Film Review: Wolf Children

Mamoru Hasoda’s Wolf Children has the allusion of a fantasy film, but in reality the focus is elsewhere. The anime film is an entertaining watch, if not fully engaging.

Hana, a student at Tokyo University, is intrigued by a man who sits in on her lectures but is not a registered student. As the pair get to know each other, they fall in love. He then reveals to her that he is a wolf-man, with the blood of a wolf and a man, and the last of his species…

Wolf Children has the expectation of a fantasy film. After all, the film is about the last remaining wolf-man, a hybrid of the two species. Furthermore the two children born to Hana have the same condition. Despite this, Wolf Children is more of a coming of age story than anything else.

Hasoda’s film concentrates on the period in which the children grow up, chronicling the difficult decisions of their mother and the choice that Yuki and Ame have to face. While there are certainly elements of fantasy at play, the emphasis lies on the maturation of the children and the relationships they have with their mother and each other.

At almost two hours, Wolf Children takes its time in telling the tale. The story unfolds at a leisurely pace. On one or two occasions, the film feels like it is dragging. However it recovers sufficiently for a decent final quarter. Colours are bright, but the animation offers nothing new.

Wolf Children is a tale of maturation wrapped up in fantasy dressing. An interesting enough film, but not a particularly memorable one.

Wolf Children is being screened at the London Film Festival in October 2012