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Reel Asian Film Festival Review: Wolf Children

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Directed by Mamoru Hosoda

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The director of The Girl Who Leapt Through Time and Summer Wars brings us a charming slice of life tale that explores themes of nature vs. nurture, family and growing up. This story revolves around Hana, a Tokyo college student who falls in love with a man that has Wolf blood, as well as Human blood in him. When his secret is revealed, Hana is not afraid of him and tells him “you’re you”. They soon have two children Yuki and Ame, who inherit their father’s power to change into a wolf at will or in times of stress.

Tragedy strikes and Hana is forced to bring the children up alone and moves the family to a remote mountain village. As the children grow older, they must choose to live life as either a Human or a Wolf. The boisterous Yuki enjoys school and makes lots of friends, leaning towards the Human world, whereas the younger and shyer Ame is drawn to the forest in the mountains surrounding their home.

Hana is resourceful and will do anything for her children, in moments that will make audiences laugh and cry in equal measure. For instance, in one particularly amusing scene, Hana has to decide whether Yuki is to be treated by a vet or a doctor when she is sick.

Hana’s resilience is profound and she never gives up, no matter what life throws at her. It is refreshing to see a children’s story told from a parent’s perspective as opposed to that of a child. It is also refreshing to see a children’s film portray some aspects of life in a very down-to-earth manner. For example, there is a scene that shows Hana emptying her stomach into a sick bowl due to being pregnant. Pregnancy is not glamorized and instead portrayed as it is in life — tough.

As with most movies in the slice of life genre, the ending of Wolf Children is a little too abrupt and may leave some viewers cold. Overall, it is an enjoyable, touching movie for all ages, but ultimately it is a little too conventional and predictable to be considered great.

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Rating: C+

By: Hannah Jinman


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