“Even if everyone hates the wolf, I’ll take the wolf’s side.”
Wolf Children Ōkami Kodomo no Ame to Yuki, follows Hana, a college student who falls in love with an enigmatic man. One night, the man reveals that he can transform into a wolf, and they later have two wolf children: a daughter, Yuki, year later a son, Ame. Soon after, their father is killed in an accident while hunting food for the children.
Hana’s life as a single mother is difficult: Yuki and Ame constantly switch between their human and wolf forms, and she struggles to raise two wolf children alone and keep their secret. After she receives noise complaints and a visit from social workers concerned that the children have not had vaccinations, Hana moves the family to the secluded countryside where the kids can roam free and decided whether they want to be human or wolf.
Review: / 5
I think it’s about time for a film review! And to celebrate the occasion, I’ve decided to look at one of my all-time favorites. We all know Ghibli is great, but for my first film, I wanted to choose something different– there are so many other anime films which deserve recognition and are shrouded behind Miyazaki’s glory. Mamoru Hosoda is absolutely brilliant. He’s directed my other two favorites: The Girl Who Leapt Through Time and The Boy and the Beast, both of which are 5 out of 5. They’re incredible and are well worth a watch.
But let’s get into this masterpiece of Hana, Yuki and Ame
can we also appreciate that Hosoda helped direct one piece and Hana’s wearing Luffy’s hat? The Easter eggs, people. My little weeb heart can’t take them.
This is set in the magic realism / urban fantasy and slice of life genres, and does a great job of maintaining the balance between the two worlds. The love story is believable and authentic, full of heartwarming moments as well as tear-jerking ones. Look at this gif of when our leading couple find out Hana is pregnant with Yuki:
I should add this bit is done without voice actors. Instead, it’s all beautiful instrumental soundtrack. I don’t usually mention the soundtrack in my reviews, but this one’s incredible and deserving recognition.
Another instance is when Yuki swallows a silica packet and is very ill. Hana, alone and terrified, does not know whether to take her daughter to a hospital or to a vet. It’s a brief moment, but it exposes the intense vulnerability of her situation. Furthermore, it was almost laughable: dogs and babies eat practically everything. Just like in Haikyū, the film blends tones seamlessly, and as a consumer we feel a great multitude of emotions, deepening our immersion and interest in the story.
Wolf Children uses beautiful animation and excellent story-writing throughout the film. Its perfect pacing, plot and mechanics are all spot-on. Nothing feels off–nothing rushed or too drawn out. That’s extremely difficult to do, and for an anime lover, it’s equally pleasing to watch.
It’s difficult to pinpoint what makes this film so special. What specifically acts as the root for its success? For me, it almost always is the characters, and the themes they represent. Yuki and Ame are just kids: they play and they have quirks and wants and needs. But beyond that they are capable of astute observations and insights. Here, Yuki is sharing her box of treasures with the girls in her class, who are sharing their jewelry and makeup they got from their mothers:
she learns, quite quickly, that most little girls are not fans of skulls and newts.
And then there’s this moment with Ame, which breaks my heart every time I watch:
Wolf Children painfully conveys the struggle of the hybrid subject embodying two binary selves, and the fractured identity it produces. To be vilified by society without any reason other than they were born different, it’s deeply unfair and highly resonate to some of the discrimination many children face today.
Hana, Yuki and Ame force the audience to question where, if anywhere, a hybrid subject belongs, how they might assimilate and identify within that space, and to what extent doing so would require surrendering the contrasting perspective.
As the film develops, so too do their characters, their perspectives change and clash, leading to quite the dramatic climax. Be sure to give this one a watch and add it to your collection if you haven’t already!
Watch on, Annieme-niac!