Review of 'Wolf Children (Ookami kodomo no Ame to Yuki)'

wolf_children.jpg Before watching this film I did not quite know what to expect. The title pretty much gives the story away: It is about children who are half-wolf, half-children. “Wolf Children” is a bit of a surprise…

When her werewolf lover (voiced by Takao Ohsawa) dies unexpectedly, Hana (Aoi Miyazaki) is left to care for their two half-human, half-wolf children Yuki (voiced by Haru Kuroki) and Ame (voiced by Yukito Nishii). When the risk of discovery becomes too much Hana takes the children to live in a house located in a remote corner of Japan where the children are able to roam without fear. Despite the locals initially sceptical at the former city-dweller in their midst they soon open up and the small family becomes part of the community. As the children attend school, joining human society they face a decision about whether they will be part of that society or chose instead to listen to the call of their worlf-selves…

Once you get past the fantastic premise of this film it is actually a really engaging, gentle character study that pulls no punches as far as the reality of the situation. Indeed, everything about this film is hyper-realistic from the detailed animation to the issues of modern Japanese life. The realities, for example, of living far away from civilisation with very little money. There is some light humour here but it is used sparingly with the filmmakers instead choosing to concentrate on the struggles of a young woman alone in a difficult situation struggling to raise her family. The characters are warm and really feel alive with the filmmakers taking the time for us to get to know them. There are some scenes of action but these are few and far between, the focus here is on the people. They feel like real people with complex issues that are easy for the audience to relate to. These are not one-dimensional beings. The two children, for example, are not just simply kids that occasionally transform into wolves (though they do) they are individuals with strikingly different personalities and are difficult not to become attached to. Even the bitterly grumpy neighbour turns out to be a warm and caring individual (though never puts down his mask).

An gentle and enjoyable film from a master of Japanese animation, Mamoru Hosada.

Rating: “I have absolutely no complaints”

Review Date: 2020-03-28

Directed by: Mamoru Hosoda

Studio: Nippon Television Network (NTV)

Year: 2012

Length: 117 minutes

Genre: Japanese Animation

Other reviewed films by Mamoru Hosoda: