Hello all! Today I'm getting off of my butt to review a lovely little movie called Wolf Children, so let's get to it!
Hana is a 19-year-old student who falls in love with a "wolf man". Hana gives birth to two children Yuki and Ame, or "Snow and Rain". At first the family quietly lives in city trying to hide their wolf heritage, but certain circumstances force Hana to make the decision to move to a rural town. (Paraphrased from this link to avoid spoilers)
What I loved:
Wolf Children is simply lovely. The art is charming, the music is fitting, the characters are wonderful, and the story is heartwarming. Mamoru Hosoda is wonderful, and this film is no exception. This is not an inspirational tale(heh tail) of heroics or glory, it is a story about life and how it whisks you along. Worth mentioning are the two love stories in the movie. They make me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.
The movie's main focus is on the hardships that the family has to go through. Ame and Yuki struggle to choose which path they want to take in life: the path of the wolf or the path of the human. This may seem like a fairly simple premise, but Ame and Yuki are handled very well and the struggle is very emotional and real. Hana must struggle to give her children the opportunity to choose their own path and support her family. What should be noted about these characters is how real they feel and how natural their changes are. Every change within the characters feels natural.
The way the movie handles the children is great. Are they supposed to be taken to a doctor or a vet? How do you explain the damage done to a no-pets apartment? Is it possible for the kids to live normal lives? These are the types of questions that the movie throws at Hana and at the audience, and the answers are equal parts touching and entertaining.
Yuki, Ame and Hana are endearing to a fault. When the children are babies they are a handful for Hana but a riot for the audience. Just like in real life, a lot of laughter is generated by the antics of children. Hana's love for her children is almost tangible. She soldiers through every problem and struggle like a champ so that she can provide a good life for her children and allow them to discover their desires, hopes, and dreams on their own. Also, shouts to tsundere grandpa for being the coolest guy in the movie.
One of the nicest things about the movie is that it takes its sweet time. A lot of people use this as a complaint against the movie, but I think it adds to the experience. I enjoyed seeing every detail from the family's life and all of the ups and downs that are presented. In fact, I wish the movie was longer because I wanted to see more of their lives, especially after the movie ended. The story spans thirteen years, so it makes sense that so many details from Yuki's, Ame's, and Hana's lives are shown to us. It makes the characters feel more real because their small struggles are shown along with their major struggles and their high points. It works very well and I wish more movies were willing to sacrifice some pace in exchange for more detail.
What I didn't like:
Uhhhhh.... Nothing? I wish Ame was a little more developed I guess. There was nothing in this movie that I hated. There were some people in the background in the city that were animated in a rotoscopic fashion, and they were pretty ugly, but they were also very hard to notice. Ummm. The soundtrack wasn't memorable enough, even if it did work very well in context. The story wasn't perfect but it was very well executed and believable, so the little holes and flaws here and there are fairly trivial. I also wish that the climax was less rushed and had more time to be fully fleshed out. The good points absolutely crush the bad points in this movie. It could be argued that this movie would have been almost exactly the same if there was no wolf aspect. I half agree with that argument, but at the same time, the wolf stuff added more depth to the struggles of the characters and, coupled with the excellent characters and storytelling, really set Wolf Children apart from the pack.
The ending is a tad unsatisfying, because only one character's story is completely resolved, but at the same time I feel like it could not have ended any other way. The movie leaves the rest of the characters' lives open to interpretation. The ending leaves the characters uncertain but hopeful for their future, and that is enough to satisfy me.
The movie won't be for everyone. That's a fact. The pace is slow and there is no action to speak of, so if you're the type who doesn't like movies like that, skip it. This might seem like a family friendly movie, but there are certain parts of the movie that are distinctly unsuitable for younger viewers.
Wolf Children is a great movie. It isn't the best movie I have ever seen, but I will remember it for a very long time. I wish the movie was three hours instead of two so that everything could have been explored even more, but I can't hold that against it. For what it is, Wolf Children is a great movie and it gets a hearty recommendation from me.
Wolf Children gets a score of 92/100. Go watch it.
Any Ghibli film- Most Ghibli films have the same sense of wonder and similar themes
Any of Hosoda's other films
Tokyo Godfathers- Another heartwarming film with more mature subject matter.
A review of Colorful and Tokyo Godfathers.
Well, that's all folks, I hope it was enjoyable. Hopefully I made everyone who read this to want to run out and watch Wolf Children. If you disagree with my opinion, feel free to make your case in the comments or in a different post and feel free to give me constructive criticism so that I can improve for next time.