Movie Review: Wolf Children
Do you like stories that will make you cry? Well this full length feature anime film may just be for you! It isn’t often that we praise an anime film that isn’t a Miyazaki work, but hey the times called for a movie about growing up as a wolf and a human. Okami Kodomo no Ame to Yuki (Wolf Children) was released in 2012 by director Mamoru Hosoda. From Studio Chizu and Madhouse we were given a touching tale about a human woman and her attempt to raise her werewolf children.
The plot is pretty simple in the exact way that it is a mother, Hana, raising her werewolf children alone after the untimely death of her werewolf lover, duly named Okami or the Wolf-man. She struggles of course with the problems of where she should go if she’s having problems, how to hide the fact that her children are werewolves, and how it affects the way Ame and Yuki grow up. She moves out of the city because of this and into the country-side where she is able to raise them in private and live a peaceful life. With these choices come both problems where the children have to choose if they want to be human or if they want to be wolves and how that changes their own perceptions of themselves.
Hana is the mother of the two children who struggles to raise her two children alone, while also sustaining a life for them via gardening, and how she deals with these problems. Intrigued by Okami from the moment he sat down in the same classroom as her, she made it her mission to find out both who he was and how she could become closer to him. Because of this she found out that he was what he assumed to be the last werewolf and was afraid of hurting her in any way because of what he was, but she still loves him despite those things. She is constantly a support for her children but also wishes to keep the reality of them a secret from the world out of fear of what would happen if anyone found out. Hana always tries to do best by her children but ultimately also stunts them from making choices of their own because of this.
Yuki is the eldest of Hana’s children and is a complicated young girl wolf. From the get go she is very pushy and bratty with her family, wanting to get out of the world she is locked away from, but she also realizes why her mother is keeping her hidden. The older she became the more she was faced with the choice of what it meant to be a normal girl and if she wanted to part of that world she had to choose between the wolf and the human inside of her. In school she is popular but also in constant fear of changing in front of her classmates by accident.
Ame is the youngest of Hana’s children and appears less complicated but then becomes the opposite of what he was set up to be. Easily startled and sick he was always babied by Hana and sought to stay in the human world as he hated how the other animals treated him and each other. However the older he got the more he became disillusioned and disgusted by humanity, and began to leave for the words more and more than his sister ever did. He no longer hides how he feels about people and never lets his sister shout him down.
Souhei is Yuki’s classmate and driving force in her need to become more human. Right off the bat he realizes something is off about her and constantly tries to talk with her or try and be friends with her. This however frightens Yuki, because he could easily find out her family’s secret because of his intuitions. Still he makes a friendship with her despite the hardships in the beginning between them.
Okami is the wolf man that Hana falls in love with, who he initially tells to leave him alone, but later also falls for. He fears what he could do to her, having chosen to live not only as a human but also as a wolf, which he tells her is why he was always pushing her back. Still with her acceptance of him he is able to grow and love her as well as have a family with her. Unfortunately he is sort of killed off early on in the movie to further progress Hana’s story, but hey it’s all for the sake of plot!
So animation wise this film is brilliant. It was developed to have the lightest of tones when it was just right. If you don’t want to watch this movie I implore you that there is one scene you have to watch, and it is the snow scene. The way the wolf children and their mother run through the snow and jump in piles is so beautiful and is only made better by the soundtrack. Also the characters could be more individualized but they weren’t terrible to the pint of disliking the movie, there are very clear ways of how to figure out which character is which. And that how subtle and beautiful this is because it doesn’t rely on the design of a character, they want you to know the character because of the story and what they’re going through. The animation of the wolves was also well done, not in the same sense as Wolf’s Rain, but in its own lighter style that was soothing comparatively to the big subjects it was dealing with. We also were given a beautiful array of nature that seem right out of a painting to give you that raw and artistic feel that is the forest or the countryside. If I could rate this film on just the animation style it would get a ten and I would have no regrets.
The music is literally on the same level as the animation style. The soundtrack was done by musician and filmmaker Tagaki Masakatsu, who brilliantly does his job. Each piece of music fits exactly where it needs to be, once again if there is one song to really take away from this film it is the piece played during the snow scene, which is so graceful and has the same excitement in it that the characters do for the snow. The other to take away is the song Okaa-san no Uta (Mother’s Song), which is literally Hana speaking to her children at the end of the movie and how no matter what she hopes she has done right by them and taught them to be strong. It the single most beautiful sense you can feel the love in that song and how it really is what this move is about, the love of the mother for her children. If a single song of the soundtrack can do that then you know that it is doing its job right. I would wholeheartedly say that you could just listen to this soundtrack and just relax and feel peace and calm with it. Light and lovely like it’s animation I wish I could rate this just on these two things.
Alright in terms of sub or dub I can’t really say much considering I have only seen the Funimation dub, which I thought was really well done. While some could argue that you could give or take certain voice actors I personally saw that the good outweighs the bad. We have veterans of the business like Colleen Clinkenbeard as Hana, which immediately should tell you that it is going to be a good piece of dub. While I suppose the children actors could be better they also could have been far worse, not everyone is going to have the same opportunity the Fullmetal Alchemist did. Still the dub could have been better but it also could have been a lot worse from what I’ve seen.
Now just to wrap up with the ideal amount on the buildup in story. It never feels rushed, instead it flows very beautifully in a way that shows growing up. It’s spaced out in a way that I always could feel like careful care and attention was taken into account. While I wish there had been more time take on Ame’s story and how he grew into the choices he then made I also didn’t feel like it took too much away either. I have no real complaints about this film really, I felt everything was done in the way that the writer intended, and it was beautifully done.
Overall Rating: 8.5/10