WOLF CHILDREN (Okami kodomo no ame to yuki) (2012)

Genre: Animation
Mamoru Hosoda
Cast: Aoi Miyazaki, Takao Osawa, Kumiko Asô, Megumi Hayashibara, Takuma Hiraoka, Amon Kabe, Tomie Kataoka, Haru Kuroki, Tadashi Nakamura
RunTime: 1 hr 57 mins
Rating: PG13 (Brief Nudity)
Released By: Encore Films & Filmgarde
Official Website: www.encorefilms.com/wolfchildren

Opening Day: 6 September 2012

Synopsis:  Hana, a nineteen-year-old college student, falls in love with a man only for him to reveal his secret; he is a Wolf Man. Eventually the couple bear two children together; a son and daughter they name Ame and Yuki who both inherit the ability to transform into wolves from their father. When the man Hana fell in love with suddenly dies, she makes the decision to move to a rural town isolated from society to continue raising the children in protection. But as the children grow up, they will have to make a choice: whether to live as a human or a wolf. And Hana too, she must make a decision soon. How will she watch over her two wolf children as they make their choices?

Movie Review:

It’s quite fortunate for Mamoru Hosoda’s latest work “Wolf Children” or the international titled “The Wolf Children Ame and Yuki” to receive a theatrical release locally consider the prestigious Studio Ghibli productions strangely lacked the privilege to grace the big screen.

Hosoda’s who is known for his “The Girl Who Leapt Through Time” and “Summer Wars” wrote and direct this modern day fairytale about a strong will woman raising her two small children who are hybrids of a human and a wolf. The story begins with a young college student who met a wolfman and subsequently falls in love with him. When the wolfman suddenly dies, the woman must raise her two special kids on her own and the recurring theme of choosing their lives as a wolf or human becomes the anchor of this anime.

Even though Hosoda’s story has a fable theme, it’s actually less complex than his previous works. It doesn’t linger on the supernatural, magic or a deep analysis of the Wolfman if you must know, for the most part the scenes focused solely on the single mother and the kids and their challenging lives in our world. Part of the charm lies in the humour for example a scene which shows the mother desperately deciding whether to bring her sick kid to a clinic or a vet is both heartening and amusing. And listening to the mother trying hard to explain to them the consequences of transforming from humans to wolves form using simple crayons drawing boards tell us that good storytelling doesn’t require dazzling visuals to bring a point across.  

While CG has virtually overtaken most of the animations seen in theaters, “Wolf Children” retains the beauty of hand-drawn tactics especially the watercolors-like backdrops. The sights of lush mountains, forest, waterfalls and snowy countryside is amazing. Together with a touching score by Takagi Masakatsu, it’s a wonderful treat for the senses.

Mamoru Hosoda has been frequently compared with the great anime master, Hayao Miyazaki but I guess Hosoda has developed a voice of his own with the release of his third solo effort. 

Movie Rating:

(Wondrous storytelling and picturesque artwork makes watching Wolf Children an endearing experience)

Review by Linus Tee

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