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Wolf Children Review: Mamoru Hosoda’s latest is nothing short of Brilliant

Mamoru Hosoda is not the next Hayao Miyazaki, but another powerful and distinctive voice in the anime industry and his latest film, Wolf Children (Okami Kodomo no Ame toYuki), is bonafide proof of this. The film is centered around a young, 19 year old girl named Hana, who is studying at a university in Tokyo, to where she becomes attracted to a young man that sits in on her classes. As she begins to befriend him and eventually starts dating the mysterious stranger, she shortly learns that he's actually part human and part Honshu wolf, a wolf that has gone extinct in Japan. Even after learning the startling news, Hana chooses to remain with him and eventually bears his two children, a girl named Yuki and a boy named Ame. While the children are growing up in the urban environment, Hana begins to feel as though it is too much to raise them in the city and decides to move to the countryside, in order to give them the choice of becoming wolves, or to remain as a human. With this in place, Mamoru Hosoda begins to tell a incredible tale of family, growing pains and magical realism, in the guise of Wolf Children.   Wolf Children_01   While many of the previous works of Hosoda are centered around family, Wolf Children just feels a lot more personal, through showing Hana's struggles as a mother and each of the children having to deal with both their identities as wolves and humans. There's a point where one of the kids gets very sick and Hana goes out and searches for a doctor, but is caught between taking them to a hospital or the veterinarian. While its certainly a hilarious moment, I felt as though in that instant, the scene focused exactly on the difficulty of motherhood and how there could be conflicted feelings of how to take care of one's child. While we all have parents that have raised us in certain ways, we can never know how to truly take care of someone that we're responsible for, until it happens to us. With Hana, regardless of the fact that her children are very much different than other kids, she must learn as she goes along and endures trials and tribulations that most single parents do, in order to make a life worth living for her children.   Wolf Children_02   The lives that both children lead, converge into plot elements and thematic elements that gives credence to how far Hosoda's come as a director and how he distinguishes himself apart from Miyazaki. Summer Wars is a fine example of how he typically used family and growing up, but in Wolf Children, he illustrates the difficulty of motherhood and the transition from childhood to adolescence, in his three main characters. It is in this that I find that he's distinctively different from Miyazaki, in that while he's using the template of fairy tale-like imagery, Hosoda is trying to tell much more personal stories, that anyone one person can relate to. Where Miyazaki had illustrated that war is no good for mankind in Nausicaa, Hosoda shows that life can be difficult, but is filled with awe inspiring moments and happiness that any single family can enjoy. Another way that illustrates how Hosoda's work has matured, is how he uses a variety of film elements to tell his story, in order to place the audience in the right mood or feeling. From jump cuts to nature, which would elaborate on some of the children's actions, to the use of excellent sound design, in order to show the clash between city life and the countryside. Its utilizing elements like these in order to convey a story, that shows a master at work, in which Hosoda most certainly is.   Wolf Children_03   The English dub by Funimation, was hands down, one of the best English dubs I've heard all year. From Colleen Clinkenbeard's Hana, to the late Jerry Russell's performance of Mr. Nirasaki, every single English cast member is spot on and deserves to be heard, no matter how much of a purist you are for original language tracks. The film uses both 2D and 3D animation effectively, where in cityscapes, full of people, 3D is used and when showing smaller intimate scenes with characters, traditional animation is used. The script from Hosoda and screenwriter Satoko Okudera is extremely well done and even though the film feels a bit long, a majority of the pacing and the payoff for all three character arcs are fulfilling and satisfying to no end. I implore you, even if you don't love anime, that the world and characters presented in this film transcend the typical stereotypes and present something that anyone and everyone can relate to. Wolf Children is now available on Blu-Ray and DVD from Funimation.
  • Wonderful and Realistic Characters
  • Beautiful Animation
  • Themes that anyone can relate to
  • A bit lengthy


Meet the Author

About / Bio
Ruben Rosario is the head editor of the Movie Department at Entertainment Fuse. He co-hosts The Plot Hole, with Simon Brookfield and has a major love for cinema, comics and anime.

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