Film #74: Wolf Children (2012)

07__aka: おおかみこどもの雨と雪 (Ōkami kodomo no Ame to Yuki)
directed by: Hosoda Mamoru (細田守)
length: 117 minutes
language: Japanese
watched on: 23 December 2012

This film was something I watched on a whim on the plane back to the UK. It seems that planes are often the only time when I have access to recent Japanese films with English subtitles, so I took advantage of that. This film was by the same group as “The Girl Who Leapt Through Time”, a film I watched a couple of years ago, which was a splinter from Studio Ghibli, and the artistic style is certainly informed by that of Miyazaki.

In the story, the main character, the mother, falls in love with a werewolf, who is later killed. The two children, named Ame and Yuki, ie. Rain and Snow after the weather during which they were born, are also half-wolf. The mother decides to move to the country after she finds it unbearable to hide their wolf status from the general public, and they end up in a remote old-style Japanese farmhouse. Then the children grow up.

Although nominally the film is about the wolf children, it very much focuses on the mother. We see how the children’s characters diverge over the course of the movie, but we are made to care about the mother more than them, through the way she reacts to all the changes going on around her, and we see her strengthening her own character as time goes by.

The scenery is fantastic, and it makes me almost want to go and live in the country, but for the fact that I’d have no job and wouldn’t be able to afford it. The children’s characters are very simplistic; the girl is the precocious, excitable one, and the boy is the quiet, timid one, and this sort of changes throughout the movie – because the girl is more influenced by her peers and enjoys social interaction, she becomes beaten down by peer pressure, while the boy becomes more independent and flighty (can you guess which one will stay a wolf and which will stay a human?). To some extent they reminded me of my own siblings (my sister and I are somewhat like the girl while the boy is very much like my brother), and it was that kind of personal connection that made me like the movie.

I don’t know when or if it’s going to come out in the west, but if you’re looking for an alternative to Studio Ghibli, this film is a good example of something you could try.


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