Today premieres my very second anime blog post series, A Weekend Flick: On one weekend day, an anime movie gets the spotlight! I’ve wanted to do this post series since the blog’s beginning, so I’m excited to put the idea in action! In honor of Mother’s Day, the first entry in this series will be one of the greatest stories of motherhood: Wolf Children by Mamoru Hosoda.
Wolf Children was one of very first anime films I ever saw. Its impact was very positive on me, as it demonstrated the power of anime storytelling and its ability to capture the human spirit, one woman’s in particular.
Wolf Children: Ame and Yuki
Slice-of-Life | Fantasy | Coming of Age
2012 | 117 minutes | PG-13
Hana meets and falls in love with a werewolf while in college, and the two form a loving family in which she has two half-werewolves, a spunky little girl, Yuki (the narrator of our story,) and a sickly boy, Ame. When tragedy falls, Hana decides to flee alone with her children to the countryside to keep her children’s secret safe from social workers and disturbed city neighbors. Hours from the nearest town, she begins the hard work of building a home, raising food, finding a safe community, and entering the kids in school…without their secret slipping out.
The thing about moms is that it can be hard to truly understand their struggles and perspectives until you either: a) actually become a mom, or b) are shown in such a way that you can relate to what she feels, thinks, and how she is motivated. What I loved about Wolf Children was how Hana was incredibly relatable; she seemed a very real person and not just “a mom.” The story might be titled Wolf Children, but really, this is Hana’s story.
Hana was accessible as both a woman and a character because she wasn’t very different from me at the movie’s beginning. She was a college kid who fell in love, bore tragedy, and gave up her schooling to fully protect her werewolf children. I could truly understand and empathize with her sacrifices, terror, and confusion over raising her shape-shifting children alone. Few mothers in few other stories have truly made me love and feel for them as much as I did for Hana. She was purely human, terribly sweet, and truly pure spirit.
The movie itself is pure magic.
The rest of the characters are endearing and incredibly believable. Yes, a story about werewolves has never felt so real. The children were terribly adorable and full of personality. Yuki, the girl, was a rainbow of emotion and a little mischievous sunbeam. Little Ame was timid, often ill, and struggled with being between his two forms. The supporting cast was enjoyable and dimensional as well. The English dub for this film was wonderful; everyone’s voices meshed well with the story and the characters. They were pleasant to listen to, too.
Everything else was incredibly top-notch. The soundtrack was incredibly moving, especially when it was linked with our dear characters and the amazingly beautiful animation. Oh yes, the animation was breathtaking. The character designs were so adorable, and the Japanese countryside and humongous country house were so beautifully yielded on-screen. The amount of detail to everything was just stunning. I literally wanted to move to the countryside when I finished the film. The animation alone is reason enough to give this film a viewing!
Wolf Children takes place over thirteen years, so we really get to see this family as they live in joy and pain together. Yuki beautifully narrates her youth and touchingly tells her mother’s story, which is very fitting. Hana is an inspiring female character and a true symbol of motherhood and womanhood. To me, this is the perfect Mother’s Day film.
Our mothers might not be raising werewolf children, but they can certainly give abundantly and struggle with their own battles. Heavens, we know we probably gave them hell. I myself was a bit like Yuki, full of energy, making messes, and incredibly vocal. I’m sure I wore my mom out. So, thank you, Mom, for all you did and still do for me. You’re my own Hana. Someday, I hope I can be a Hana too.
Happy Mother’s Day.