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COVERAGE - WOLVERINE SERIES REVIEW
Wolverine Synopsis: The love of Logan’s life, Mariko Yashida, is forced back to Japan by her father Shingen, a notorious crime lord. Once in Japan, she is forcibly betrothed to Kurohagi, a cruel criminal associate of her father, to solidify their business interests. Logan is determined to get her back, yet is plunged into a tangled web of corruption and violence at every turn. But with the help of young assassin Yukio, he just might manage to claw his way through the criminal underworld to confront Shingen and save Mariko.
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Wolverine Series Review
By James Harvey
It’s funny. Wolverine gets so much right about the title character – his background, attitude, overall gruff demeanor – but saddles him with a bizarre character design and a questionable voice actor in Milo Ventimiglia (Heroes). That being said, I did enjoy this series even if it drags itself out quite considerably at times.
The love of Logan’s life, Mariko Yashida, is forced back to Japan by her father Shingen, a notorious crime lord. Once in Japan, she is forcibly betrothed to Kurohagi, a cruel criminal associate of her father, to solidify their business interests. Logan is determined to get her back, yet is plunged into a tangled web of corruption and violence at every turn. But with the help of young assassin Yukio, he just might manage to claw his way through the criminal underworld to confront Shingen and save Mariko.
As you can see above, the story is quite simple. In fact, it’s probably even simpler than what you’ve read above. It’s really twelve episodes of Wolverine hacking his way to Mariko. There’s no real big twists or shocks – it’s extremely straightforward and unsurprising. And, because of that, it actually … kind of feels like an old-school Wolverine story. And while it is loosely-based on the classic Wolverine mini-series by Chris Claremont and Frank Miller – that story series has a very loose inspiration for the overall storyline Warren Ellis concocted for anime series – it adds in plenty of new content to stretch out that four-issue comic to 12 episodes. And, boy, does it stretch things out. So. Many. Pointless. Fights.
Now, I don’t mind prolonged fight scenes, especially if they’re executed with a bit of style. And, to be honest, Wolverine does have some style for some of the fight scenes. But we lose that quite quickly as these fights go on far longer than they should.
Wolverine fights Omega Red three times (at least) over the span of three episodes, mixed in a few other gun battles and explosions. By the time Wolverine goes to dispatch Omega Red for the third time, you’re just wishing for a quite end. But you don’t get it. There’s lot of talking (including Omega Red’s awesome broken English). And that is the tip of the iceberg. There is one fight I can think of – the first one Wolverine has with one of Shingen’s assassins, that goes nowhere. They jump around, do some light tussling, before the assassin decides that they’ll just fight another time. It…was weird. But it ate up time, which I assume was the whole point.
One thing I do appreciate about Wolverine is that it’s ridiculously straightforward. There are no surprises at all here. Wolverine says he’s going to do this, and he does. Any opposition is sliced down and he pushes on. Any twists or surprises are nonexistent.
Every episode basically follows the same set-up. Introduce threat, fight, cliffhanger, repeat. It will get tiresome, though honestly it gets to a point where, after investing so much time into the series, it’s worth hanging in there a little while linger.
It also doesn’t help that, outside of Wolverine, all of the characters are pretty one-note, lacking any real character development. Each character introduced has pretty much a single goal in mind, and never wavers (unless they need to give a dramatic death speech). It’s difficult to get invested in the character when they give you so little to work with. The evil characters are pure evil and nothing more – with the exception of perhaps one character (which I won’t spoil) – and the good guys are just as single-minded – with the exception of one character who’s single drive results in questionable behavior). So, out of a cast of roughly ten or so major characters, a fraction of those bring in some flavor. Heck, you could even debate Wolverine’s character development, and if there even is any.
There are some good moments, too. I know I’ve complained a lot, but it’s not all bad. The short appearance by Cyclops is pretty excellent – though completely superfluous – and I’m glad to see that the ending of the series isn’t a tidy, happy one. And boy, the body count is super-high, too. Wolverine really gets to cut loose here and you see it. It starts out bloody, but gets toned down a bit before it gets ratcheted back up for the final stretch.
And, in all honesty, this series does get a lot right. In fact, it basically gets everything right … except for Wolverine. His character is dead on – his words, his methods, all of it – but the character design and choice of voice actor are very suspect and hard to get over. Transforming Wolverine from a short, boxy ugly bruiser to a svelte, lean, pretty boy is jarring. It’s definitely not the Wolverine look we’re used to. It’s a surprising misstep.
Overall, if you’re a fan of Wolverine, give Wolverine a try. It’s stays true to the character and his origins – despite the big misstep with the actual character design – and it’s pretty enjoyable. It does drag from time to time, and the fights can get a shade tedious, but it’s a worthwhile watch. Knowing that Wolverine will make it to the end of the 12th episode does kill the tension some, but seeing him get there is pretty entertaining. Sure, it’s not as good as X-Men, but it does have its positives. Give it a shot. That being said, I wouldn’t recommend this for anything more than a Rental. I can’t see anyone revisiting this show time and time again … unless they happen to be massive Omega Red fans. He gets plenty of love here.
Oh, and a note to everyone, there’s a short after-credits sequence at the end of the final issue that viewers may find worth a chuckle.
Continue to the Wolverine Home Video Release Review
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