This movie was recomended to me by a co-worker. At first I didn't actually got interested in it, but after going to a store and see the novel book and looking at a few pages I became intrigued with the story and I have to say I don't regret watching it. Its a beautiful story of unconditional maternal love with real life struggles.
I wasn't really sure what exactly to expect when I heard of this anime. A mother taking care of werewolf children? Sounded pretty damn silly to me, but I gotta say I was surprised in a good way with this film. This movie comes to us from the director of works such as Summer wars and Girl Who Leapt through time, so I had somewhat high expectations and this movie doesn't disappoint.
Story- The story centres around Hana a young women who happens to fall in love with a wolf who can somehow turn into a human and procreate with humans. Now this is where your suspension of disbelief comes in, at first I thought the idea was pretty silly, but as the film progressed, I realized it was actually quite grounded for having a premise thats so out there. In an attempt to keep things spoiler free, after certain circumstances she has to take care of the two children she had with this wolf by herself and it basically takes us through the hardships they have to endure for about 13 years if I recall correctly.
Animation- While the backrounds were very well renderd and detailed, I can't say the same about the character designs. This was even more disappointing to me considering Madhouse had a part to play in this and there productions tend to be a step above in the visuals department. Theres also a few instances of iffy CGI use. Overall I think the detail of the backrounds makes up for it's weaker areas.
Sound- The voice acting was top-notch, with all the performces being very believable. The music for the most part didn't stand out very much to me, its the regular fare you would expect for this kind of movie, but it gets the job done.
Characters- Proably the strongest point of this movie, all the characters are extremely relatable and almost seem like real people. Despite the odd premise the characters are very down to earth and act how you would expect them to act considering their respective ages throughout the movie. Although, the somewhat rash romance of the Mother at the start could warrant some headscratching. The main characters conisist of Hana the mother, the wolf who she had her children with simply known as Ookami. Her two children Yuki and Ame, as well as Souhei a young boy that Yuki befriends later on in the story. All the characters are well developed and fleshed out, except for the father as he is not present in the story for very long.
Overall- I didn't expect to enjoy this movie as much as I did. Especially considering the length it clocks in at right about 2 hours, but I felt almost completely engaged during the whole time, unlike say something like Letter to Momo, where I deffinitely felt like the movie dragged on for a long time. Overall I think this movie was another great achievement my Mamoru Hosoda and I hope he can continue to put out movies of this quality
A really good film. I just finished watching it and I was crying 20 mintues in and for most of the rest of the film. I found it really sweet and cute and I think it's really good. I will definitely watch it again.
This movie didn't make me cry, which is usually how I determine how much I like these sorts of things. So it loses some points from that. I've also heard some people critique this movie for being 'rambly and unfocused', which, okay, it totally was. It covers 13~ years and kind of just keeps going. But I'd consider it a bildingsroman of sorts, and those are always pretty rambly so I wasn't bothered by it overmuch.
The movie starts off with Hana (the mother character) and the ~mysterious~ werewolf man falling in love, though why they decided to do so wasn't given much attention. Their relationship kind of reminded me of one of those teen paranormal romances (like Shiver). Hana describes him as 'different from all the other guys', so I'd guess she's mainly in love with the idea of him- dangerous and mysterious and different. She probably had a pretty boring life up til now. As for why he reciprocates- maybe she just followed him around until he gave in? It's unclear, and honestly from my perspective their relationship doesn't really matter- it's all just set-up for Hana's relationship with her children and the actual meat of the story, so even though I didn't particularly enjoy this section, it didn't affect my overall enjoyment too much.
Also: Furry Alert. After he tells her what he is, they have sex while he's in some weird half-wolf/half-man form. Hello! TURN BACK INTO A DUDE BEFORE YOU STICK YOUR DICK IN HER- I DO NOT NEED THAT MENTAL IMAGE. Luckily the scene is very short and doesn't show anything. But still. Ew.
The other thing I didn't like too much was the ending. The nature-boy subplot did absolutely nothing for me (even though the forest was gorgeous).
Between these two 'meh' bookends, though, was pure gold and filled with eyecandy scenery. I especially loved the gruff farmers and the family's gradual integration into the small rural community they move into. I thought the growth of the children was really well-executed, and loved seeing how certain events drastically altered their future personalities and paths.
I'm afraid if I go on for much longer, this section will just turn into mindless fangirling, so I'll cut it short: the middle sections were excellent, and since they take up at least 4/5 of the film, I heartily recommend this. It's a really fun blend of agonizing realism (absolutely everything that can go wrong does) tempered by perserverance and love, and finished off with the perfect amount of magic.
Let me start off by saying this review will have some spoilers in it, so you have been warned.
Wolf Children is the story of Hana, a college student who meets a werewolf and falls in love, has a whirlwind romance, gets pregnant, and ends up having to raise two werewolf children on her own when the father dies just after the two kids are born. Hana deals with problems, some of which will be familiar to most parents, and others which will be familiar to most dog owners (such as chewing on furniture). All things considered, Wolf Children is a solidly good movie. However, it’s not as good as the hype it’s received.
Let’s break it down:
Animation: 9.0 This is full of high quality visuals. Absolutely beautiful, especially the gorgeous scenery once Hana moves to the country! All the motion is smooth, the colors are outstanding and vivid, everything really looks amazing. If there is any flaw, I would have to say the initial transformation of the father into a wolf was a bit of a letdown. It’s pretty much just a slow morph from man to man-wolf, and it really could have been a lot better. This movie has little to offer in the way of effects, and this transformation was their chance to shine, and I feel it was a missed opportunity. But still, it’s a small gripe.
On a side note, I’m a bit confused as to why Wolf Daddy tells Hana not to watch him transform, and then proceeds to transform extremely slowly over a couple of minutes (which of course Hana sees), however it is clearly established later on that the transformation can be instant.
Sound: 8.0 The voice acting was great. Very believable emotions, and the voices seemed to fit the characters very well. The music was good but not great. It was the typical orchestral background music which you would expect for a movie like this, and there really wasn’t anything wrong with it. However, there wasn’t anything which I could listen to by itself. To get a perfect ten in this category, I have to be looking for the music online after I finish watching the show, and that’s not the case here.
Story: 7 The story is good. We see approximately twelve years of Hana raising her two wolf children from infants to middle school. Each has to find their own way, human or wolf, and it is interesting to see how they make their choices and how they deal with their dual natures. This was a great concept, which you would expect from Mamoru Hosoda, who brought us Summer Wars and The Girl Who Leapt Through Time, but the concept wasn’t masterfully executed. Actually, it did seem like the movie was trying too hard to be a Ghibly film at times, especially once they moved to the country. Specifically it was like watching Totoro, but with less magic and mystery. It had the look but not the feel. There are some scenes which are badly mishandled. (spoiler)Toward the end, Ame, Hana’s son, runs off to live full time in the woods as a wolf. Unfortunately, instead of playing this as an emotional farewell, it is played for unnecessary drama and excitement. For some reason which is never explained, he decides the best time to run off and leave mom is in the middle of a typhoon! No explanation to mom, just open the door and split! Mom, of course, runs after him nearly dying while trying to navigate the woods during the intense storm while searching for her son. I suppose we are supposed to be worried about him, but I was fairly pissed off that he would put his mother through that. Why didn’t he just wait till the storm had passed? Why didn’t he explain to Hana what he was doing? Because the show was nearing its end, and they needed a dramatic climax, that’s why. It was fairly obvious and I was not impressed by it. To make the kid even more of a dick, it’s at least implied that he never even comes back to visit poor old mom after deciding that the woods are a better home than the one she’s been providing. Finally, the story lacks any real ending at all. We get to see that the children have decided which world they want to live in, but that’s as close to a resolution as we are going to get.
Oh, one more thing. When Ame goes off to spend time with a fox who lives on the nearby mountain, I couldn’t help thinking of Disney’s The Fox and the Hound.
Characters: 7 Hana is the main character, and that may be one of the movie’s biggest problems. Miyazaki’s films had a sense of wonder, mostly because we experience the world through the eyes of very young characters. In this movie, we mostly experience it through the eyes of an adult going through difficult circumstances. The story is narrated and told by the daughter, but she is only a central character for the last half of the movie. The father is a real letdown. He is only in the movie very briefly, has only a few lines, and apparently passed on a genetic predisposition to run outside during horrible weather. In fact, we never even learn his name, which pretty much relegates him to the status of an extra. The unfortunate result is that that when he dies, we lack the emotional attachment which we would normally have for such a character, and although we feel bad for Hana, we don’t know the father well enough to feel the loss as we should.
Overall: 7.75 I liked it. I would recommend it. However, there’s nothing here that’s going to bring you back for a re-watch, so I say stream it instead of buying it. I should also point out that my wife and daughter actually got pissed off at me for not giving it a perfect 10 rating, so it apparently appeals more to female audiences. But I stand by my review.