Back to Wolf Children!
Tolja I’d come back to it.
What I love most about this movie is that it’s exactly the kind of story I’ve been getting more and more interested in over the years. It doesn’t follow the tradition dramatic structure of Rising Action, Turning Point, Falling Action, and Climax.
The way I think of the plot in my head is separated into three parts:
Part 1) Woman meets shapeshifting wolf guy, falls in love, has two wolf kids, shapeshifting wolf guy dies horribly
Part 2) Woman moves to a ramshackle house in the countryside with her kids to avoid prying eyes, is gradually accepted into the community
Part 3) Kids steadily grow up, daughter finds her place as a human, son finds his place as a wolf
I have a number of favorite scenes in the movie, but I think this is one of a few rare instances where I’d prefer to watch it start to finish every time I rewatch it. With some movies, I can watch them in pieces. Watch twenty minutes here or there as I’m doing other things. But with this movie I actually want to focus on only this. Miyazaki movies are like that with me, too. Spirited Away is one of my favorite movies and it has earned every iota of my attention span.
Recently I saw Saving Mr. Banks on a plane. I have mixed feelings about the movie, both for the tweaks it made to history and the way it portrayed Writer vs. Corporation with the emphasis of good heavily weighted on the corporation’s side, but there’s one line that’s stuck with me. The character Travers throws the script of Mary Poppins out the window and demands, “Where’s the heart?“
That, I think, is what Wolf Children has in spades. This movie had me in tears more than once, and I loved the effort they put into showing Hana mature as a mother. But it also showed her devotion to herself. From the beginning of the movie, she is simply portrayed as a kind person. She isn’t overly awkward or comically ditzy. She’s a college girl with an incredible sense of composure.
And she only gets stronger from that point on. She has a character arc, of course, but it’s not as drastic as it could have been, and I think that makes it a more realistic movie. She begins the story in a comfortable life, and she’s transformed into a deeply strong person by moving into a more challenging life. She meets obstacles, breathes in deep, and looks for an alternate route or some way over those obstacles. In that way, she’s an easily-relatable role model.
I’ll take back what I said earlier about only watching it start to finish – I could watch the middle part over and over: from the moment Hana and her kids arrive in the countryside until Yuki starts school, that’s my favorite part. It reminds me of the opening of Totoro, that calm, domestic feeling. I love seeing that sense of tranquility portrayed in stories.
I have uncovered another reason why Hosoda Mamoru is an excellent human person.
He also worked on the movie for Yuu Yuu Hakusho.
…Hands up if you didn’t expect this review to end with a spirit gun.