Japanese comics artist Mamoru Oshii won a rare degree of praise in America for his chilly, labyrinthine cinematic experiment Ghost In The Shell, a movie that simultaneously explored the limits of 1995 animation technology and the limits of film's ability to meaningfully adapt a lengthy, sophisticated book. Oshii protégé Hiroyuki Okiura hits many of the same chords in directing Jin-Roh: The Wolf Brigade, a chilly, labyrinthine, Oshii-scripted meditation on humanity and brutality. The film takes place in an alternate-future Japan, where a Nazi occupation and withdrawal, followed by years of internal violence, left the country with an elite, fascistic police force and a terrorist resistance organization. The two groups frequently meet with explosive, bloody force, though apparently not quite bloody enough for some, as Constable Kazuki Fuse (animation voiceover veteran Michael Dobson) discovers when he fails to shoot a terrified young girl delivering a bomb for the terrorists. As his superiors come to doubt him, and plot to use him to uncover and eradicate The Wolf Brigade, a rumored renegade cabal within the Capital Police, Fuse seeks out and clings to the girl's sister as if looking for an antidote to the violence in his life. It takes some effort to follow the film's twisted story logic, which is heavily couched in visual metaphor stemming from the dark symbolism of an early version of Little Red Riding Hood. It takes further effort to push through the film's detached talkiness and deliberate reserve. Like Ghost In The Shell, Jin-Roh centers on opaque characters who mostly hide their feelings behind bland, mask-like visages and prolonged silences; unlike Shell, it fails to compensate with flashy, experimental visual effects. Jin-Roh has an admirably elaborate, American Pop-like animation style, which mixes highly realistic painted backgrounds with only slightly less realistic, though significantly simpler, human characters. The effect is striking and believable, though in so thoroughly embracing visual realism, Okiura begs the question of why he chose animation as a medium. At least human actors might have been easier to read, more capable of provoking empathy. As it is, Jin-Roh can only evoke a passionless, intellectual engagement—at least up until its riveting ending, which, for all its foreshadowing, seems to belong to a far more emotionally adept film.