Movie Review: The Wolf Children Ame and Yuki

Posted on June 19, 2013

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The Wolf Children Ame and Yuki is a 2012 anime film directed by Mamoru Hosoda, and produced by Studio Chizu and Madhouse. This movie bagged a number of awards after its release, and for a pretty good reason: it is easily one of the best shows of 2012. After watching the film, I am once again reminded just how magical anime can be. Read on (well, if you want to) to know why this is so.

Plot: 9.5/10

While not doing anything revolutionary strictly in terms of the plot elements used in the film, it’s how they were used that made this movie magical and inspiring in more ways than one. The story focuses on Hana, a college student, who fell in love with a wolf-man. Their relationship bore two children; Ame and Yuki, both of whom are half-wolf and half-human, like their father. However, after a tragedy that claimed the father’s life early in the movie, Hana decides, against all odds, to raise her wolf children on her own. The movie then shows us the struggles of Hana’s family as she deals with protecting Ame and Yuki from society’s judging eyes, and giving her children a good life where they can be whatever they want to be (literally and figuratively). It’s easy to deduce from here that the movie’s hugely concerned with maternal love; and it has done a spectacular job in portraying that.

Mothers can easily relate to Hana as the film shows her everyday hardships in raising two kids all by herself, in a realistic and artistic manner. It gives you that warm, fuzzy feeling when watching a “slice of life” anime, despite the involvement of mythical creatures in the plot. We also get to see Ame and Yuki as they grow up and start to question things, like what pretty much any kid would do. Every scene in the show was made to look as natural and realistic as possible, as if the creators are trying to reconcile reality with magical elements, so as to highlight the little details in our childhoods that are usually taken for granted; discrimination, being ashamed of one’s self, difficulty in adjusting to a new environment, the desire to be “normal” and fully accepted, but most importantly, how much children are loved by their mothers. Of course, there are cases where real-life children are abused by their mothers, but you get what I mean.

Given these developments, aside from a mother’s love, the movie also touches on children’s struggle to forge his/her own identity, to find a place or a group or people where she feels comfortable with, where she belongs, which is usually not given much attention nowadays. The movie does a good job in highlighting such small, mundane everyday-life conflicts in a creative manner, giving them an artistic spark despite their normality. Another point in the story worth praising is the part where Ame and Yuki find themselves on diverging paths, with their mother trying her best to reach out to both kids. It’s a string of emotional scenes that will make your heart melt for the wolf children as they try to find their own brand of happiness, taking into account their real nature. You also can’t help but cheer Hana on as she desperately tries to be a good mother to two fundamentally different children; a herculean task, which the movie portrays beautifully. Aside from internal conflicts that naturally beset children, we are also reminded just how incredibly hard it is to be a mother, which is usually ignored as people endlessly complain of stress from office work and similar stuff. In a way, Wolf Children Ame and Yuki helps us to keep our feet on the ground and put things into perspective; there are small details in the bigger picture of life that deserve our full attention.

Some viewers might point out that the ending, while heartwarming and inspiring, might be a little “predictable.” If you pay close attention to the plot development in the middle of the film, its ending might very well be predictable, but then the movie totally isn’t about unpredictability or suspense or mystery; it’s simply about that golden relationship between a mother and her children, and how everybody in that relationship works to preserve the bond. You may know what the ending would be, but the beauty in the film lies on how the plot arrives there. Perhaps my only complaint about the film is the utter lack of communication between Ame and Yuki at the latter part of the film; I mean, they’re siblings, so I was expecting something more between the two of them before the film ended.

It’s things like Wolf Children Ame and Yuki that restore your faith in humanity, especially mothers. It is also a sniff of fresh air from today’s entertainment, where myths and its host of magical creatures are unnecessarily sexualized to cater to the teenage population *cough, Twilight, cough*.

Character Setup: 9.5/10

Character development is amazing and painstakingly detailed. We see Hana transform from a relatively carefree student to a loving, responsible mother, and that character transformation still brings a smile to my face. However, the real stars of character development in the story are, of course, Ame and Yuki. In a bildungsroman-esque story-telling, we vividly witness the two kids grow, physically, psychologically and morally, as they traverse different paths in pursuit of different goals. We see their love for each other, we see them play together, we see them fight, and ultimately, how they let each other choose their own destinies. Everything here conveys an emotional value worth acknowledging as the movie invests on making the characters grow into the viewer through excellent character development. My only problem in the film is how the creators could have done better in showing more of Ame’s chosen path; but then, I admit Yuki’s is the more interesting, story-wise. Also, in the greater scale of things, the strong points of the film greatly offset this small flaw.

Art: 10/10

Wolf Children Ame and Yuki showcases breathtaking art. The background art looks very¬†realistic, thanks to its heavy detail. It greatly helps in reinforcing the realistic, “slice of life” nature of the movie. The characters are also pleasing to look at, thanks to their greatly drawn features and smooth animation. Perhaps some anime fans might recognize the art as reminiscent of the likes of Shinji Ikari and Rei Ayanami. It makes perfect sense, since character design was handled by Yoshiyuki Sadamoto of Neon Genesis Evangelion. In any case, watching the film in its entirety is a visual treat, thanks to its captivating art.

Sound: 10/10

The film’s excellent art is matched by an excellent soundtrack. The creators did a good job making music that perfectly complements the calming and close-to-nature aura of the movie. I recommend that you listen to the film’s ending theme, Okaasan no Uta, which is basically about a mother’s sentiments concerning her child. The song is simply beautiful.

Replayable? Not really.

Nothing much in the movie will give you a reason to watch the film several times, unless you just want to appreciate its art, or to watch it with a close friend.

Overall: 9.5/10

What Wolf Children Ame and Yuki offers to the viewer easily justifies the awards it received. The film is a heartwarming, visually captivating testament to a mother’s inner strength and undying love, as well as a child’s courage and inspiring determination to choose his/her own path in this world. Most importantly, the movie pays homage to how these two people interact in life; how a kid is loved and taken care of by his/her mother, how a mother bids farewell to her beloved child who’s about to take on the world, and in the end, how a mother is always there for her child no matter what. All these things give the film its unforgettable charm. Watching Wolf Children Ame and Yuki, simply put, is an enchanting experience.

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Posted in: Anime