48 hours ago, Wolf Children was just a movie I had heard about through the grapevines. That quickly changed when I stumbled upon a clip from the film, showcasing main character, a young mother, taking care of her two form-changing children. Before our very eyes, a hyperactive toddler and a crying infant seamlessly switch between human and wolf, only to raise different kinds of havoc in each form. However, it was the mother’s unwavering good humor that left me wanting more.
Hana is a college student living by herself in a small apartment in Tokyo. She spends her days working part-time at a dry cleaners and studying hard to keep her scholarship. That is until she spots a strange, quiet man studying without a textbook during class. After a few attempts, Hana manages to form a friendship with the stranger, finding out that he isn’t really a student. However, that isn’t the only thing Hana learns about her soon-to-be husband, as he reveals one night that he’s the lone survivor of a long line of Japanese wolves.
His untimely death leaves Hana in charge of their two wolf children. The challenge Hana must face extends beyond being a widow and a single mother. She now has to raise two children who are half human and half wolf without the guidance of her husband (the only person who knew how to care for wolves). Does she take them to the vet or to the pediatrician when they’re sick? Does she raise them in the woods or make them go to school? In this way, Wolf Children raises important questions of identity, family relationships, and what happens as every member of a family nucleus grows and learns in disparate ways.
Why You Should Watch It
Wolf Children is reminiscent of some of the best Studio Ghibli films, but brings its own flavor to the table. It mixes Japanese mythology with a raw, human experience. It is slice of life at its finest, which is a warning in and of itself. Don’t expect the ending to tie all loose ends for you. Instead, the story of these three wonderful characters will release you, letting the spring breeze carry you back to your own reality.
Mamoru Hosoda, who also directed Summer Wars and The Girl Who Leapt Through Time, concocts the most delectable mix of fantastical elements and human emotion, delivering a brilliant work of magical realism that will allow you to full-heartedly believe in the plot’s dynamics. No time is wasted accepting or understanding the wolf mythology. Instead, we willingly follow this family’s story, hoping, even 110 minutes in, that we’re not nearing the end.