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File:Chirin no suzu 2758.jpg

Sure, it starts out this way, until....

Chirin no Suzu (チリンの鈴 - Literally translated as 'Chirin's Bell'), released out of Japan as Ringing Bell (an alternate translation of the Japanese title; see Meaningful Name below), is an anime film about an adorable little lamb named Chirin, who wears a bell around his neck. He is warned by his mother not to stray past the fence around the farm that the sheep live on, for the Wolf King lives in the nearby mountains and will surely eat him. Chirin does as he's told, and lives in happiness.

Until one day, the farm is attacked by the fearsome Wolf, and Chirin's mother is killed trying to protect him. Confused and angered by this, Chirin runs off to find the Wolf. At first he plans to kill the wolf, but finds that he's far too weak. Instead, he becomes the Wolf's apprentice, no longer wanting to be a weak sheep, but instead wanting to become a strong wolf like him.

Things sort of go downhill from there. If you're looking for a sheep-and-wolf anime with a happy ending, try Arashi no Yoru ni. For something of a similar theme and tone, see Watership Down and The Plague Dogs.

For those of you who want to see the Japanese version (with English subtitles), here is Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, and Part 5.

Tropes used in Chirin no Suzu include:
  • All of the Other Reindeer: The end.
  • A Wolf Named Wolf
  • Badass Grandpa: Wolf. The English version makes no hint of this. However, Chirin's mother in the Japanese version refers to Wolf as "an old wolf". Combine that with the scenes that show Wolf in action and you get this trope.
  • Big Bad: Wolf.
  • Big Badass Wolf
  • Big No: Chirin's mom gets one in the English version. The Japanese version averts this by having her simply yell out "Chirin!" and jump to protect him.
  • Bloodless Carnage: The wolf was clearly trying to eat Chirin and his mother was killed when she threw herself in front of him. Yet there are no marks on her body. Nevertheless, the death still manages to be quite graphic and depressing.
  • Blood Knight: The Wolf. He doesn't consume his kills, and in the end, when he is killed, he remarks that the greatest thing to happen to a wolf is to die in battle.
  • Book Ends: It both starts and ends with snow.
  • Break the Cutie
  • Chekhov's Gun: The bell Chirin wears around his neck proves to be significant. It is stated early on that he wears it because his adventuring causes him to get lost, and his mother needs to hear the bell ring to find him. This precise situation happens early on. At the end of the film, he still wears the bell around his neck. That bell is the only thing that allows the sheep to identify him, but they reject him because they cannot believe that someone they knew turned into a ferocious beast. When he vanishes (and presumably dies and becomes a ghost), everyone can hear his bell ring from the mountains. The song at the beginning of the Japanese version of the film pretty much reveals that the ringing bell is a symbol and a reminder of tragedy. That bell ends up serving the purpose of reminding everyone of the tragedy of Chirin.
  • Chibi: Chirin, at least before he becomes an adult.
  • Covers Always Lie: Subverted with both the Japanese (pictured) and U.S. home video covers. The movie does start out this way at first, but then, well...
  • Crapsack World/Crapsaccharine World: This movie can destroy in just 47 minutes whatever illusions you may have held about the gentleness and purity of nature.
  • Curb Stomp Battle: Chirin's fight with Wolf ends up as this. Chirin killed Wolf so easily that there is clearly no sense of triumph to be had. Well, that may have been the point, since the film shows why revenge is a bad idea.
    • And earlier on, the inverse happened, with the Wolf effortlessly (as in he didn't lift a finger and was asleep) defeating Chirin. It was kind of obvious, since Chirin was just a little lamb.
    • When Chirin tries to become a wolf, the animals just simply swat him away. The bison simply blew on him, the skunk sprayed its chemicals onto him, and some weasels roll him up into a dirt ball and roll him around.
  • Disappeared Dad: Chirin's father is not seen or mentioned anywhere in the film. As a matter of fact, the entire flock of sheep has no rams in it at all.
  • Do Not Do This Cool Thing: The film presents the moral that revenge is totally not cool. The film essentially goes out of its way to avert this trope. How well did it work? Well, take a look at the Misaimed Fandom entry in the Your Mileage May Vary section.
  • Downer Ending
  • Dying Like Animals: Chirin doesn't want to be like the other sheep. It's understandable for Chirin to feel that way, since the sheep know about Wolf's existence and yet do nothing about it.
  • Face Heel Turn: Chirin does this, and it comes back to haunt him later.
  • Failure Hero:
    • To put it bluntly, every time Chirin tries to be a hero, he fails...horribly. He tries taking on Wolf as a lamb, and every time he is easily beaten in a Curb Stomp Battle. One of those times, he managed to successfully headbutt right through a thick tree, and he tried the same trick on Wolf...which did not work. Oh, and he is trying to kill Wolf out of revenge, which is not exactly heroic to begin with.
    • Chirin tries to take on a herd of buffalo (or bison), a skunk, and a group of gophers. He fails...epically.
    • Chirin witnesses a snake bite and kill a mother bird that was trying to protect her eggs. Chirin then jumps to defend the eggs from the snake. He manages to fend off the snake by biting and pulling at it. Then he discovers that he accidently knocked over the bird's nest and smashed all of her eggs. He breaks down into hysterical weeping over this.
    • With Wolf's training, Chirin becomes strong enough to take on mountain lions, bears and rocks. He and Wolf end up tearing down everything in their path. At the farm, Chirin kills off all the dogs protecting the herd. Clearly he had to become a villian to be a success. Chirin does not kill the sheep. He was going to, but when he saw a mother sheep protecting her lamb, it made him realize how much of a monster he had become.
    • Finally, Chirin kills Wolf. Wolf is not upset by this, and in fact says that he is proud of Chirin. The sheep do not thank Chirin for this, but instead cast him out. There is absolutely no sense of victory here.
    • Chirin is the epitome of a Failure Hero. He either fails at what he sets out to do, or he succeeds and is left with no sense of victory.
  • Family-Unfriendly Violence: Bloodless Carnage notwithstanding
  • Friend to All Living Things: Chirin is this in the first half, then later averts this trope in the second half.
  • From Nobody to Nightmare: Chirin. It is scary how a cute little lamb can actually transform into a demonic-looking ram.
  • Deadly Change-of-Heart: Used literally and figuratively with Chirin. This is one of the reasons the film is so tragic.
  • Heel Realization: When Chirin prepares to kill the sheep and sees a mother sheep jump to protect her lamb...the look on his face screams this trope.
  • He Who Fights Monsters: Chirin.
  • Humans Are the Real Monsters: Wolf said "In order for some to live, others must die." He is basically referring to this trope. Sure, no humans appear in this story, but considering how the characters in this story are like humans...well, you get the idea.
  • It's All About Me: Chirin pretty much adopts this attitude in the second half of the film. He did try to save a bird's nest of eggs from a snake, which shows that he is/was capable of caring about others. This attitude is justified at first because he starts out as a child. When he grows up...not so much.
  • If You're So Evil Eat This Kitten: Wolf tests Chirin with killing all the sheep in his former home. Chirin was going to do it, but at the critical moment decides he cannot do it.
  • It Got Worse
  • Knight of Cerebus: Wolf.
  • Lack of Empathy: Chirin does start out with empathy. In fact, he glances at several groups of animals composed of mothers and their children as he travels around. This reminds him of what he has lost (his mother). However, after the incident involving a snake and a bird's nest of eggs, he decides to embrace this trope. He does regain at least some empathy by the end of the film, but by then it is too late. This is one of the reasons this story is a tragedy.
  • Loners Are Freaks: Wolf, because he is a lone wolf. Chirin becomes a loner and a freak, which leads to tragedy.
  • Mature Animal Story[context?]
  • Meaningful Name: Chirin is based off of the Japanese adverb ちりんちりん (chirinchirin), which means jingle; ding (sound representing the ringing of small bells), thus "Chirin no Suzu" can also be translated as "Ringing Bell" (which was used as the title for the English version).
  • Minimalism / Minimalist Cast: There are only two named characters in the entire story.
  • Missing Mom: Interesting to note that this is one of the few films that show exactly how Mommy goes missing.
  • Mood Whiplash: The tone shift between the first and second halves of the movie is so jarring that, viewing them independently, nobody would blame you for thinking they were two different films. The movie goes from a cute story about a baby lamb and its mother to a profoundly dark revenge saga with Nietzschian overtones.
  • Moral Myopia: Let us face it, this trope applies to just about everyone. The sheep only care about eating, growing fat, and staying within the boundaries of the farm. Chirin's mother is probably the only character to have any sense of morality, and she died for protecting her son. The other sheep cannot take care of Chirin or even try to comfort him after such a horrific loss. Wolf will hunt and kill whoever and whatever he pleases - in fact, he never shows regret or remorse for killing Chirin's mother (let alone even mentioning it). Although he does say about the law of life dictating that some must die so that some might live, which indicates that he kills not out of pleasure, but because he feels that it has to be done. Chirin starts out with the morals - or lack thereof - of the sheep, before he ends up taking on the morality of the Wolf. Justified at first because he is a child, and children need to adopt a moral code first. However, once he grows up, he hunts and kills other animals without regret or remorse and he would have killed his fellow sheep too. However, he remembers his childhood and turns on Wolf because "I was one of them!" and Wolf was going to kill the sheep. The sheep reject Chirin because their "morality" does not allow predators to live with them.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: The most obvious example is when Chirin tries to defend a bird's nest from a snake, only to smash all her eggs by accident. When Chirin kills Wolf at the end, afterwards Chirin feels that he invoked this trope.
    • Before that, it's stated by Chirin's mother that Chirin is not allowed to go beyond the fence because the wolf will kill him if he did. Since Chirin tends to go past the fence every time (hence the bell around his neck), it allowed the wolf to know where he lives.
  • Non-Standard Character Design: Adult Chirin looks very different from all the other sheep. It's Justified because of how he lived.
  • Parental Substitute: Wolf becomes this for Chirin. Probably because of Stockholm Syndrome.
  • Please Wake Up: Chirin has this reaction when he finds his mother dead.
  • Protagonist-Centered Morality: The story seems to play this straight. This is especially jarring when Chirin actually becomes friends with Wolf despite the fact that Wolf killed Chirin's mother. In fact, it becomes very clear that Chirin will side with whoever he wants and he thinks that he is right and everyone else is wrong. However, the ending subverts this trope.
  • Protagonist Journey to Villain: This is just what happens to Chirin.
  • Reptiles Are Abhorrent
  • Revenge: This is what drives the plot in the second half of the film. The other tropes should explain what results from this.
  • Say My Name: After Chirin kills the wolf, he stands in the mountains yelling "WOOOLF!"
  • Shoot the Shaggy Dog: Chirin achieves his revenge against Wolf, but he loses everything that ever mattered to him. Life on the sheep farm mostly continues normally, as though Chirin and Wolf had never existed, but not entirely. The credits indicate that every now and then the sheep hear Chirin's bell ring from the mountains. The sheep are unable to forget about Chirin's existence, even if they wanted to.
  • Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism: The entirety of the movie goes on both extreme ends of scale.
  • Snow Means Death: It's implied that this is how things end up for Chirin.
  • Spell My Name with an "S": In the English version, the wolf is called the Wolf King or just Wolf. In the Japanese version, the wolf is called ウォー (Uoo or Woo). The name is given the spelling Wor, but it could be spelled out as War.
  • Stockholm Syndrome: More properly defined as Identification with the Aggressor, as Chirin decides to become like the wolf so that he won't have to be a victim anymore and then starts to view him as a father. In fact, the film brutally deconstructs Identification with the Aggressor by showing Chirin becoming just like Wolf, if not worse. Oh, and he loses everything because of it, among other things.
  • Sugar Apocalypse
  • The Dragon: Chirin grows up to become this to the Wolf.
  • They Plotted a Perfectly Good Waste: One of the reasons this story is a tragedy is because Chirin had so much potential and wasted it utterly and completely. Characters from The Lion King, Bambi, and The Land Before Time suffered similar losses and managed to lead fulfilling lives. Chirin did not. He could have stayed on the farm, and have grown up to be its protector. He could have found a way to make the sheep realize that their lives were pathetic, sad and empty. He could have become their leader. None of these things happened, which was exactly what was intended.
  • Title Drop: The title Chirin no Suzu is mentioned within three lines of the first song in the Japanese version.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Chirin goes from a weak little lamb to a huge ram with deadly horns.
  • Training from Hell
  • Training Montage
  • Tragic Monster: Chirin becomes this.
  • Ungrateful Bastard: The sheep at the end of the film. Chirin kills Wolf right in front of them, and do they at least thank him for that? No. They simply boot him out and want him gone. Admittedly, Chirin did kill the dogs right in front of them, and was going to kill them too. Anybody in their position would have little reason to trust him or have anything to do with him.
  • Used to Be a Sweet Little Lamb: Used to chilling effect in this film. In the English version, the sheep reject Chirin because they apparently do not remember him and they are convinced that no fearsome beast like him could have come from their farm. In the Japanese version, the sheep reject Chirin because they recognized the bell he still wore around his neck and they could not reconcile the fact that the lamb they used to play with had grown up to become such a fearsome beast, which makes no difference either way, as it still conveys the same message.
  • Villainous Breakdown: Chirin arguably has this by the end of the film.
  • Villain Protagonist: Chirin turns into this later on.
  • Was It Really Worth It?
  • What Could Have Been: The original Japanese script somehow manages to go even Darker and Edgier than it already is. The wolf kills the entire flock of sheep, not just Chirin's mother, leaving him with a horrible case of survivor's guilt and questioning why he is still alive. Also, Chirin doesn't tell the wolf that he's out for revenge (so the audience don't know either) until they go to attack the sheep again and Chirin surprise kills him, leaving Wolf to utter the same words as Chirin did as a lamb. Then Chirin regrets his revenge and is left alone.
  • Xenofiction
  • You Can't Go Home Again: This is one of the reasons this story is a tragedy.