I watched the Wolf Children movie on Thursday, March 14th and ended up enjoying it highly. Held off on the review a bit because of how much it ended up pulling on my heart strings, and how beautiful of a movie it was. The movie in short is about a mother in Japan struggling to raise two wolf-children into society while following Japanese social rules, or not.
– Spoiler Warning: Article obviously contains spoilers, view at your own discretion.
(All images taken from the Wolf Children Movie using Fraps with WMP.)
As to not ruin what the story is about, I shall simply copy and paste the synopsis.
The theme of the film is the love between parents and children. The story covers 13 years and begins with a 19-year-old college student named Hana who encounters and falls in “fairy tale-like” love with a “wolf man.” After marrying the wolf man, Hana gives birth and raises two wolf childrenâ€”an older sister named Yuki who was born on a snowy day, and a younger brother named Ame who was born on a rainy day. The four quietly lived in a corner of a city to conceal the existence of the “wolf children,” but when the wolf man suddenly dies, Hana decides to move to a rural town far removed from the city.
(Apologies if YouTube pulls the trailer.)
Just by chance, a normal girl being well informed of children’s numerous fairy tails happens to come across a mostly out of place individual, her eventual boyfriend and husband. By simply being kind and herself, she assists “Ookami” with school related task. Goes without saying they pair up romantically, bringing two highly mischievous wolf children into the world – Ame and Yuki.
There are numerous topics being hit openly, secretly, subtly, vaguely, while even asking the viewer how one would raise “unique” children. How does one live with a wolf entity, let alone wolf children? How do you raise them? Where do you raise them? What kind of freedoms does a wolf children even have? How would you go about even telling people you have animal-human hybrid offspring? Those are the main, yet few of the questions once can answer as they watch, or can answer afterwards.
I will quickly note that seeing Ookami being disposed of was quite awkwardly saddening. Even more so for our poor Hana being now mostly forced to raise two children. Imagine those faces as you explain that wolf was your husband, while even more devastating seeing your husband being crushed right in front of you. No proper cremation allowed. Now she has to raise two overly energetic children, learning new ways to sleep.
While watching this movie one thing was made quite clear – Hana is one brutally tough girl. No matter how much her emotions are crushed, what challenges she had to face, nor how hard she had to work she never gave up. There were no signs of her ever giving up, nor suicide. She pushed on forward, if a bit dazed and confused, just wanting the best for her children. Everything she did was for her children and her husband, to raise them the best she could. All those wounds and cuts were her temporary trophy of how much she loved her children. All her knowledge came directly from books, and only books. She couldn’t rely on anybody but knowledge within books.
Because she ended up raising her two mischievous Wolf Children she would often be found avoiding other mothers with children in parks. She feared they would find out about their attention-bringing wolf traits.
Seeing the child services harass her to see if her children worried me that things may turn for the worse; more tragic. Being caught up in red-tape and all those brutal things. The neighbors didn’t help either, probably due to work stress and unwilling to assist.
A choice had to now be made – Suffer by raising your children in the city or give your children freedom out in an equally tough environment outside the city? Give them the choice between being human or a wolf. The choice is theirs.
Hana felt the need to give her children an appropriate environment to best raise them, to possibly get closer to Ookami’s past, as well as giving her children the best choices in life. They can choose the way they want to live, not by fearing society constantly pestering them in return.
Their new start in life won’t be easy. They have to adjust to the isolation of the country-side, fix the abandoned home, farm their own food, as well as long-term transportation issues. Remember what I said about Hana being a tough girl? It shows both in the prologue and in the main part of the movie with her having to do almost everything herself. Almost. She does get assistance from her country-side neighbors.
Seeing both Ame and Yuki playing happily in their own way without fearing other people judging them is always a plus. Seeing a child happy is what everybody should strive for. Should be an unspoken necessary rule, if anything.
With the amount of stress Hana had to endure I’m surprised they didn’t pull a “Clannad” by giving her heat-stroke, a cold, or simply sending her into a hospital for being over-worked. Regardless, I respect her all the same, if not more so for how much she had to endure.
– Animation & Quality:
Both the animation and quality of the art is insanely good, seeing as it is a movie and all. nearly on par with “The Princess And The Pilot“. There are loads of moments where you are staring at the scenery, almost mistaking it for an actual scenery somewhere in Japan. Everything looks so beautiful. So much care has been placed into every single scene that you can easily lose yourself by staring at the scenery instead of the characters. Not saying that is a bad thing, it is a good kind of distraction that works well in between and during character interacted scenes.
Tokyo’s city-scape to the quiet wilderness, everything has been painstakingly been looked at. Even when it rains or snows, it all simply looks beautiful. Similar to The Princess and The Pilot and 5 cm per Second, this movie can be grouped up with those movies by their detailing in art. Though, there are times when character animation themselves seem to fade.
Seeing the art style I’m going to assume that was intentional to give that unique feel that it has. All those “strangers” in the back with no faces. The neighbors and those numerous side characters however gaining detailing and faces. The lacking in face detailing leaning more towards Tokyo University (or College in trailer) students and the mothers with child in Tokyo. Not really all that important to pick at or be fussy about.
The character animations are also respected on my side, if at times noticing computer animated movements. The slightly stiff movements as they walk to and from Tokyo University/College. Basically anything that requires multiple individuals moving at ones things become noticeable for picky people to poke at.
The weather quality was actually quite surprising. You could tell if it was actually snowing, raining, or even being interacted with by Yuki and Ame. What I mean by actually seeing it snowing and raining actually means me saying the art is close to being near realistic or even photo-realistic at times. You can see almost every particle or detailing that you wouldn’t normally see in long-running Anime series. A given seeing as how it is a move, correct? Thought so.
Hana laughed! She laughed! Thanks to our helpful yet somewhat curious “wise fox” Hana ended up laughing! Laughing is the best medicine for anything.
Socializing is important, something Hana didn’t foresee as she intended to keep away from society in fear of discovering their secret. It helped out our overly stressed Hana greatly, releasing all that weight off hers while placing it partly on others. At the request of our “wise fox” Hana is grateful of his constant tsundere (had to add that) like assistance. As grumpy as he was, he was helpful allowing others to assist her in return. They ended up helping one another.
By far one of the best scene in the whole movie. Not saying others were poor, just saying the part with the trio running through the forest then onto a hill of a mountain was so energizing as they howled in absolute joy. They let loose allowing their hidden feelings to gradually funnel to the top during that happy outing as a family. Sadly, it did nearly end in tragedy as Ame tried to hunt a Kingfletcher at a running stream of water, nearly drowning in the process.
The future they choose now became clear to both Ame and Yuki, even though I didn’t fully notice it during the first watch. Ame and Yuki did a switch in personality – Yuki from a wolf to a human, while Ame went from a human to a wolf. Both equally experiencing life as both a wolf and a human.
New challenges pop up as Yuki demands to go to school, paralyzed by fears of being a wolf and as a new student. Twice the amount of worries to deal with. Seeing Yuki adapt to school life and how to fit in was actually quite interesting. Quite entertaining and very amusing. Also approve of the way that light-romance was added. It doesn’t get corny, just stays within that proper territory of interest within one another.
Simply beautiful. From the moment you start the movie to the moment when things start picking up you shall notice the beauty within the music and soundtrack. It’s quiet, it is beautiful, while also being mostly instrumental. Everything about is happy, sad, memorable as well as even tear spawning beauty. The piano and the singing brings out the best in both the movie and the soundtrack.
Listening to the music itself does just a good job as the movie itself in spawning tears. For example – imagine cutting an onion, now replace “cutting” with “watching” and “onion” with “wolf Children”. Same effect, though some more immune to such than others.
One final hurdle appearing as both Ame and Yuki’s path cross, blocking the path to their desired future. Their past merging before taking their chosen path as a heavy storm pounds their region. Hana sadly being caught up in cross-fire as her child grow to live a life of their choosing.
There were so many big and little things to keep that a rewatch is necessary. Some of the things me and others noticed:
– The old man (Nirasaki) farmer might be the Wise Fox that trains Ame as a Wolf.
– The abandoned house may be Ookami’s old home.
– If Ame didn’t try hunting the KingFletcher he might of chosen the “human” path with Yuki.
– The “three presents, three octopus” is a possible reference to Ame, Yuki, and Hana.
– Noticed Ame looked a bit like Ookami towards the end with the clothing, before the whole storm portion.
Among others. There are lots to catch.
A beautiful ending seeing with Hana seeing her kids choose their – Human or wolf – path in life. Both happy yet saddening.
– Final Thoughts:
This Anime is so brilliant that it constantly provoked me to shed tears. It keeps wanting to break that dam in my eyes to shed tears, and I almost did numerous time. Even writing this review and listening to the music I nearly bursted out in tears. Yes, it is that good! And yes, it is that emotional….in a similar to way to Clannad, Kanon, and 5 cm per second. All those heartwarming moments along with those life-struggles they had to go through.
Seeing Hana fall in love with a wolf, being an unofficial wife, and a parent to her kids was just the most beautiful thing I could see in the way it was directed. It was however saddening seeing her face constant hardship after hardship. Coming across people that would worsen the situation instead of mending it. Even that one tragic moment seeing her loved one being compacted like trash in a garbage truck. All those constant stress-causing situations and how she had to avoid people because of her children being wolf-like in appearance. Hana is one tough girl that I have to give my highest respect for. She never faltered, only paused to rest. No stepping back, only forward to a brighter hard-earned future.
Seeing Yuki and Ame struggled with twice as much in life brought out an interesting twist to the story. They had to face reality with their wolf and human side, choosing which one to live with in life. Seeing Ame being picked on at school while Yuki struggled, yet somehow adapted to her school surroundings.
The most favorite part of the movie of mine? The snow-howling on the mountain along with Yuki confessing her secret to a transfer student as the curtains flapped in the stormy breeze. It was all great.
The story goes without saying on how good it was. It was simple, yet complex at the same time. It flowed nicely and it hit all the right notes for me to enjoy it. The music is peaceful in both a happy, yet saddened manner with both the piano and singing. The animation is also high-quality. The scenery is quite beautiful to stare at and the characters are interestingly animated. Sometimes silly when smiling yet acceptable for the art style given.
One thing that did bother me was the wolf forms being done a bit in a “generic” way. It was done in a cute kiddy way, but I guess that was done for audience range? Ame and Yuki come off as weird fluffy wolf-plushies at times. Even when Ame turned adult-wolf at the end. Awkward but acceptable, I guess.
Recommended watch! I’ll have to recommend this with the full respect I can give it. Go watch it! You won’t regret it, not unless you’re the overly picking or insulting person? Your choice, but I do recommend this as a must watch!
If I had an official stamp I would give this movie my “Fox Stamp of Approval“.
Thanks for viewing and hope you enjoyed the movie as much as I did.