Wolf Children, or Ookami Kodomo no Ame to Yuki, came out in 2012 and has since become one of my favourite anime movies. The movie is almost two hours long and has won a total of seven awards. It won the Mainichi Film Award for Best Animation Film in 2012, the Japan Academy Prize for Animation of the Year in 2013 and the Animation of the Year award at the Tokyo International Anime Fair, also in 2013. Abroad Wolf Children also won awards, it won both the main award and the Silver Mirror, the audience award, at the Oslo Films From the South festival in Norway, the audience award at the New York International Children’s Film Festival in 2013 and, most recently, the Best Anime Disk award from Home Media Magazine in 2014. Wolf Children was adapted from the eponymous manga by Mamoru Hosoda, also the writer of Summer Wars, and Yuu. It was produced by Madhouse, known for among others Death Note and The Girl Who Leaped Through Time and Studio Chizu.
The story centres around a college student named Hana, who falls in love with Ookami, a mysterious man who she meets at one of her classes even though he’s not a student there. Hana soon finds out he’s not even human. Whenever there’s a full moon Ookami is transformed into a wolf, he explains that he is the last werewolf alive. To his surprise Hana doesn’t bolt after his secret is revealed to her, instead their love and relationship remains strong and will only grow stronger over time.
Hana and Ookami eventually start their own family, they welcome two more werewolves into the world: Yuki, their daughter and eldest, and Ame, their son and youngest. Both children were named after the weather conditions they were born during. Their father, Ookami, gets taken from them way too soon, which leaves their mother to take care of them by herself while grieving the death of her partner. She has no idea how to raise her wolf children, nor how to teach them to control their gifts. The latter makes it hard for her to hide her children’s secret from the general public, especially in a densely populated city. Hana decides, with her daughter and son’s best interests in mind, to move to the countryside. She hopes Ame and Yuki will be able to live their lives in peace here.
Seeing Hana struggle to raise her extraordinary children on her own creates a lot of compassion for her. She clearly is the kind of mother that has her children’s best interest in mind, even if things don’t always work out the way she plans them. The interaction between her and her children is interesting and beautiful to watch.
All of the characters have their own personality, which makes the story very realistic, even though it’s about ‘werewolves’. They don’t always understand one another or agree with each other and the story shows a very realistic relationship between a mother and her children. You see both children grow up and have their own unique personalities and ways of handling their gift.
Each character has their own unique design, but these aren’t super extravagant. This helps by not distracting from the main story. All of the characters still stand out in their own way and are very recognizable, even the children in their human forms.
This movie has combines so many themes that it’s hard to describe it with just the genres, which are drama, romance and supernatural. The main focus of Wolf Children is on the daily life of Hana and in particular her children Ame and Yuki. Although it is classified as a children’s movie, it contains some heart-breaking moments. The movie also contains a lot of heart-warming moments and will make you experience a wide range of emotions as you watch.
The animation in this movie seems flawless, the drawing style and animation work well together and make for a beautiful movie. I didn’t discover any inconsistencies when watching it, there might still be some inconsistencies but then those didn’t stand out when watching it for the first time. The drawing style is very simple, with seemingly almost no shading but detailed backgrounds. It doesn’t match the drawing style on the case of the DVD, which did surprise me at first. The style doesn’t distract away from the story and fits well with it being a movie for children.
The music used in Wolf Children helps convey emotion, whether it’s happiness or sadness, well. The movie doesn’t have an opening theme, but does have an ending theme ‘Okaa-san no Uta (おかあさんの唄)’ by Ann Sally. Which, just like the other songs, conveys the emotion of the ending of the movie well.
Personally I loved watching this movie and I will definitely watch it again in the future. The story is compelling and I ended up in tears several times, which is something you really have to be in the mood for. I wouldn’t recommend watching Wolf Children when you’re looking for a very happy movie, which is kind of what I expected because it’s a children’s movie. The characters and story are very realistic, despite the fantasy genre, which is something I can always appreciate. It has won many awards, which I didn’t even know until after I watched it, and rightfully so.
If you’d prefer to read about Wolf Children you can read the eponymous manga, which has finished after 16 chapters and 3 volumes.
Studios: Madhouse & Studio Chizu
Started airing: 21th of July 2012