The CultWorthy Podcast’s review published on Letterboxd:
What. The. $#@&.
When it comes to disturbing animated films about animals- this may take the cake. This "shockfilm" anime title based off the 1978 Manga by Takashe Yanase is deceiving in it's marketing and presentation - as once you've sat through the film ( which runs less than an hour ) you are left with a dark feeling in the pit of your stomach. What starts cute and innocent ends up violent and disturbing - almost as if Charlottes Web turned into The Shining midway through.
The story begins on a small farm where our main character - a cute little lamb named Chirin - plays in the fields with glee and merriment. His protective mother fears that he may wander to far- so she warns him to never play past the fields, as that's where the sinister wolf king lives- and his favorite meal is a fresh young lamb. To help keep him in her watch, she places a bell around his neck so he can be easily found if he wanders too far. After chasing a bunny off the farm, Chirin finds himself lost in the wilderness- however the bell around his neck has not only helped his mother find him, but also drawn the attention of the Wolf King - who attacks the sheep pen after night falls, killing Chirin's mother and leaving him an orphan. Not satisfied to stay alone in the sheep pen, Chirin escapes to the wilderness where he seeks the wolf king with a startling proposition. Chirin is not content with being a helpless sheep - so he asks to be the wolf king's apprentice. Seeing the hate and rage of Chirin- the wolf king uses this to raise Chirin into a violent and dangerous killer ram - whose horns are sharper than wolf teeth- and for years the two go on killing sprees across the country side. Chirin's final task is to join the Wolf King in the slaughter of all the sheep in the pen - as this will solidify Chirin's turn from prey to predator - but can Chirin go through with it? Watch and find out!
So before we get into it - Yo, George Lucas - is Anakin Skywalker actually Chirin the Lamb? The parallels are just too obvious to dispute- that this lamb who suffered the death of his mother is willing to turn to the darkside to speak and allow himself to be trained and molded into a killler. Even the dialogue is similar! Leaving that aside- this film received critical acclaim upon release - although it was often pulled from public television and schools due to the emotional trauma it caused young viewers with its' startling genre shift midway through. This film is a must see for fans of animation as well as dark revenge stories. Check it out!