Family struggle and hope eternal as a storyline are nothing new, but the familiarity and relatability of this storyline make it loveable. Wolf Children is such a story that brings together the themes of love, sacrifice, and determination.
Wolf Children, co-written and directed by Mamoru Hosoda (who also created “The Girl Who Leapt Through Time”), is an interesting tale, told in a one-of-a-kind fashion that looks affectionate, bleak, and bizarre in equal measures.
As the title suggests, this is a tale about the obstacles of bringing up children who are literally half-wolf, half-human, not about having children who are metaphorical wild animals. Read on to learn more about the film’s storyline.
Beginning of a Family and Their Struggles
The story begins with Hana and a brooding young man that catches her eye at Tokyo University. The man discloses that he is capable of becoming a wolf, and later they have two wolf children: a daughter, Yuki, and a son, Ame.
While hunting for food for the children, their father is killed in an accident. It is challenging for Hana to continue living as a single mother; Yuki and Ame switch between their human and wolf forms all the time and Hana must hide them.
Hana moves the family away from intruding neighbors to the countryside. She does this after she gets noise complaints and a visit from social workers worried that the children have not had vaccinations.
She is working hard to fix a crumbling home but is struggling to sustain the family. She learns to farm properly and becomes acquainted with some of the locals with the aid of a stern old man called Nirasaki.
The Wolf Children: Yuki and Ame
One winter day after attempting to catch a kingfisher, Ame nearly drowns in a river, but Yuki rescues him, and Ame becomes more confident in his wolf skills. Yuki begs her mother to let her, like other girls, go to school.
On the premise that Yuki keeps her wolf identity hidden, Hana agrees. Yuki makes friends at school soon. Meanwhile, Ame is more active in the forest and receives lessons about life in the wild from an old fox.
Yuki’s class welcomes a new transfer student, Sōhei, in fourth grade, who learns something is different about her. Yuki becomes furious as he pursues and harasses her, changes into a wolf, and accidentally injures him, causing a scar on his right ear.
Sōhei tells them that a wolf assaulted him during a meeting with their parents and teachers, absolving Yuki of the fault. A violent storm two years later, closing school early, and Ame runs into the forest to rescue someone and Hana follows.
Wolf Children Finding Their Own Paths
The other kids are picked up by their parents and Yuki and Sōhei are left behind. Yuki tells Sōhei that she’s capable of turning into a wolf, and it was she who actually attacked him. He tells her that he knew already and he vows to protect her secret.
She trips and falls unconsciously as Hana looks for Ame. She catches a vision of the father of the children, who assures her that Yuki and Ame will find their own paths and that she has taught them well.
Ame finds and brings Hana to safety. She wakes up to see Ame turn into a wolf completely and flee into the mountains. She understands that he has followed his own course and accepts his farewell happily, though tearfully.
A year later, Yuki leaves home to move into the dormitory of a junior high school. In the forest, Ame’s wolf howls are heard far and wide. Hana, now living alone, recalls that it was like a fairy tale to raise her wolf children, and feels happy to have taught them well.
It’s interesting to see the normal tropes of parenting in Wolf Children. You see the challenge of letting go, and the fear over whether your children can find their place in the world.
This anime is considered worth watching not because of its emphasis on fantasy but on the use of fantasy elements to mirror real-world scenarios, which, in this case, is the struggle of having children.