After a night of fighting off the flu, I was well enough to hit the festival yet again. My plans were to make three different bits of cinema. Well, work got in the way of the best laid plans of part-time film critics and I could only make one screening. So I arrived at the Angelika just in time to catch a screening of Wolf Children, a film I knew nothing about.
Before the movie started, the programmer let the audience know that the film we were about to see won the Japanese version of the Oscar for best Anime Feature and that it was soon to be released on DVD. After the screen, my first thought was that it is a shame if this film is not shown on a big screen. It is a massively beautiful work of sight and color that needs to be experienced on a large canvas and not on a small television monitor.
The animated story is of a young woman Hana who meets a young man at a university in Tokyo. As they become close, he exposes his major life secret. He has the blood of both human and wolves in his veins. He can change from man to wolf at will. Soon they are expecting and have a daughter Yuki. Then, they have a son Ame. A tragedy happens and Hana is now a single mother with two very young children who can turn into wolves.
The rest of the story is of Hana’s struggles moving to the country and raising her two cubs. The young ones take very different paths to maturity, struggling with the two different bloods that pull them in different ways. It is a parallel of the struggle that Hana has to adapt to the country. The story is as mystical as it is purposeful.
Wolf Children is just amazing to take in. It is full of striking vistas and animation that is on par with anything Hollywood puts out. The story is charming and rich in details, showing the highs and lows of raising children. The struggle that is life is universal and Wolf Children takes a fantastical route to tell a familiar tale. It is a magical story that should not be missed.