a likeable hero who settles all his problems with his fists, feet and, of course, his claws.
Slice 2: There Will Be Blood. Kinda
Now one would expect a combination of one of the most violent comic book characters ever with the art form of anime, which has produced some of the goriest animation ever, to be a gloriously bloody bonanza. Well, the Wolverine anime is an odd mid point between your tame Saturday morning cartoon fare and mature, gory anime like Hellsing or Berserk. So yeah there is some blood and a lot of killing, but it never goes over the top, which I was actually disappointed by. Man, Logan was bloodier than this.
Muted murder scenes aside, the series does deliver enough action to keep viewers entertained over the 12 episodes. The battles range from Wolverine and Yukio battling groups of baddies, to sword-versus-claw duels, to fights with a giant monster, to multiple showdowns with vicious Marvel villain Omega Red. I also found the action much more satisfying (both in quantity and quality) than the aforementioned X-Men anime.
Slice 3: Turning Japanese
And speaking of anime X-Men, I also found the Wolverine anime’s plot much tighter and sleeker. Sure there are a few subplots but the focus remains on the main story — Logan’s bloody rescue mission. And the narrative moves along quickly adding new and interesting locations and characters without ever dragging.
And despite AW not being, well, Wolverine, and the blood and guts being toned down, I still found the series entertaining. It may not be the best at what it does, but what it does is very nice.
Editor Jules’ Score: 7.5 out of 10
Julien “Jules” Neaves is a TARDIS-flying, Force-using Trekkie whose bedroom stories were by Freddy Krueger, learned to be a superhero from Marvel, but dreams of being Batman. I love promoting Caribbean film (Cariwood), creating board games and I am an aspiring author. I say things like “12 flavours of awesome sauce”. I can also be found posting about TV and movie memes, news and trailers on Facebook at Movieville.