In honor of Mother’s Day I’m taking a look a film all about a mother’s love.
Full disclosure that this is a review of the dubbed version and no comparisons will be made to the subbed film as I have not seen that one if full yet. That said I’d like to start off by saying that this is a beautiful film. It’s beautiful in terms of look. I love the backdrops of the mountains and the countryside. The character designs are simple and they work perfectly within the setting. I really loved the wolf to human transformations throughout the film, the great lateral tracking shot showing the kids moving up through grade school, and the music is just a treat to listen to all on its own.
The story is beautiful too of showing a mother loving her children despite all the hardship that comes with after the death of their father. This is complicated by the fact as the title says they are wolf children able to change from wolf to human at will and when they are young really don’t know what they will ultimately do with that ability. The film takes a very realistic approach to the fantasy element by having Hana struggle with how to raise her children that have a side to themselves she can’t share. How do you care for them when they’re sick? How do you provide for them we you can’t leave them with a babysitter to go to work because of what they are? “How are wolf children supposed to grow up?” And of course she can’t answer that just as no mother can. You just have to do your best and make it up as you go along. I think my favourite scene for showing this is when she is fixing up the new home they are going to live in. As time goes on she discovers all these wonderful things in the home like the tiled sink, the markings on the windows and the tick marks on the columns that she adds to, to track the heights of Ami and Yuki. Yet we end that montage with her banging all the cuts on her fingers showing that all those wonderful things still come at a cost. She is burdened as a mother, but loves that role fully too.
Beyond showing a wonderful mom in Hana there are arcs for both Ami and Yuki too as they grow older. Ami ultimately chooses to become a wolf contrary to his more timid nature as a kid. Also Yuki chooses the human way over being a wolf even though she was more outgoing and adventurous as a young child and eager to use her wolf form them. It shows that children grow and change over time and their personalities at four and six aren’t the only things that will define them forever and I thought that was great. Also with Hana’s question to Ami when he leaves to become the guardian of the mountain “what have I taught you?” I think she taught him to guard those weaker than you and put them ahead of yourself just by her actions alone. She does everything because she loves them and at the end must learn to let them go and live their own lives.
For me this is a truly wonderful film with beautiful animation, a fun idea that is that thought through, and some wonderful arcs and relationships for very likable characters. I would highly recommend checking out.