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From the maker of The Girl Who leapt through Time and Summer Wars comes a fantastical...slice of life?
I watched Ookami kodomo Ame to Yuki (which I shall refer to as Wolf Children) on a plane back to England. At the time, I was just looking for something to do on an arduous 14 hour flight home and Wolf Children was there. I didn’t know anything about its pedigree, the studio, or the director behind it and here’s the thing; I think that it made watching Wolf Children a lot more enjoyable.
Those looking for another Girl Who Leapt Through Time or Summer Wars will be disappointed; Wolf Children is certainly nowhere near as dramatic as either of the two former films. Instead, Wolf Children is soft. Subdued. Even more so than the Girl Who Leapt Through Time. The element of supernatural fantasy that does exist within the film is only used to set the scene. However, if you’re looking for a charming slice of life with a supernatural twist why not spend some time with Wolf Children?
The story is simple. A young woman, Hana, meets a werewolf in her college days. They fall in love and have wolf-babies. (Don’t question how or if this counts as bestiality). Then, tragedy strikes as Hana’s husband dies shortly after the birth of their son Ame. Left as a single mother, struggling between work, raising kids, and the additional problems of having children who can turn into wolves, Hana throws up her hands and relocates to rural Japan to start life over again.
If one were to make a comparison with Summer Wars, it would be in Wolf Children’s take on family. The trials as well as thejoys of family. Even as Yuki and Ame head down two very different routes, family will always be important. The movie captures the bitter-sweetness of growing up and growing apart. “I still haven’t done anything for you yet!” Hana screams at Ame, even though she has already done plenty, even though you don’t have to do anything to deserve the love of family.
Wolf Children revolves around many charming moments and it's important that Yuki and Ame get equal screen time with Hana. The neighbours mostly take a backstage, (with the exception of the crotchety old man who helps Hana grow crops), but the scenes where everyone pulls together and helps each other out are some of the most heart-warming.
Wolf Children can be described as a sort of darkness with dashes of light, or perhaps a feeling of lightness gnawed at the edges by darkness. There is a sense of melancholy as the children grow up and walk down different paths, but it isn’t downright depressing and there are some laugh-out loud jokes in there which make the whole package charming.
To be honest, in a genre that already has plenty to offer, I’m not sure if Wolf Children really brings anything new to the table, and if you want a touching supernatural movie Hotarubi no Mori e might be a better choice. However, though it isn't a ground-breaking movie by any means, watching Wolf Children certainly won’t be a waste of your time either.