|“||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 that the rock... and it has become my nature to fight without fear of death.||„|
|~ Chirin to the Wolf.|
Chirin is the protagonist villain 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 lamb.
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 him turned against Wolf King and killing him. Sadly, his former herd rejected Chirin out of fear to the very abomination he had become, thus leading to 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 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
Chrin'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 Chrin became apoplectic with grief. Driven by a mad desire for vengeance, Chrin followed the Wolf King.
Becoming the Wolf King's Apprentice and Transformation
When Chrin finally met his mother's killer, at first the wolf showed little regard for him. In a psychological change born of trauma, Chrin 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, Chrin 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, Chrin 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 sheeps 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 forgets about him.
However, when a huge blizzard hit, one could hear the faint sound of Chirin's ringing bell, hinting that he is still alive somewhere.
When he was young, Chirin was used to be a cute-looking lamb with small horns that ends in small stumps. As he grows under Wolf King's tutelage however, Chirin grows into a horrifying, monstrous lamb with muscular body, long sharp horns, and glowing yellow eyes.
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 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.