Wolf Children resonated really well with me. I can’t remember the last time a movie had me bawling my eyes out. By the way, there will be spoilers.
Starting off with an unusual but sweet love story, Wolf Children creates a relaxed, peaceful setting in the big city. The mood is so lighthearted eventually you begin suspecting something terrible is going to happen. And just as the second love child is born, the father dies and the mother, Hana, is left all by herself.
Watching Hana struggle in the city was the first heartbreaking part for me, because I could relate so much. I personally grew up without a father, and seeing Hana’s trials made me sympathise even more with single mothers. I also hold a great deal of respect and admiration for those who love their children so much they are willing to do anything to make them happy (as it should be). So I shed a few tears for Hana as the love of her life was ripped away, and her children grew almost too wild to control.
At first I thought their move to the middle of nowhere was a mistake. How were the children supposed to learn important skills like reading and socialising? At the same time, hearing them laugh, and seeing them play in the woods filled my heart with joy. No one can stop them from being who they truly are. Freedom is a human, and animal, desire. To be honest though, I wasn’t much entertained by this part, I found myself pausing up to several times when my attention span ran out. Again, everything seemed too good to be true.
When Yuki goes to school, and makes friends and basically turns into a completely normal girl, I wasn’t sure what to think. That girl who was so untamed, so fierce, so alive, is formed by her surroundings into what is considered normal, I felt as if she was losing herself. I clenched my fists together during the scene with her and Souhei, empathising with her alienation as if it was my own childhood. However, children always manages to sort these issues out.
Ame, the younger brother, who in the beginning is an insecure, adorable little boy, grows to love the nature. And this is the worst part. He stops going to school, and at one point I was asking myself what he will be good for in society, scared of knowing the answer. There’s no place for him. He never makes any friends, and for a child that must be an awful situation to be in. So he seeks refuge in a different world, a “society” where everyone has their own role to fulfil.
When Hana runs into the woods looking for her missing son, I was sure she was dying. During her reunion with the father, the tears trickled down my cheeks. But it was in the last scene with Ame, the one where he leaves her in order to live as a wolf, that I was silently sobbing over this lost love. Because what about family? I know the pain of being left behind by an uncaring parent, but what a greater loss it must be to have the child you raised with love and care abandon you.
The son, Ame, became a true wolf, despite his initial fright and attachment to his mother. The daughter, Yuki, chose the human road and lived among other people. And I’m left crying in the darkness of my room, demanding a solution where they could have done both. Asking no one in particular, if there isn’t any way that they could have stayed true to who they were, part human and part wolf, instead of being forced to choose one over the other.
Is this the cruel and unfair representation of life? You can’t have the best of both worlds? I wish there had been a better way to end this, but I realise it would not have been the same masterpiece if there was. Or perhaps I was just feeling really low when watching this film. I suppose it’s been a rough day.