Wolf Children – Anime Review

Japanese Title: Ookami Kodomo no Ame to Yuki

 

Similar: My Neighbour Totoro

Grave of the Fireflies

Usagi Drop

 

Watched in: Japanese & English

Genre: Supernatural Contemporary Fantasy

Length: 1 hr. 57 min. movie

 

Positives:

  • Gorgeous art in every regard.
  • Best mum in anime.
  • Real kids.
  • Excellent use of music.
  • Original or dub, the acting is top class.

Negatives:

  • Needed another five minutes.

If I told of a werewolf romance story, you would probably roll your eyes and think, “Not another of those romances.” Wolf Children could seem like one such tiresome romance at first, but it doesn’t take long to defy expectations and evolve into a great story of family and survival.

At its heart, Wolf Children is about motherhood. Hana, an ordinary human woman, dedicates her life to raising her half-human half-wolf children, Yuki and Ame. The characters, as in any great story, are the core of the film, and their believable, human portrayals draw emotional engagement from the viewer. Hana is an incredible character, best mum in anime, and her struggle in raising two unusual kids made my heart go out to her. Her love shines through her dedication as she deals with strangers old and young, cranky and friendly.

Regarding the kids, they too have the real quality that brings them to life. These kids feel like real kids – they whine, they demand things, they vomit on the carpet, they chew through table legs (alright, that may not be normal for kids), they cry in the middle of the night, and yet through all this, they manage to be adorable, and genuinely try their best. The writers show a great understanding of children rarely found in fiction (the lack of innocence often the cause). Yuki is hyperactive, a hunter, always creating a mess for her mother to clean up, and has an endless appetite. On the other end, Ame is quiet, reserved and matures too quickly for his own good, outgrowing his stages in life at an unmanageable rate. Both children have to contend with controlling their wolf instincts – they can shift at will – while fitting into society, never mind the worry this secret causes their mother.

Back to the parents, their romance is a sweet one void of the “nobody gets me” overtones in teen supernatural romances, and is reminiscent of UP’s prologue. Why they work well together makes sense. At no point did it feel as though the writers wanted to force these characters together. No, it seems as though we looked in on two people as they lived their lives, no narrator’s hand to manipulate them for theatre.

If I had to level a complaint against Wolf Children, I would ask for a longer conclusion. Yuki’s plot thread ends, not on a cliffhanger, but without confirmation of what to expect next for imagination to carry on. Another five minutes could have wrapped everything together. Still, a minor issue.

Wolf Children is a proper life story of choices, challenges and conflict – and cuteness overload. It has a heart I found refreshing after consuming several heavy dramas in succession.

Art – Very High

Gorgeous art, highly detailed environments, and animation so good, you probably won’t notice the CG unless you know where to find it.

Sound – Very High

Music tells just as much story as words in Wolf Children. Entire sections have no dialogue, no sound effects, just beautiful music that conveys all we need. It has been a while since I have seen music-driven storytelling. When the sound effects return, they too know their part – subdued when needed or amplified to create unease or sorrow. You cannot go wrong with either language. The English doesn’t rope in out of place celebrities, but uses the best voice actors in the business.

Story – Very High

A mother struggles in life as she raises her two werewolf children, but she has a determination unlike any other. Real characters and emotion create an unforgettable experience.

Overall Quality – Very High

Recommendation: A must watch. There is no more I can say to convince you of Wolf Children’s necessity in your anime library.

(Request reviews here. Find out more about the rating system here.)

 

Awards: (hover mouse over each award to see descriptions; click award for more recipients)

Positive:

CharmDeep NarrativeExtensive Character DevelopmentFluid AnimationGreat MusicStellar Voice ActingStrong Lead CharactersStunning Art Quality

Negative: None

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