Anime Title: Wolf Children おおかみこどもの雨と雪 “Ookami Kodomo no Ame to Yuki”
Production Studio: Madhouse Studios, Studio Chizu
Director: Mamoru Hosoda
Composer: Takagi Masakatsu
Release Date: July 21, 2012
Running Time: 1 Hour 57 Minutes + English Dub
Genres: Fantasy, Drama, Slice of Life
If you had the choice between being a wild animal, able to carve your own freedom in nature, or a human, bound by society, what would you choose? This question that I just brought forth is answered in this beautiful coming of age story about a single mother who has to take care of two children that are faced with this decision in life.
The story of Wolf Children is a fairly simple yet elegant one. Being about a single mother who is put in a position of having to raise two children on her own, the thing that sets this story apart from most others is how these children have the ability to transform into wolves. It is up to the mother to find answers on how to raise these children on her own, whether it be by the means of moving to the countryside in order of avoiding the chance of being discovered in public or by educating them by the means of drawings in a sketchbook and telling them to recite a chant “I’m gunna be a little girl/boy all the way home” while at school so they don’t transform during class. However as time progresses the two children decide what paths they want to take in life.
My personal thoughts on this story is how I believe that it should be watched by everyone who has either raised, raising, or aspires to raise a child one day. The amount of realism portrayed in this movie helps to keep the viewer grounded in the narrative, keeping you laughing one minute and crying the next. The story itself is by no means original, but it is an interesting spin on the “raising a child” type of movie.
This movie focuses around a mother (Hana) and her two children (Yuki and Ame).
Hana starts off at the beginning of the movie at the age of nineteen college student who soon meets the man of her dreams, named Ookami. Ookami later on in the movie decides to reveal his true self to Hana and she undeniably accepts him for who he is. These two later decide to have kids, and one event led to another that rendered Hana to soon become a single mom who is left to raise the two children on her own. Hana is the type of character that will go out of her way to do whatever she can to give her children the best life possible. She is willing to move to a rural area and learn how to plant crops for the first time, while also was working diligently to repair the torn up house that she had purchased. Hana is kind-hearted and is not afraid to admit to her children that she doesn’t know how to do everything, and it is this aspect of her personality that makes me want to aware her with the “Best Mother in Anime” award.
Yuki is the oldest of the two children and is the narrator of this movie. Yuki is very energetic and outgoing girl, she isn’t afraid to get her hands dirty and roll around in the mud. In her childhood years she loved to be the center of attention and tended to throw tantrums when everything didn’t go her way. While growing into her kindergarten years she always wanted to become someone she that was not. During the movie Yuki was willing to stand up and defend her brother Ame whenever he was getting bullied at school.
Ame is the youngest of the two children in the movie. Ame is extremely shy and fearful during his childhood years. He is the type of child who would always stick to their parents like a magnet and would rather stay in his current situation where he is most comfortable, in a sense he is the “I want to go home” type of child. During his elementary years he was always the kid who would get bullied and ultimately always got in trouble at school and being sent home hallway through the school day became the norm.
The thing that makes this movie stand out among others is how overtime the viewer is able to witness these children’s view on life take a complete 180°. This occurs around the age of ten. When the two children end up deciding on their path on life. It is with this drastic change in personality that is both stunning and extremely realistic for most children going through their teenage years. Since these children are also wolves, they naturally mature at a far faster rate than more other children. I love seeing the two break out of their shells and find a path in life.
This soundtrack is absolutely breathtaking at times. The thing that stands out in this OST the most is how it is specifically placed in different scenes to not only set the tone but also amplify it as well. Whether it be a slow and elegant song like “Meguri”, or an fun and adventurous song like “Yonhon Ashi no Odori”, or even a childish like song such as “Taiyou Wo Motta Hi”. This selection of music is very well put together, and some of the songs are upgraded versions of other songs in the soundtracks to match as if how the children are maturing, so is the music. If you were to ask me what my favorite song was from this soundtrack, my response would be “Yonhon Ashi no Odori”.
As for the Ending Theme “Okaa-san No Uta” by Ann Sally. My thoughts on this song is that is made in a way to feel sort of nostalgic. It gives me shivers whenever I hear it while also being reminded of how far those two children have changed over time and how quickly time has flown by. It is the ultimate feels trip of a song that can make me think back of not only these children’s past but also my own and how far I have come.
I am going to go straight forward and say how every single still frame of this movie could be considered a work of art. The detailing in this movie’s BluRay version is absolutely breath-taking. If you were to take the time, you would notice how every single brick, flower, tree, rock, tile, and blade of grass all have a unique yet detailed design to them.
As for the art style it is simple yet elegant, the character design is a more flat tone to it. When the backgrounds are a moving piece of art. It is a very difficult detail to describe but instead of explaining, how about I show you? At the bottom of this review you will see multiple different examples of what I am trying to explain. And all of these photos are of screenshots that I personally took while watching the movie.
If anyone was unaware, this was my first time watching this movie and that was just a week before this review was even made. Whenever I think back at this movie, I want to just watch it over and over and over again. This movie just so happens to have hit every single note for me. Whether it be for: my love of children, living in the mountains, or by relating myself towards Ame. This movie just happened to hit all the right notes to not only peek my interest, but also drag me into the movie and allowing me to watch a long time lapse of someone else’s life.
Personally the thing that amazed me the most about this movie is the extremely complex yet simplistic directing choices that were made for this film, and the way how this movie is the ultimate definition to the term “Show Don’t Tell”. The best example of “Show Don’t Tell” in this movie is how not once is the word “love” mentioned. But instead of saying that Hana loves her children, the movie portrays it in a way of showing us many different ways in how she does in fact love her children. Some of these examples is how she is willing to move to the countryside, warn her children of the dangers if they turned into wolves in front of others, and even by just repairing the house and planting a garden.
If you want to see one example of many brilliantly directed scenes in this movie, then click here to see a more in-depth analysis of how this movie used the famous Later Tracking Shot.
This movie has always been sitting on my Plan To Watch list, but I just never got to it until now. And boy am I glad that I finally decided to give it a shot. I am awarding this movie my second ever 10/10 rating, and has positioned itself into my #2 favorite anime of all time. I can’t express this enough, if you haven’t seen this movie yet. Stop whatever you are doing and go watch it. Also, this movie is a great way how to introduce your family into anime.
Side Note: This movie’s English Dub is one of the best that I have ever seen.
Stay tuned next week when I review another movie that I’ve been sleeping on for awhile, Princess Mononoke.
As promised, here is a large selection of beautiful screenshots that I took while watching this movie.