Bell of Chirin / Chirin no Suzu

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“Chirin no Suzu” (Chirin’s Bell), is a 50-minute movie from 1978. It was dubbed and released in America as “Ringing Bell” by RCA/Columbia Home Video in 1984.

There once was a kind, sweet, gentle young lamb named Chirin. While his mother watched, he would frolic in the fields and play with flowers and butterflies. Then, one day a wolf entered the pasture. As the other sheep cowered behind barn stalls, Chirin’s mother was killed when she interposed herself between the wolf and her scared, perplexed child. As Chirin cried and pleaded for his dead mother, he came to a realization: The World is Harsh and Unfair. The weak exist to be killed by the strong, and they do nothing to stop it. The wolf comes, and the sheep die.

“I don’t want to be killed! I want to be strong!”

Dissatisfied with his station in life as being nothing more than a future meal for some predator, Chirin leaves his birthplace and searches out the wolf to learn how to be strong. Going against the natural order, the wolf takes Chirin in and teaches him his trade: The Way of the Hunter.

“In order for some to live others must die, that is the law of nature. From the moment of birth life is one endless struggle and only the strong can survive … Life deals out few things besides pain, but from that pain you will grow sharp, strong fangs.”

Chirin learns, works hard, and earns his “fangs”. The wolf becomes a father to him, as Chirin thrives in a world of carnage, living only to hunt, and fight stronger opponents. After seeing his protégé mature, the wolf decides to bring his student back to his farm birthplace, to slaughter his kin. When faced with this final challenge, Chirin can’t bring himself to kill the meek sheep. To save them, he instead attacks and kills his surrogate dad.

“I always knew it would be like this. That I would die in some field at the hands of someone stronger … but I’m glad that the one who did it was you, Chirin.”

As the weather’s stormy rainfall turns to a blanket of snow to cover-up and erase the battlefield, Chirin is rejected and shunned by those he protected. Both he and the memory of him disappear from existence as he wanders the mountain home he once shared with his teacher.

Through your sojourn in the world,
Know your station in life.
Know it well, you in the world,
Know it well.

--Moritake Arakida, Yo no Naka Hyakushu (One Hundred Poems of the World)

Brought to you by Sanrio (the company that gave us “Hello Kitty”), complete with fluid animation, cute, cuddly characters, and up-tempo musical numbers, “Ringing Bell” is a powerful, nightmarish Confucian Hell… for the whole family. Remember kids: Know Your Place.

 Chirin no Suzu 01

 Chirin no Suzu 02

 Chirin no Suzu 03

 Chirin no Suzu 04
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Curator: guyvariii
Gallery Created: 1/21/2004

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