Wolf Children Ame & Yuki Review

I won’t say my expectations for Wolf Children were high, though I will say that considering director Mamoru Hosoda’s track record, I was prepared to watch something well… good. And while said expectations were met, I couldn’t help but think there still remained some untapped potential in this latest work.

Wolf Children Ame & Yuki poster

Wolf Children tells the story of Hana, a woman who unknowingly falls for a werewolf. The story begins with the two of them meeting at college—Hana working hard to balance classes and part-time jobs to pay off rent and the like. Meanwhile, the Wolfman spends his days performing manual labor while occasionally finding the time to sneak into college lectures, where Hana takes a sudden interest in him. While the whole idea of werewolf on human ackshun is a rather difficult pill to swallow, the film does do a fine job of at the least making the love between them endearing and the Wolfman’s untimely death that much more tragic all in the span of the first 20 minutes.

What follows after such Disney-levels of trauma is Hana’s journey in raising two wolf children as a single mother. Not only must she hide her children’s secret from the public (the film takes the Japanese lore of werewolves into account, which can transform at will rather than just on full moons), but she must also be able to provide for them in a society that is arguably just not made for them. The fact that Hana is able to just smile through her problems when she is clearly suffering on the inside just makes you empathize with her that much more, even if you aren’t a parent yourself.

My only real problem with the film is its approach to the wolf children as they grow up. At least in older sister Yuki’s case, her exposure to both the human and wolf lifestyle seems even enough for her to make a sound decision as to who she chooses to define herself as. With younger brother Ame, though, he seems to have chosen the lone wolf lifestyle early on without too much of a struggle, making his decisions later in the movie to come off as more selfish than selfless. More of a clash between the human and wolf life throughout the movie rather than in select parts would have definitely helped raise the drama overall. Certain scenes like a toddler-aged Ame crying over the wolf being the antagonist in his picture book really brings home the idea of a clashing of cultures that I wish was better emphasized throughout, especially since when it comes down to things, life isn’t as simple as choosing one “culture” of lifestyle over another. On the contrary, culture should be what you make of it.

As a whole, Wolf Children is your standard Hosoda-directed movie, with plenty of poignant moments throughout. Though in comparison to his other works, it definitely doesn’t stand out as prominently.

Further Reading: Interview with Mamoru Hosoda on Wolf Children at kokidokum.net

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