Ringing Bell (チリンの鈴 Chirin no Suzu?, lit. Chirin's Bell) is an anime film released in 1978 by Sanrio. In Japan it was originally shown as a double feature alongside the US/Sanrio co-production The Mouse and his Child. The original VHS copy of the english dub is currently out of print (and so far there is no indication that it will be released on DVD), but the full movie as well as a fansub of the japanese version can be seen on YouTube.
A baby lamb named Chirin is devastated when his mother is killed by a wolf who raids the farm in the night. Seeking revenge, he must become like the very thing he wishes to destroy, and he must venture far beyond the safety his home and childhood into the wilderness to seek the fearsome Wolf King.
Ringing Bell starts off as a children's film but quickly merges into a darkly toned story of the laws of nature and revenge. It has also been viewed in the past as a cautionary tale about venturing away from home, nonconformity and revenge.
- Chirin (チリン) - A young lamb with no understanding of life and death. He always wears a bell around his neck.
- Chirin's mother - A sheep who is very loving towards her son Chirin
- Wolf - A huge black wolf with a scar across one eye. The wolf lives in the mountains surrounding the farm and loves to eat young lambs.
- The other sheep - The nameless sheep on the farm are timid creatures who offer Chirin no comfort or support when his mother is killed.
The movie opens with a baby lamb named Chirin living an idyllic life on a farm with many other sheep. Chirin is very adventurous and tends to get lost, so he wears a bell around his neck so that his mother can always find him. His mother warns Chirin that he must never venture beyond the fence surrounding the farm, because a huge black wolf lives in the mountains and loves to eat sheep. Chirin is too young and naive to take the advice to heart, until one night the wolf kills the dogs guarding the flock and enters the barn. The wolf is prepared to kill Chirin, but at the last moment the lamb's mother throws herself in the way and is killed instead.
The wolf leaves, and Chirin is horrified to see his mother's body. Unable to understand why his mother was killed, he becomes very angry and swears that he will go into the mountains and kill the wolf. He leaves alone, and when he finally comes upon the wolf he challenges him to fight. The wolf simply ignores him and walks away, and Chirin follows. This continues for some time, and Chirin realizes that the only way he can fight the wolf is by becoming strong like him. After much begging, the wolf relents and tells Chirin he will train him, knowing that Chirin intends to kill him one day. Chirin's training lasts well into his adulthood, and by this time he has become a vicious killer, and views the wolf as his father. Together they travel the mountains, killing indiscriminately.
One night the wolf takes Chirin to the farm where the lamb was born. Chirin claims not to remember it, saying that his home is on the plains with the wolf. The wolf and ram kill the farm dogs and Chirin enters the barn, where the terrified sheep have gathered, while the wolf waits. Chirin spots a very young lamb that strongly resembles himself, cowering in the middle of the barn, and as he approaches, the lamb's mother throws herself in the way. Struck by this similarity to his past, Chirin is startled and confused, and leaves the barn without killing the sheep. When the wolf demands to know why, Chirin tells him that he can't bring himself to do it.
The wolf walks towards the barn to do the job himself, and Chirin begs him to spare the sheep. When the wolf will not listen, Chirin becomes furious and charges at him. After a brief fight, Chirin impales the wolf on his horns. The wolf expresses his gratitude and pride for Chirin, and dies. Chirin is saddened, but turns to the sheep in the barn, who quickly shut the door. When Chirin tries to tell them that he grew up on the farm, none of the sheep believe him, saying that such a terrifying animal could not be one of them. Chirin gives up and returns to the mountains alone.
As Chirin stands by a pool of water near the wolf's den, he imagines that he sees the wolf's reflection in the water next to his own. Overjoyed, he turns to see the wolf, but realizes he is alone. Chirin stands alone in the mountains, screaming for the wolf, as the snow begins to fall, and as the movie draws to a close the narrator tells us that no one ever saw Chirin again.
- Chirin - Minori Matsushima (lamb), Akira Kamiya (adult)
- Chirin's mother - Taeko Nakanishi
- Wou - Seizō Katō
- Narrator - Hitoshi Takagi
Ringing Bell has received positive reviews from critics. Justin Sevakis of Anime News Network praised the 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."
- "Ringing Bell - "Buried Treasure" review". Anime News Network. Retrieved 2009-03-28.
- Clements, Jonathan; Helen McCarthy (2001-09-01). The Anime Encyclopedia: A Guide to Japanese Animation Since 1917 (1st ed. ed.). Berkeley, California: Stone Bridge Press. ISBN 1-880656-64-7. OCLC 47255331. Cite uses deprecated parameter