I went to HMV and managed to bag myself the DVD for Wolf Children, I had been hearing about this film for a while now and hadn’t got the chance to watch it yet. One of the issues I had with this film is I’m not a massive fan of ‘furries’, but I thought I’d put my reservations aside and give it a go.
I watched the film in dub (I know, I’m super lazy), I am always skeptical about dubs unless they are Studio Ghibli films. The film isn’t a Ghibli film however it looks and feels like a Ghibli film, almost anyway. The dub wasn’t that bad, it is watchable at least.
So without further ado, I will warn you of spoilers ahead.
This isn’t a typical romance, although it may seem like it from the start, it’s pretty tragic. The film introduces us to a young woman who is currently attending University, she is distracted by a man who attends the lectures, but she finds out that he’s actually not a student, this guy is just attending to learn something.
The woman in question, Hana and the man (he’s never actually named so I’ll just refer to him as Wolf Man) fall in love and pretty much start a family. They have a daughter and a son and we are given the picture of a happy family.
However, I’m just going to put this out there, but I’m pretty sure they slept together when he was a Wolf, that was a really weird moment for me, almost a moment where I stopped watching and just forgot about it. Nonetheless I persevered.
Suddenly after the birth of their second child, the Wolf Man is killed, no explanation why. I couldn’t feel sad at this moment, I had only just been introduced to the characters and I wouldn’t say that I was attached to them yet, the Wolf Man’s death didn’t pull at my heart strings, it was sad yes, but almost expected.
Hana struggles to raise two young children, anyone would. However these are not just any ordinary children these are wait for it….’Wolf Children’. Unlike their father they can change their appearance at will. There are lots of ups and downs, light hearted moments and even when dark it is given a funny twist, one of the children fall ill and she doesn’t know whether to go to a vets or a pediatrician.
I supposed it reflects the struggles of a real single mother. Having two young children to care for with no support from the outside and in addition to this they turn into young wolf puppy’s randomly.
Hana almost seems like an unbeatable force, superwoman, should I say. Taking the children way out to the countryside so they can be free to live as wolves and humans. One of the things I noticed is that her daughter, who is the eldest, named Yuki, loves being a wolf, the idea of moving to the countryside for her is wonderful. Whereas Ame, the younger son is timid and is always near his mother for comfort and doesn’t feel as comfortable as being a wolf.
My initial impressions is out of the two Ame was my favorite child, Yuki was hyperactive and annoying, causing trouble for her mother one way or another, Ame seemed weak and needy, I almost felt like I wanted to mother him.
However this is quickly changed with the introduction of the children attending school. Yuki realises what it is like to be a human girl and wishes to follow her fellow class mates. Whilst Ame struggles with school and secludes himself, joining his mother at her job.
Oh yeah, in between all of this happening Hana is restoring the mess of the house she bought, planting crops and becoming self sufficient whilst raising two children on her own who also happen to able to turn in to wolves and in addition to that also gets a job at the local wildlife preservation centre. Told you – Super woman. Not once does she cry, she smiles however with reference to earlier in the film apparently she smiled at her own fathers funeral, she doesn’t even to have seem to properly grieved for her partner who died.
I’m sorry but Hana, who must be in her early twenties needs to express some grief or sorrow, I find it really hard to believe someone in the real world would find it hard to pull themselves together. However maybe the children kept her going. It just seems unrealistic emotionally to me, Hana should have been distraught, unable to cope, let alone move to a house in the middle of nowhere and be able to start a farm. The story telling just seems a bit too far fetched.
The overall ending of the film however is heart wrenching, Ame who has been spending more time in the wilderness, believes his heart lies with the forest and decides to become ‘full time wolf’ as even though he’s only a 10 year old boy, he is a 10 year old wolf…who is now fully grown, so yeah, mother lets 10 year old son go live in the woods on a full time basis being a wolf. I was heartbroken for her and so annoyed at Ame just basically throwing away his human life like that, but can understand his reasoning to an extent.
On top of that Yuki, now 12 goes to boarding school. So basically Hana is left all alone in the big house, in the middle of nowhere, to listen to her son’s wolf howls for the rest of her life.
The story really aggravates me in this respect – Hana who has spent 12 years bring up two children, loses them both and is alone. The trouble she went through to make sure they had the best life she could give them and they are not even adults before they leave her. I feel desperately sorry for Hana in this movie – but she seems surprisingly content. It would be nice to know, if Yuki and Ame sometimes came home for tea and biscuits. It’s also really sad that Yuki and Ame seem to have lost any kind of sibling relationship with each other as they both chose different paths.
At the end it just feels like the family is broken and isn’t very satisfying. Like I said, this feels like a Ghibli movie but at the same time it isn’t, the story telling is poor and I genuinely felt angry towards Yuki and Ame. Hana gave everything up for them, changed her life completely and pushed herself. Maybe if I was a parent I would have a different perspective on this film but I really can’t see that happening. I feel like there should have been some scene at the end with them all together around a dinner table still enjoying family life even though they had all chose different paths to go down.
This film will definitely get your emotions running high whatever the situation, you can find it really heart-warming or you can find it really sad and dejecting. Why do I always seem to watch these films that make me feel empty inside?
+Looks and feels like a Ghibli movie
+Struggles of heartbreak and single parents accurately portrayed
-Isn’t a Ghibli movie
-Ending that makes you feel angry at the main characters
-10 year old kids shouldn’t be able to live in woods, wolf child or non-wolf child.