Wolverine – 01 (Review)

Wolverine – 01

SPOILER Summary/Synopsis:

Wolverine - 01On a docked yacht in New York, Logan is with his girlfriend Mariko when they are attacked by professional killers and in the process, Mariko is taken.  A year later, Logan saves his visiting Japanese cop friend, Asano, from being killed by a group of soldiers from Advanced Idea Mechanics.  In a local bar, Asano reveals that he knows the location of Mariko — Tokyo.  Further, Asano informs Logan that Mariko’s father is the head of the yakuza group Kuzuryu, YASHIDA Shigen, something he didn’t know although Mariko had apparently tried to tell him.  Shigen is a sword master Mariko is now in an arranged marriage with KUROHAGI Hideki, the current owner of the majority of a sovereign island state known as Madripoor, which is notorious for its criminal connections.

Wolverine - 01Agreeing to assist Asano to help take down Shigen and Kuzuryu, Logan comes to Tokyo.  However, he deviates from the police plan so that all Asano and his team can do is watch from their surveillance vehicle.  Logan infiltrates the back way passed the high tech security and observes Mariko, dressed in a kimono, out on the engawa which traverses the outside of the traditional Japanese mansion.Shigen senses something wrong and goes out to meet his daughter after first grabbing a couple of katana. Shigen launches one of the swords at Logan’s direction, flushing him out.  Shigen orders his men to dispatch the infamous “Wolverine” but Logan takes the first batch down instead.

Wolverine - 01Shigen tells Logan that he can take Mariko from here if Logan can defeat him in a sword fight. Shigen scoffs at the notion of Logan handling a katana and states that they will use boken instead.  Logan agrees and in the dojo, the two square off with many of Shigen’s men watching as well as Mariko.  Logan’s lack of skill with a sword quickly becomes apparent as Shigen easily avoids any hits by Logan but manages to land some devastating blows on Logan. Logan’s mutant healing powers cause him to quickly recover from any attack Shigen dishes out, even a ranged wind attack with his boken.  This makes the fight a draw until Hideki shoots Logan with a dart filled with a paralyzing agent which works faster than Logan’s healing factor. Mariko says this is cheating but Hideki says he is merely leveling the playing field. The poisoned Logan becomes enraged and decides to forgo the boken and just use his claws instead.

Thoughts/Review: 

Wolverine - 01I passed on the opportunity to watch the anime version of Iron Man because frankly, I’ve never been an Iron Man fan.  However, I’ve been a fan of X-Men going back to early 1983.  When I started reading, Wolverine was soon to be married to Mariko and a bunch of things got in the way.  I took an immediate liking to Wolverine’s character and my first taste of Japanese culture.  Now here I am nearly twenty-eight years later and Wolverine is starring in his own anime, which is based off of the Wolverine comic book series from 1982 (well, this first episode was certainly from that series).  While I’ve not read that comic series, I am somewhat aware of its contents and apparently, this first anime episode pretty much follows the basic story there.

Wolverine - 01As I watched, there was nothing here to trigger my sense of this not being an American story mostly set in Japan.  I started by looking for Japanese honorific usage during the scenes set in New York and those weren’t there.  In Japan, honorific usage is to be expected and it was there to a limited fashion, as it was in the Marvel Comics (well, at least in the X-Men comics I started reading in 1983).  So I appreciated the writers taking that into account in their adaptation. Of course since the anime appears to be geared to an older audience, the production team may be assuming the viewers didn’t need to be given any spoon feeding.

Wolverine - 01Next is the character of Wolverine.  Nothing about how he is portrayed came off poorly to me or rang falsely.  Indeed, despite Logan’s character designs not being as cool as his look has been at times in Marvel Comics, he felt very much like Wolverine, howbeit without the X-Men costume.  Logan’s moments with Mariko are tender, which is how I remember him being with her back in the 80’s.  On the other hand, Logan’s “take no prisoner” approach is shown and not played down.  While the production team doesn’t overdo it, blood is shown and there’s no doubt with me that Logan is killing his opponents.  I really appreciated this aspect of the anime because anything less wouldn’t be Wolverine.  They even had him catch his falling beer can after a fight which made me laugh.

Wolverine - 01The story moves at a pretty decent pace.  For the Japanese (or other) viewer who might not be familiar with Wolverine, the introduction scene is perfect to not only set Logan off on his quest to find Mariko, but also allows the viewer to know that Logan isn’t just a normal human, but one with massive healing powers and then someone with massive, metal claws.  Shigen is set up as a traditional samurai warrior type with special fighting techniques such as the wind-based attack that split Logan open and which would have killed a normal human.  The fight between the two came off pretty well considering Logan’s lack of skill with the katana.

Wolverine - 01One thing that I know was somewhat changed from the original comic book story is Logan’s poisoning.  As I understand it, Logan was poisoned before being summoned to see Mariko’s father.  Thus she never knew about this and when Logan shifts to using his claws rather than the boken, it is seen as dishonorable while at the same time, Shigen lands blows on Wolverine to kill him.  Since Logan was poisoned with Mariko a witness, it will be interesting to see what her reaction will be now that Logan has gone to the claws.  Also, will Logan be nearly killed?  I’m guessing so but how they work it with Mariko present will be interesting.

Wolverine - 01The weak aspect of the story is how Asano planned to use Logan to take down Kuzuryu and Shigen.  It was never explained what Logan’s role would be or how this could be done so that Logan could rescue Mariko. I kinda doubt that this will be explained now.

So, an interesting and good start to this Japanese take on a well liked American superhero and for major fans of Wolverine, a pretty well known comic book story from the early 80’s.  I look forward to seeing where this series goes.

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5 Responses to “Wolverine – 01 (Review)”

  1. Y’know, this was a better first episode that Iron-Man’s and overall I feel it is a better anime: unlike Iron-Man’s episodic nature, this one is more of a whole, single arc.

    Plus, the ending hints at two classic Wolverine villains and the first one to appear IS awesome.

  2. evgenidb says:

    Yeah, I also think that this is the better story arc than that of Iron Man.

    Also, two news:
    Firstly, the next story arc apparently would be about X-men, so Wolverine probably serves a little as an introduction to the mutants. And after that is Blade.

    And second, apparently the sequel to “X-men Origins: Wolverine” would feature a similar story – Japan, Mariko, samurai and ninja, katanas, etc.: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/X-Men_Origins:_Wolverine#Sequel

    Principal shooting would begin in March 2011 in New York and then move to Japan.

    Sounds familiar?

  3. AstroNerdBoy says:

    I’m a little frustrated that I haven’t been able to watch more episodes. Maybe in a few days. ^_^;;;

    feel it is a better anime: unlike Iron-Man’s episodic nature, this one is more of a whole, single arc.

    Well, that would make sense considering the 1982 comic the series takes as a starting point. I really should try to buy that at some point.

    Sounds familiar?

    Yep! ^_^

  4. I think I remember something about Mariko in Spiderman vs Wolverine 1…The one that was based in East Germany…Or am I getting confused?

  5. AstroNerdBoy says:

    I don’t think I read that one so I can’t say. I will say that Mariko was someone very dear to Logan and he almost married her except that Mastermind interfered.

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