Been ages (literally two decades) since I read the X-Men comics that the Wolverine anime’s rifting on, so I had to go back and refresh myself to see if my memory was up to snuff.
Apparently it wasn’t, because I thought Mariko died during this storyline. She didn’t get around to dying in the comics until much later (spoiler).
Yeah, it looks like these first few episode of the Wolverine anime are retelling one of Wolverine’s classic storylines. The changes aren’t particularly drastic. AIM wasn’t involved, while in the anime the dude that Mariko’s being forced to marry is apparently some AIM agent. It’s a weird choice given the fact that AIM has never really been a Wolverine/X-Men villain, but I guess the Madhouse peeps wanted to cram as much Mavel-related stuff into this series as possible or something. Despite that, this change isn’t exactly game-changing or anything. All it’s doing is adding a overarcing villain to the storyline, making what will likely be a two or three episode storyline linked to whatever overall scheme that’s going down.
The actual episode was pretty snazzy. What struck me right off the bat was the fact that it didn’t really feel like an anime episode. Yeah, it was animated and all, but the vibe I got from the episode was more like one of those cheesy 90’s syndicated TV shows that you’d see endlessly rerunning on the USA Network late at night or something like that. I think it was the synth-heavy soundtrack and the heavy use of nighttime establishing shots showcasing the lights of Tokyo from a distance. That and the fact that Logan’s teamed up with some generic cop-type dudes straight out of that sort of series. It felt like I was watching an episode of Highlander: the Series more so than Wolverine: the Anime. I’d say that’s a good thing, if only for the novelty.
Everything else looks to be pretty solid. The action was decent, showcasing a bunch of Logan’s tricks. It’s also done a good job of making Wolverine less of a godmoding punkass, something that the comics tended to do far too often. Seeing Shingen kick Wolverine’s ass before pulling off the dirty poisoning trick (Something straight out of the original comics, albeit done secretly and by a different character.) was a nice way of toning down Wolvie and making him less of an all-powerful bore. Sure, his healing factor allowed him to get right back up after being dealt several would-be killing blows, but Logan was clearly outclassed skill-wise. You rarely get to see that in the comics, so it’s refreshing to see it in anime form.
The only thing that kinda sucked were some of the lines Wolverine spouted during his tender moments with Mariko. He was spouting some real corny bits there, talking about how he just wants her to smile or whatever. Damn, dude, you’ve spent too much time watching anime in your Japanese hotel room, Logan. It’s rubbing off on you or something. My memory may be hazy, but you’d never say something that cheesy when Chris Claremont was doing your dialogue. You’d still say something condescending and patronizing, but it wouldn’t be so damn sappy. Still, it was hilarious seeing Wolverine saying those kinds of lines.
Wolverine’s better than Iron Man, but only marginally so. They’re both standard super hero stuff that just happen to be animated by a Japanese company for a Japanese audience. Wolverine’s the better of the two mainly because it seems to be getting to the meat of things a hell of a lot quicker than Iron Man did. This should be a good, solid series.