Is Mamoru Hosoda the heir to Miyazaki's throne when it comes to animated films? He very well just might be. In 2013, Miyazaki released his last film, The Wind Rises. I was extremely sad to see him go because I fell in love with his work as a young child. Enter Hosoda, who also did Summer Wars and The Girl Who Leapt Through Time. Wolf Children is the story of mother named Hana, and her tale of raising her half human and half wolf children. The beautiful story and animation will leave you in tears and with a smile.
Hana, a young student, attends a college and meets a man who shows up to class but doesn't sign the roll. She chases after him and gets to know him. Soon their relationship blossoms and the man decides to reveal his true self as a wolfman. He is the only descendant of a human and wolf remaining and Hana seems to be okay with it. As their relationship they soon have two kids: Yuki (an outgoing girl) and Ame (a very quiet boy). Circumstances lead her to raise these two kids on her own later in the film.
The story, in my opinion, is one of the strongest parts of this film. It explores the bridge between human and wolf. The thing about Ame and Yuki is that they can "shapeshift" into wolves as they are both human and wolf. This leaves Hana to make certain decisions such as whether to take her sick child to the vet or the pediatrician. She also avoids allowing her children to make contact with other children for fear that they may expose themselves. Eventually, these two wolf children will need to make the choice of whether they wish to remain wolf or human. These elements make the film very interesting and enjoyable to watch.
Animation and Sound
No doubt about it, this film is absolutely stunning in the visual department. Studio Chizu and Madhouse bring a variety of color and gorgeous backgrounds, such as the bustling city to the quiet countryside. I felt that the most memorable scene was the part where Ame and Yuki run through the snow.
Takagi Masakatsu delivers a very impressive soundtrack as well. The OST ranges from the extravagant theme of Ame and Yuki playing in the snow to the calm and serene strings during Hana's time with the Wolfman. Overall a very memorable OST.
While the film primarily focuses on Hana, Ame, and Yuki, there are still a good number of side characters throughout the film. The Wolfman is kind and loving. All the villagers of the countryside welcome Hana warmly and help her settle into her new life. The people of the city are wondering if she has a dog and why her children are always crying at night. The bonds between Hana's family and the villagers are so strong despite them not knowing each other all that well beforehand.
Hana is my favorite character and usually I don't pick the main character as my favorite. She was able to raise her children and persevere through all of the challenges thrown her way. She is very admirable and the kind of loving mother these children needed.
The first time I saw this film, I absolutely loved it. But even now, I find it so hard to rewatch. It feels like the film gets sadder every time I do. That's what makes it such a good film. I haven't seen a movie in while that could do the same thing to me. The journey that Hana makes with her family is incredible and the film highlights the good times and their bad. It's such a powerful film and it seems to me that each of Hosoda's films get better. Wolf Children has quickly become one of my all time favorite anime films.
Overall Thoughts and Conclusion
I saw an advertisement for this movie in a magazine and it looked great. I knew I had to watch it. The character design and the long string of awards told me it would be good. I am always planning on rewatching it. This film taught me that life can still be beautiful, even when things aren't at their best. I've been able to relate to this and honestly, it can change your life if you are able to change your outlook on the situation at hand. It's all up to you in the end. Hana definitely deserves a "Mom of the Year" Award. I don't know what to say. I was very excited to see this movie and I was definitely expecting a lot from it and guess what: I got a lot out of it. Watch this! You will not be disappointed.