Suppose we were made from wolves, and the boundary between us an our ancestors was so porous that wolves can appear to be human. Or at least to most humans, one character, an obsessive wolf-hunter and drunkard, can sometimes, when in a drunken stupor, see through the deception.
In such a world, the eschaton of the people who kept the story of our making is being played out: at the ending of the world, Paradise will appear on earth, but only wolves will be able to find it.
But that people and their lore is largely forgotten--a book recording it is banned. Most of humanity lives in domed cities in the wake of some cataclysm or war, seemingly declined to a twentieth-century level of technology from a higher level kept by a noble class, who keep aloof from the populace and keep them under control by police-state tactics or more subtle means, and some of whom remember the old lore, and hope to usurp the place of the wolves as the openers of Paradise.
In classic fantasy-genre form, Wolf's Rain is a quest in the midst of a war, or rather a series of interlocking quests: the wolves' quest for Paradise, and their subsidiary quests for an enigmatic being, Cheza, the Flower Maiden, who seems to hold the key to Paradise; the pursuit of the stolen Flower Maiden by various humans most of whom don't know what she is; and the quest of Hubb Lebowsky, a police detective, first to regain the love of his ex-wife, and then to find her after her research into Cheza's nature (obsessive enough to be the basis for their amicable divorce) sends her, too, in quest of the Flower Maiden.
Character development is mostly predictable--the 'lone wolf' eventually buying into the quest of the pack--though one character, Blue, is given enough conflicts as to make for interesting development.
Not great, but an engaging story--another rent don't own.
On the other hand, it is the first anime I've liked but really disliked the music--especially the opening title. The only musical bright spot is in the ball thrown by the villain of the series in one of the later episodes.
The main caution for parents on this one is violence. Oh, and it is the eschaton, so everyone dies. But I think it's a happy-ending story anyway.
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