Wolverine is the second of the four Marvel Anime projects. Marvel Anime began with the widely lambasted Iron Man anime, X-Men is currently airing in Japan with a mixed to nonexistent reception, and Blade (undeniably the installment I’ve been most excited about) is coming sometime this summer.
Wolverine, the grumpy cigar-chomping, whiskey-swilling antihero, is a perfect character for anime. He’s a perfect character for Madhouse, the animation studio behind Marvel Anime. This series doesn’t feature Wolverine, it features a man with a mullet who happens to call himself Wolverine. If that’s a deal breaker, then this show is not for you. This incarnation of Wolverine doesn’t even match the meager intensity found in the X-Men live action movies.
What you get here is a relatively entertaining, if somewhat generic, action anime. Logan, aka Wolverine, aka bishonen Kaiji, is told a woman from his past is now tied up with a notorious crime syndicate, so he goes to Japan to save her. Of course things get more complicated as he runs into a bunch of other characters, some from the Marvel Universe and others not.
In the first few episodes, the series feels like a watered down Yoshiaki Kawajiri movie (Ninja Scroll, Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust), which is high praise. There’s not a shred of episodic tendency, and what’s going to happen next is not always predictable. You even get two of the archetypal Kawajiri characters: Logan, the unassuming everyman who knows how to take a punch, and Yukio, the tough chick with short hair, reluctantly working with him.
Somewhere towards the middle and end, things get muddled. Characters that were previously defeated return ever so slightly modified, simply to fill episodes that don’t quite move the story forward. It never becomes episodic, but Wolverine loses the momentum and unpredictability it had in the beginning, which is a real shame. And the ending. I won’t spoil anything, but let’s just say it unfolds in an unironically inane manner.
I can only recommend Wolverine unenthusiastically, which means I’m better off not recommending it at all. At the very least, it provided a nice reprieve from the X-Men anime, which has a great look to it but started to suffer from “nothing is really happening anymore” syndrome recently.