|“||Two years have now passed, Chirin has changed from a determined lamb, into a fearsome beast.||„|
|~ The Narrator about Chirin.|
|“||So then, Wolf - I am no longer a weakling sheep. Instead of fangs, I have horns which are just as sharp. My hooves are harder than a rock... and it has become my nature to fight without fear of death.||„|
|~ Chirin to the Wolf.|
|“||You're the wolf who killed my mother!||„|
|~ Chirin before killing the Wolf upon learning the truth.|
|“||I won't lose. I will become stronger than the wolves.||„|
|~ Chirin while training in the original storybook.|
Chirin is the main protagonist of Takashi Yanase's children's book Chirin no Suzu, and its 1978 anime film adaptation Ringing Bell (Chirin no Suzu). Once a carefree young lamb, he lost his innocence after a wolf killed his mother. He then set out to avenge his mother's death by training as the apprentice of the very wolf who killed his only relative. This eventually led to his transformation into a fearsome black-furred ram.
As he and the Wolf set out to hunt some sheep in a meadow, his tragic past began to haunt him when he saw a mother sheep who tried to protect her lamb, resulting in him turning against Wolf King and killing him. Sadly, his former herd rejected Chirin out of fear of the abomination he had become, thus leading to the story being a cautionary tale.
In the Japanese version, he was voiced by Minori Matsushima as a lamb, and Akira Kamiya as an adult. In the English dubbed version, he was voiced by Barbara Goodson as a lamb, and Gregg Berger as an adult.
In both the book and the film, Chirin was a white lamb that lived in a meadow with his mother and many other sheep. There was only one rule in his peaceful existence; never go past the fence, for fear of the Wolf King.
Mother's death and Quest for Vengeance
Chirin's idyllic world would soon be shattered. At night, the Wolf King attacked the barn where the sheep shelter. The wolf charged at Chirin, but his mother sacrificed her life to save him, being savagely bitten to death by the wolf. The wolf retreated as Chirin became apoplectic with grief. Driven by a mad desire for vengeance, Chirin followed the Wolf King.
Becoming the Wolf King's Apprentice and Transformation
When Chirin finally met his mother's killer, at first the wolf showed little regard for him. In a psychological change born of trauma, Chirin tells the wolf that he wishes to become his apprentice, so that one day he may grow stronger than the Wolf King and kill him. Consistent with his Darwinistic philosophy, the wolf accepts. Over the course or his training under the Wolf's tutelage, Chirin's features gradually become monstrous that he eventually developed into a beast-like ram. Atop the rocky mountains, Chirin tells his master that, though he once plotted to kill the wolf, he now has a deep respect and admiration for him. Overtaken by a peculiar form of Stockholm Syndrome, Chirin is now completely loyal to the Wolf King.
Redemption and Exile
Chirin's final test is to return to his birthplace, and help the Wolf King slaughter the sheep, in which he killed the dogs that are guarding the barn. By the time he completed the deed and catch up with the Wolf however, he is reminded to his own past upon the sight of the Wolf threatening a lamb which is protected by his mother.
As a result, Chirin turned against the Wolf and killed him as he promised long ago. Unfortunately, the sheep in his old home rejected him out of fear, in which Chirin learned a shattering truth: His quest for vengeance has turned him into neither wolf nor sheep, but rather an abomination. The saddened Chirin then left his birthplace for good and runs off to the mountains, never to be seen again with everyone forgetting about him.
However, when a huge blizzard hit, rumors say that some remembered Chirin as a lamb, as others say he was a spirit from the mountain, and one can hear a sound of a bell.
When he was young, Chirin was a cute little lamb with a small bell around his neck so that he wouldn't get
lost. As Chirin aged under the Wolf King's tutelage, Chirin grew a pair of horns that end in stumps and never seemed to smile again. As Chirin grew even older he grew into a horrifying, monstrous ram with a muscular body, long sharp horns, and glowing yellow eyes. While he kept the bell around his neck, the ringing of the bell now terrified those who heard it.
While he was young, Chirin was a happy lamb who often played and ran. He often got lost which was why a bell was placed around his neck. Whenever he got lost, his mother would be able to hear him playing and come find him.
After the death of his mother at the paws of the Wolf King, Chirin became hopeless. The sheep around him didn't comfort him or do anything to help his mother. They just ran and cowered as his mother was killed. Because of this, Chirin sought out to become a wolf. Chirin became determined to get stronger. He followed the wolf wherever he went. He would do anything to prove he could become a wolf. At this point, Chirin still saw value in life. However, after failing to save a bird and her eggs, he's taught an invaluable lesson from the Wolf King.
|“||In order for some to live, others must die. That is the law of nature.||„|
|~ The Wolf King|
After teaching him this, the wolf took Chirin under his care. The Wolf King raised Chirin to be a fearsome beast. Killing those who get in his way without any sense of remorse. Though the Wolf King was the reason for the death of his mother, Chirin still thought of the Wolf King as something of a father.
Powers and Abilities
Chirin's training and life with the Wolf has shaped him into a fearsome beast of combat, his prowess likely surpassing even that of his carnivorous mentor. Even relatively early on in his training, Chirin is already shown to be capable to headbutt his way through a thick tree and to take on opponents many time his own size and strength, such as bears and panthers.
As an adult, Chirin is strong enough to effortlessly shatter boulders with his horns and describes his hooves as also being "harder than rock". A fearsome fighter, Chirin able to take on an entire pack of fierce guard dogs with no assistance from the Wolf and handily slaughter them all, with handily enough strength left by the end of it to kill the Wolf himself. He presumably has exceptional endurance from the harsh training the Wolf King had subjected him to, and amazing stamina from that same training and his participation in the Wolf King's hunts.
- Chirin's story in the film represented a radical yet tragic subversion of anthropomorphic animal protagonists whose adventures and character development kickstarted by tragic loss of parental figures at a very young age — instead of finally being able to lead the fulfilling lives like Simba, Bambi, and Littlefoot, Chirin grew into something sinister as result of being consumed by revenge.
- A similar case can be found in Anakin Skywalker of the Star Wars universe, as the two were driven to evil by the loss of their mothers.
- Chirin could have been identified from the bell he still wore around his neck, as stated in the Japanese translation.
- However it is possible that the sheep were too terrified to get a closer look or care.
- During Chirin's training with the Wolf, in the Japanese version, it is stated that he had been trained for three years. However, it was changed to two years in the English version.