Hana (Aoi Miyazaki) works hard to balance her job and her studies at university. At uni, she meets a man, they fall in love and have two children – Yuki (Haru Kuroki) and Ame (Yukito Nishii). But there is something special about him: he is a wolfman, and so Yuki and Ame also are half-wolf. And then one day, the father doesn’t return and Hana is left alone with two children she has to take care of all of her own since nobody can know their secret.
Oh boy, do I have ISSUES with this movie! Not only does it tell its story with a megaphone, no matter whether it should be whispering at the moment or maybe talking at a normal voice, the message it screams out that way is completely offensive to women.
Here’s the thing. Wolf Children pretends like its an empowering movie about this strong woman who takes care of her children against all adversity. But the fact is that Hana drops everything – her wishes, her personality, her life plans – the minute the Wolfman appears (who never even gets a name) and sacrifices it all for him and her children. And self-sacrifice like that might be noble and all, but it is not empowering. A woman is not strong because she gives everything up for her children, who then pretty much treat her like shit and don’t even say thank you. And she always gets approval from the men around her for all of her decisions.
Plus, when they are children, Yuki (the girl) gets to be the wild one who relishes her wolf and isn’t scared – in short, she gets to be a tomboy, while Ame (the boy) is more insecure and shows more typically “girly” traits. But, don’t worry – when they become teenagers everything straightens itself out and the correct gender/sex-alignment is observed. Phew! That was a close call!
And Hosoda has to be one of the most heavy-handed directors to ever “grace” this earth. The way the Wolfman is established as the romantic hero? He helps a kid up that stumbles which shows that he is a loving guy even though until then he has been nothing but abrasive to Hana (which of course only means that she has to try harder to get to him). The way they show that Hana is absolutely accepting of his animal side? FURRY SEX! Yahay! *headdesk* And the way to tell Hana’s story? No, we don’t just let the movie speak for itself. We also won’t let Hana tell her own story. No, nothing better than having Yuki consistently voice-overing.
And not even the animation is that good (and it bugged the hell out of me that when the wolf children changed, they wore their clothes tied around their necks. It just doesn’t make sense).
Really, I must be missing something essential, as there is praise all over for Mamoru Hosoda. But I didn’t get it with Summer Wars and I certainly don’t get it here.
Summarising: Fuck no.