Ringing Bell (チリンの鈴, Chirin no Suzu, lit. Chirin's Bell) is a 1978 Japanese anime adventure-drama film adaptation of the storybook of the same name written by Takashi Yanase, the creator of Anpanman.[1] It is most notable by fans and critics as a family film which makes a sharp, sudden turn into a dark and violent story that criticizes and reflects upon the theme of revenge and war. It is also recognized as one of the only Japanese shock films directed towards children and families.[2]

Ringing Bell
Poster of the film
(Chirin no Suzu)
GenreDrama, dark fantasy, adventure
Written byTakashi Yanase
Published byFroebel-Kan
Anime film
Directed byMasami Hata
Produced byShintaro Tsuji
Tsunemasa Hatano
Licensed by
ReleasedMarch 11, 1978 (Japan)
April 8, 1983 (US)
Runtime47 minutes

Ringing Bell was produced by Sanrio and originally shown as a double feature alongside the US/Sanrio co-production The Mouse and his Child.[3] It is Sanrio's first anime film to have a dark plot, only two films they co-produced with Sunrise, The Ideon: A Contact and The Ideon: Be Invoked – both of which serve as the conclusion to Yoshiyuki Tomino's Space Runaway Ideon, follow suit. Like the above-mentioned Ideon films, it is among Sanrio's first works to be aimed at young adult audience members in and outside Japan.

Synopsis Edit

A young lamb named Chirin lives a carefree life with his flock on a farm. He is adventurous and prone to getting lost, so he wears a bell around his neck so his mother can always find him. She warns him he must never venture beyond the farm's fence, or else he might be killed by the wolf that lives in the nearby mountains. Soon after, the wolf sneaks into the barn at night and attacks the sheep. Chirin's mother dies protecting him.

Seeking revenge, Chirin leaves the farm and pursues the wolf up the mountain. However, he quickly realizes he cannot fight him, and instead asks the wolf to train him to become strong. The wolf agrees, despite knowing Chirin intends to kill him one day. Over the course of this training, Chirin grows into a powerful, sure-footed, and fearless ram, with deadly horns.

Three years later, Chirin has transformed into a ruthless killer and thrown away his quest for vengeance, having come to view his mentor as a father figure. The wolf takes him down to the farm to kill the sheep, but, reminded of his mother, Chirin refuses. The two fight, and Chirin fatally wounds the wolf with his horns. Despite his mortal injury, the wolf happily confesses to Chirin that he is proud of his student's maturation, declaring that Chirin, like himself, is now a lone wolf.

Despite saving them, Chirin is rejected by his terrified flock and is forced to return to the mountains, now alone. After hallucinating the wolf's return, Chirin laments that he has nowhere left to go, and no one else to love, crying out in sorrow for the wolf to come back. Chirin is never seen again, but the faint ringing of his bell can still be heard on stormy nights, much like the howls of the lone wolves before him.[4]

Characters Edit

  • Chirin (チリン) - A young, cheerful and innocent lamb who has no understanding of life and death. He always wears a bell around his neck. As a result of his quest to kill the wolf, he grows into an antelope-like ram with grey wool and long horns, but is rejected by his friends as a result of his monstrous appearance.
  • Chirin's mother - A ewe who is very loving towards her son Chirin. Her death at the paws of the Wolf sets the plot in motion.
  • Wolf (ウォー Woe in the Japanese version) - An aging black wolf with a scar across one eye. The wolf lives in the mountains surrounding the farm and kills and eats his prey based on the belief that he must continue the cycle of nature.
  • The other sheep - The nameless sheep on the farm are timid creatures who offer Chirin no comfort or support when his mother is killed. When Chirin returns as an adult, the flock immediately rejects him, horrified at what he has become (the English version has them not remembering who he is and are convinced that no beast like him could have lived with them).

Voice cast Edit

Character Japanese voice actor English dubbing actor
Chirin Minori Matsushima (lamb)
Akira Kamiya (ram)
Barbara Goodson (lamb)
Gregg Berger (ram)
Wolf Seizō Katō as Woe Bill Capizzi as The Wolf King
Chirin's Mother Taeko Nakanishi Alexandra Kenworthy
Narrator Hitoshi Takagi Ron Gans

Reception Edit

Though the film is not as well-known outside Japan, Western critics such as Justin Sevakis of Anime News Network praised the dark storyline and artwork, and noted that it delivered a "sort of quick punch-to-the-face of the innocent." Sevakis also commented that "there is almost nothing uplifting about Ringing Bell and yet it maintains its sense of adorable while simultaneously destroying our concepts of the beauty of nature."[5]

References Edit

  1. ^ Remembering Ringing Bell: Half of Sanrio's Second-Darkest Double Feature Otaku USA Magazine
  2. ^ "Anime Bargain Bin Reviews | Ringing Bell aka Chirin no Suzu or Chirin's Bell".
  3. ^ "Ringing Bell" (1978) and "One Stormy Night" (2005) Cartoon Research
  4. ^ 10 Dark and Disturbing Animated Films That Are Worth Your Time Taste of Cinema. 15 August 2014. Retrieved May 28, 2022
  5. ^ "Ringing Bell - "Buried Treasure" review". Anime News Network. Retrieved 2009-03-28.

Further reading Edit

External links Edit