Starring: Aoi Miyazaki, Haru Kuroki, Yukito Nishii
Director: Mamoru Hosoda
Running Time: 117 mins
Wolf Children is a Japanese film about a young woman who falls in love with a mysterious man who turns out to be a werewolf. Years later, after he dies in an accident, she is forced to move to the countryside and bring up her two wolf children.
Despite a very shaky start, I really warmed to Wolf Children. It’s a beautifully animated film with a tender and emotional story that, whilst not always as powerful as it tries to be, had me engrossed right to the end. It’s not necessarily as family-friendly as some of Studio Ghibli’s films, but I was impressed to see that Wolf Children mixes impressive emotional drama with a story that anyone of any age can genuinely relate to.
But before I get into why I did eventually like this film, I want to warn you about the first twenty minutes. Serving as background to why the wolf children are living in the countryside with their single mother, the opening act looks at the relationship between the mother and the werewolf she falls in love with. Only it’s not quite as romantic as it should have been, and feels painfully like a rip-off of Twilight.
For the first twenty minutes, I was totally unimpressed by this film, as it only moved through the paces of any typical tween romantic drama, and didn’t offer anything particularly outstanding to get me emotionally engrossed in the relationship between the two, meaning that when the father dies early on (not a spoiler), I really didn’t feel anything.
Fortunately, however, the remainder of Wolf Children is significantly better than the opening act. In fact, the rest of the film is pretty fantastic. For one, the crisp animation is absolutely beautiful to look at right the way through, with stunning panoramas of the mountainous countryside, drawn in vibrant colours and almost photo-realistic detail.
The animation in this film gives it a wonderful sense of calm and composure, which really helps to cement the notion that this isn’t just a young adult story about growing up and being different to everyone else, but is genuinely a story that can be pleasant for all to behold.
I was absolutely delighted to see that the film simply got better with every next scene. After a poor first impression, the way Wolf Children managed to get me back on side was brilliant, and that’s most significantly down to the way that it looks at three different characters in three separate lights.
It sounds simple, but many films don’t give various different lead characters the space in a story that they need and deserve. However, in Wolf Children, we have a story about how the mother has to cope with bringing up her children alone (with the added issue that they’re werewolves), how the daughter has to cope with peer pressure at school in order to fit in with the humans, and how the son wants to live his own life and go against what his mother and sister are telling him.
As a result, you not only get one enthralling story, but three separate but all thoroughly captivating plots with excellent emotional depth and tenderness, making for a genuinely engrossing watch wherever you look that just gets better and better as the film goes on, and that’s why Wolf Children gets a 7.7 from me.