Wolf Children Review

wolfchildrenhdrYou can claim a show is great, even amazing.  How often can you claim a show is perfect?  A show that upon completing, you sit there and say, “I wouldn’t change a thing?”  It’s rare, too rare these days.  If you’re reading this, then you can probably guess what is to transpire in this review, but stick with it.  I want you to know why.

Story
Wolf Children starts off with the narration of a child talking about their mother, Hana.  Hana is your standard young woman going to a university like any other.  By some chance, Hana meets and falls in love with an interesting man who at some point reveals that he’s the last remaining descendant of wolf people.  People that can transform from man to wolf by choice.

wolfchildren1The narration quickly corrects the myth of wolf people, this isn’t your werewolf story, or big bad wolf story.  This is just a regular run of the mill person seeking to live a life anyone else would dream of.  Have a home, have a family, fill a bookshelf.

Despite the shock, Hana still loves him, and they soon bear 2 children together.  A girl named Yuki and a boy named Ame.  Like their father, they too have the ability to be wolf or human.  Quite a struggle for a mother to raise, even more so as Hana soon after having Ame, ends up separated from the father.  This leaves Hana to now raise two wolf children by herself.

That’s the story as far as I’d like to mention, to avoid mentioning anything that would take from the experience.  The story from this early point transitions into Hana dealing with motherhood, giving the children a right to live how they wish, and keeping the secrete left to her guide.

It’s a truly great story.  Hana herself is a strong character having amazing enduring qualities that shine throughout the entire show.  Again, it’s a simple single mother concept, but throwing in the wolf children makes it all the more engaging and heart warming.  Yuki was a spitfire blast and I truly loved her spirit, especially early own.  Ame on the otherhand gave a stark contrasting perspective from her sister that manages to really hit all of the notes you’d want to see in the end.

wolfchildren2As I mentioned earlier, Wolf Children manages to do one fantastic thing.  In the end sitting in front of the scrolling cast I knew one thing, “I wouldn’t change a thing.”  It was perfectly told.  Using an example of Forest Gump, it tells you a life story and you’re invited in to see.  No character tropes, no forced archetypes.  It’s take it or leave it, no excuses.  Make no mistake however as you’ll love it.

Animation
To be honest, I struggled with Wolf Children at first.  It had a very simple character style that didn’t set with me at first.  However over time I grew to love it.  The edges and simple design leaves for a more warm feeling to the storytelling.  Hana feels like a mother you want to give a big hug to.  Yuki and Ame are absolutely adorable and cheek pinch inviting.   The style also lends well to the animation, giving very smooth motion in fast parts of the show.  I really liked how the children would change so fluently to wolves during a running scene.

Don’t sell the animation short just due to my mention of simple design, because the world in which they live in is deep and rich.  Lovely forests span for miles as they dart through life given snow and lush forests.  A scene involving a river looks great and believable.  Then there’s the snow sliding scene, beautiful.

Sound
wolfchildren3Another part in which Wolf Children succeeds.  At parts, the music queues sweet melodies sung by a mother to a child.  At other points, it ramps up into a ocestrial masterpiece to drive a fast pace moment of emotion and action.  It’s stuff of Fantasia proportions, striking loud cords at key points in the moment.

The voice work is also well done.  In Japanese, the characters exhibited great emotion when the time was right and I can’t help but love Yuki’s tantrums as she demands something from Hana.  In English, the work is better than expected.  They really managed to get some solid voice actors to play the part.  My only complaint is a few lines of translation that didn’t drive home certain points as much as in the original language translations.

Conclusion
What more can I say that hasn’t been said before.  Wolf Children is a great movie that should be watched by everyone.  It’s a unique, beautiful story that I can’t recommend enough.  Great story, great characters, beautiful music, warm and rich visuals.  Don’t just watch it, buy it.  This is storytelling we must encourage!

VERDICT: 5 / 5

Pros:

  • Great storytelling
  • Wonderful dynamic characters
  • Heart warming ending

Cons:

  • Couple parts where character design looked off
  • Use of CG extras in crowded cities
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Co-Founder of OtakuSpirit.com and Co-Host of the OtakuSpirit Animecast. A huge fan of anime since the early 1990s, consuming over 800 shows. While he's late to the collecting scene, he's found a lot of joy in filling his DVD/Blu-ray collection as well as collecting figures. Once a week, he posts unboxing and feature videos on anime goods to YouTube.