Chris Claremont was (and still is) one of my favorite writers when it comes to the X-Men and Wolverine. In 1979, he created the character Mariko Yashida, and in Marvel Anime: Wolverine, she becomes the sole focus of Logan’s attention. The woman he thought murdered ten years ago is found kidnapped and he goes to Japan to win her back, in this Japanese translation by another epic writer, Warren Ellis.
In the same series of Japanese Anime versions which previously brought us Marvel Anime Iron Man and Marvel Anime X-Men, Sony has now released Wolverine’s edition as well as Marvel Anime Blade. The anime seems to fit Wolverine the best of the ones I’ve seen: this storyline is truly Japanese, and the translation of style makes this quite spectacular.
The premiere episode plays like the storyline of the comic storyline that Claremont created around Logan and Mariko. We’ve seen Wolverine/Logan driven by rage, or pulled into a battle because he’s tired of watching a bully beat on an innocent victim. But here he’s challenging an army of Yakuza-like bad guys and taking on Advanced Idea Mechanics (AIM) who have coupled with these Madripoor gang members for business reasons.
While the story will progress as Logan tries to find true love even as fans already know where this is going, they’ll also be excited to watch Omega Red get his moment in the sun… and all of the special features that chronicle the characters, transition, and more. But we’re continually pulled back into the story of Wolvie’s epic battle in the Japanese samurai system.
Shingen Yashida is the villainous would-be fiance of Mariko who I found a good bit creepier than Omega Red. There’s something about the sometimes sneaky, sometimes bold, but always dangerous scientist wackjob which is more realistic. He’s violent in his own way—and he requires Wolverine to not just punch away, and claw away, because he gets outsmarted if he doesn’t think.
The series is more violent, more graphic, than most of what has come our way in animation in America. The epithets are stronger, the blood flies, and the villains are more intent on torture and such than the straightforward, power-hungry American cartoon villains. Somehow, rather than being distasteful, this makes the series more appreciable for older fans who don’t think Wolverine is the pushover that he can appear to be in some of the watered down X-men animated titles. Wolverine is a good guy who gets dirty, because if he doesn’t, others will pay the price.