My, it’s been such a long time since I wrote there that I nearly forgot we were Tuesday and you nearly didn’t have your weekly (well, except for last week) anime review column. I’m sure you’d have been sad!
That being said, today I will talk about the most recent Mamoru Hosoda film. He did The Girl Who Leapt Through Time and Summer Wars but today I’m going to review Wolf’s Children (Oukami Kodomo no Ame to Yuki). The story of this movie is quite simple and contained in its title: it’s mainly about the children of a man who was also a wolf and their human mother. It shows how they grow up and how the family faces difficulties.
If I had to give it a genre I’d say it’s slice of life, which is a very tricky genre. Thankfully Wolf’s Children was a good slice of life (For me, a good slice of life is one that’s not boring, just to be clear.). I can’t really describe why it wasn’t boring, maybe because it covered something like 13 years in a 2+ hour movie, or maybe because it was well constructed. I couldn’t really bring myself to care, I was too engrossed in the movie.
It essentially deals with family, even if the children are both humans and wolves we all can relate to family. Watching their family struggle with so many things, from death, rejection, financial problems, and simply surviving in a world that they don’t really understand because they’re so different really was something I could relate to. In a way, it’s a bit overdone, it’s a bit too easy. They end up facing so many problems that one person could nearly be sure to find something that would touch them. But at the same time it makes it a movie for everyone. Even if the narrator is actually Yuki, the little girl, and the main character is the mother, the movie follows her as she tries to raise her children to become fine adults. Even if the actual main character is the mother, everything revolves around the children. Either way, they know exactly what to do to strike something in the viewer, but it isn’t overdone, it’s actually pretty subtle and I didn’t find that the movie was suffering from it so it didn’t really disturb me. I just thought it was worth noting.
To be completely honest though, it’s one of the first things I have watched that got me so emotionally involved that didn’t also make me cry, not because it wasn’t sad, it was, but because it was hopeful. And that’s probably the thing I have liked the most in this. No matter what happens and no matter how hard it is, that mother does everything she can for her children, and more importantly she stays positive no matter what. Many parents could follow her example; their children would be thankful. (If some people reading me are parents, that’s good advice, trust me on that.)I usually am not a fan of mothers in anime, or mothers in entertainment in general but I thought this one to be well done, well-developed, very cute and inspiring.
As for the children, I found it very interesting to see them grow throughout the movie. The fact they’re half-wolves takes a big place in their characters but at the same time it could be anything else, what really mattered in my opinion is that they were different. On the other hand, the fact they’re wolves and can transform at will made for interesting situations at school, and/or in the house. (Many children try to eat the furniture, not many of them can actually destroy them; also, fights between siblings take a completely different turn.)
Strangely enough, even though Yuki was the girl and that I should feel close to her, I think I liked Ame much better. I don’t really know why, maybe it’s because Ame was more independent and tried to find his own way without depending so much on others. Maybe it’s because I feel she betrayed herself to fit in. But at the same time it was a very normal reaction, everyone does that at some point in their lives. All of this to say that I quite liked these two characters. I liked everyone in the movie actually, even though not many side characters got much screen-time aside from Souhei, but since he was Yuki’s love interest and that the presence of such a character is always a bit mandatory, I’d say it’s normal. Though I’m quite sad I didn’t get to know more of his background, his family situation seemed quite interesting too.
Anyway, I guess I’ll finish by saying you should watch it, I heard it will be shown in some U.S theaters, you should go. (Not to brag but in France we had it 6 months ago, not in any theaters near my place but still!)