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Teasing the line between fantasy and reality, WOLF CHILDREN is guaranteed to melt your heart.

It’s been over a year since our stalwart freelancer, Nick Tapalansky, relayed , courtesy of Japan Air. Anticipation hasn’t ratcheted up since then, per se (not in the way it might for, say, the next EVA flick), but the movie’s here, at last, and it does live up to its nigh-unanimous kudos. This is a gentle and beautiful story, with truly poignant observations about human (and lupine) nature.

Like the best Ghibli films, its spectacle lies not in dazzling set pieces, but in the hypnotic illusion that Studio Chizu and director Mamoru Hosoda achieve as they render real people in all the cels. These are not larger-than-life personalities, nor broad caricatures, but real people who live and breathe and are full sorts of fragile vulnerabilities.

As the title spells out, WOLF CHILDREN follows two rambunctious werewolf cubs, Yuki and Ame, and their mother, Hana, a young widow grappling to simply understand the indescribable predicament fate has thrown her into. The first twenty odd minutes show her brief love affair with a college classmate, an unnamed wolfman, and the sudden end that befalls their marriage after his feral side tragically collides with the urban world.

Hana initially tries to keep her pups in the city, but prying eyes soon prove to be too much to deal with, and she decides to take the family to a fix-er-upper that’s as far out into the country side as they can get. What initially looks to be a dire situation, with Hana’s savings running out faster than she can get her vegetable garden going, proves to be a welcoming community. Yuki and Ame soon head off to the school, and find various to challenges to the integrity of their secret identities… and questions of whether they’d even want to keep them up.

Of the many qualities to crow about here, the film’s most striking for how it finds such honest humanity in a premise that could’ve started out as the idle curiosity of an over-stimulated genre aficionado. Strangely enough, it brings LET ME IN to mind, taking a very different angle on your traditional horror by showing us the scenes in-between the scenes we normally get. It’s easy to imagine the “wolf father” being the monster in some other story, or the wolf children going on to become the monsters of another tale, so there’s something truly precious and poignant about seeing these fleeting moments within those margins.

“Fleeting moments” is a term to circle back on, actually. One of the movie’s stand-out scenes shows a carefree run through the snow abruptly turning very tense, indeed, when Ame trips into a cold stream and bangs his head under the water. The switchback escalation of danger is so terrifying, it has all the visceral, messy immediacy of a real life accident.

For that moment, and several others, it’s easy to buy the conceit of a grown-up Yuki’s reflective narration and believe - - at least on some level - - that this all might’ve actually happened.

Of course, the trick about magical realism is that it actively draws attention to that fine line between fantasy and reality. For the most part, WOLF CHILDREN handles this rather balance gracefully, but I’d be lying if I said the sight of a woman tenderly kissing a wolf in bed didn’t spur unintentional snickers out of me.

Any deficiencies in the movie center on the baby daddy, to be honest. Perhaps it just came down to his line delivery (the rest of the dub cast was consistently great enough to be taken for granted), but the character’s brooding loner card was pushed hard enough as to invite unfavorable comparisons to TWILIGHT, at times. As cold as it is to say, given the emotional genuine gutpunch given out during his death scene, it’s for the benefit of the whole feature that the Wolfman’s scenes don’t last long.

From another angle, of course, that problem better strengthens the verisimilitude of the movie. Hana may have been a young fool, rushing into a relationship with a man she probably shouldn’t have avoided, and then falling into responsibilities she wasn’t ready for. And you can pretty easily sum up the movie’s “that’s life!” message right there, as watching this plucky young mother’s plight is consistently engaging and moving to behold. Highly recommended.

About the Author

Tom Pinchuk’s a writer and personality with a large number of comics, videos and features like this to his credit. Visit his website - - - - and follow his Twitter: @tompinchuk
The_Legendary_SuperSaiyan_Hulkon Nov. 26, 2013 at 5:11 p.m.

Where can I watch it? O:

takashichea moderator on Nov. 26, 2013 at 5:22 p.m.


You have to buy it. No site is legally streaming it as of now. Wolf Children was premiered at select theaters.

At a press conference held on 18 June 2012, the director Mamoru Hosoda announced that Wolf Children would be released in 34 different countries and territories. This film was first released in France on June 25, 2012, marking its international debut. It was subsequently released in Japan on July 21, 2012. The film made its US premiere at the 2012 Hawaii International Film Festival. The film's Blu-ray and DVD release date for Japan has been confirmed for February 20, 2013.

The Newport Beach Film Festival in Newport Beach, CA, screened Wolf Children on April 27, 2013.

Wolf Children was screened at Animefest 2013 in May in the Czech Republic and at Animafest Zagreb 2013 in June in Croatia

zaldaron Nov. 27, 2013 at 10:51 a.m.

Seems like it is worth buying though, we don't get enough of these sweet magical realism shows with humanity. Will have to see if I can swing this financially.

Kino88on Nov. 28, 2013 at 1:17 p.m.

another treasure from Hosoda, I loved his last two films,

UsachanMaNon Dec. 5, 2013 at 3:39 p.m.

Amazing movie! One of my all-time favorites! :D Will definitely be purchasing the dvd :D Also, itunes is selling it for only about $3.00 :D

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