Japanese release poster
|Directed by||Mamoru Hosoda|
|Produced by||Yuichiro Saito
|Screenplay by||Satoko Okudera
|Story by||Mamoru Hosoda|
|Music by||Takagi Masakatsu|
|Editing by||Shigeru Nishiyama|
|Running time||117 minutes|
Wolf Children (also known as The Wolf Children Ame and Yuki (おおかみこどもの雨と雪 Ōkami Kodomo no Ame to Yuki ) in Japan) is a 2012 Japanese animated film co-written and directed by Mamoru Hosoda. The film stars the voices of Aoi Miyazaki, Takao Osawa, Haru Kuroki and Yukito Nishii. In Ame and Yuki, Hana falls in love with a Wolf Man. After the Wolf Man's death, Hana decides to move to a rural town to continue raising her two wolf children Ame and Yuki.
For the production of the film Hosoda established Studio Chizu, a studio that co-produced the film along with Madhouse. Yoshiyuki Sadamoto, notable for being the character designer for Neon Genesis Evangelion and Fushigi no Umi no Nadia, served as character designer on the film. Wolf Children had its world premiere in Paris on June 25, 2012, and was released on July 21, 2012 in Japan. The film is licensed by Funimation Entertainment in North America and was released on DVD and Blu-ray on November 23, 2013. Wolf Children is dedicated to Jerry Russell, a voice actor involved in the English-language adaptation who died over two months before the film's North American release.
The film will be screened in the UK at the end of October 2013 with a DVD and Deluxe Blu-ray/DVD edition from Manga Entertainment to follow on December 23, 2013.
Nineteen-year-old college student Hana meets a young man who sneaks into her classes for lessons and falls in love with him immediately. They soon start dating. One day, the man reveals his identity to Hana; he is a Wolfman and the only surviving descendant of the extinct Japanese wolf. Undeterred by this fact, Hana invites him to live with her. A year later, when Hana becomes pregnant, she decides not to visit a hospital out of fear that her child will be born a wolf. Their daughter, Yuki ("Snow"), is thus born at home on a snowy day, along with her brother, Ame ("Rain"), who is born a year after her, this time on a rainy day. Not long after Ame's birth, the Wolfman suddenly disappears. Hana searches frantically, only to discover city workers working to remove a wolf's carcass from a canal. He had died accidentally while hunting on instinct to feed his young. Although devastated by the loss of her beloved, Hana resolves to take good care of their wolf-children by herself.
However, Hana finds living in the city with her children extremely difficult. Yuki, who is temperamental, often switches between her human and wolf forms, creating a lot of noise and making the neighbors upset. Hana's landlady receives complaints that she is keeping pets at home due to the wolf cries coming from within the apartment, and threatens to evict her. Making matters worse, child-protection officers have been hounding Hana because her children have not gone for the compulsory immunization program. Eventually, Hana decides to move to the countryside and stumbles upon a dilapidated house that is virtually rent-free, but requires a lot of renovation work. Most importantly to her, however, is the fact that the nearest neighbor is miles away, and the house is surrounded by nature.
Hana gets down to work immediately, repairing the house and later trying to grow crops. Initially skeptical of her at first, the other villagers warm up to her and help her to settle in. One fierce old man who treats newcomers harshly even shows Hana how to grow her own farm. At the same time, Hana tries to find ways to educate her children about wolf survival in the wild. She eventually gets a job as an assistant in a nature reserve to learn more about nature. Meanwhile, Yuki loves the new environment, while Ame dislikes it. One snowy day after the family goes into the forest for a run, Ame (in his wolf form) finds the will to chase after a kingfisher, but loses his footing and falls into a stream, nearly drowning but is saved by Yuki. After that day, Ame becomes confident in himself.
Soon, when Yuki and Ame reach school-going age, Yuki begs her mother to send her to elementary. Hana is reluctant in sending Yuki to school due to her frequent transformations. But after days of crying, whining, and begging, Hana accepts on one condition: they must never transform into wolves in front of people. Although Yuki does not fit well into the school environment initially due to her background, she soon adapts and makes many new friends at school. However, Ame does not adapt very well and he eventually stops attending and frequently wanders into the woods behind their house. Later, Hana discovers that Ame is taking lessons from an old fox about hunting and survival in the wild.
In school, Yuki's class receives a new transfer student, Souhei, who immediately tells Yuki that she smells like a "furry animal". Concerned that he will uncover her identity, Yuki avoids him. Souhei, confused and frustrated asks her if it was because he was an exchange student, Yuki denies it and tries to escape. However, Yuki transforms into her wolf form and scratches Souhei across the ear after being chased around. Hana meets with and apologizes to Souhei's mother before telling Yuki to apologize. When Souhei says that a wolf had hurt him to the confusion of his hysterical mother, Yuki runs out of the classroom in shock and decides not to attend school. However, moved by Souhei's persistence in sending her homework and foodstuffs every day, Yuki eventually returns to school, and even becomes good friends with Souhei.
Hana begins to notice Ame acting strangely as he fights with Yuki, and encourages him to stay at home out of concern that he will not come back after he tells her that his master has been hurt and will soon die and that he needs to be replaced. A fierce storm comes and Ame disappears into the forest with Hana chasing after. Hana searches for Ame in the forest while Yuki waits to be picked up at school. Yuki and Souhei were the only students who were left behind. There, Yuki tells Souhei her secret by transforming into a wolf after opening the window. Souhei tells Yuki that he already knew she was an Ōkami and that he will continue to keep her secret. Yuki cries, telling Souhei that instead of tears it was just the rain, and thanks him. Hana falls down a slope in the forest. As Ame, in his human form, carries her to a parking lot, she has a vision of her husband praising her for how she raised their children. She awakens just in time to see Ame turn into an adult wolf and leave, howling. One year later Yuki starts to dorm at her middle school and Hana laughs about the story of raising her wolf children for 12 years saying it was like a fairy tale.
- Aoi Miyazaki as Hana
- Takao Osawa as Ookami (the Wolfman)
- Haru Kuroki as Yuki
- Yukito Nishii as Ame
- Momoka Ono as Yuki (young)
- Amon Kabe as Ame (young)
- Takuma Hiraoka as Sōhei Fujii
- Megumi Hayashibara as Mrs. Fujii
- Shota Sometani as Tanabe-sensei
- Mitsuki Tanimura as Doi's wife
- Kumiko Aso as Horita's wife
- Bunta Sugawara as Nirasaki
- Tomie Kataoka as Nirasaki's daughter
- Colleen Clinkenbeard as Hana
- David Matranga as The Wolfman
- Jad Saxton as Yuki
- Micah Solusod as Ame
- Lara Woodhull as Yuki (young)
- Alison Viktorin as Ame (young)
- Jason Liebrecht as Sōhei
- Lydia Mackay as Sōhei's Mother
- Jerry Russell as Grandpa Nirasaki
- Wendy Powell as Nirasaki's Daughter
- Sonny Strait as Mr. Tanabe
At a press conference held on 18 June 2012, the director Mamoru Hosoda announced that Wolf Children would be released in 34 different countries and territories. This film was first released in France on June 25, 2012, marking its international debut. It was subsequently released in Japan on July 21, 2012. The film made its US premiere at the 2012 Hawaii International Film Festival. The film's Blu-ray and DVD release date for Japan has been confirmed for February 20, 2013.
The Newport Beach Film Festival in Newport Beach, CA, screened Wolf Children on April 27, 2013.
In addition to the film, two novelizations and a manga written by Hosoda (with art by Yū (優)) were released by Kadokawa Shoten. As tie-ins to the film, a film picture book, an art book, and a storyboard book were released from Kadokawa, Media Pal, and Pia.
- Wolf Children Ame and Yuki by Mamoru Hosoda, Kadokawa Shoten, 22 June 2012, ISBN 9784041003237
- Mamoru Hosoda Pia, Pia, 10 July 2012, ISBN 9784835621203
- Wolf Children Ame and Yuki by Yū (illustrations) and Mamoru Hosoda, Kadokawa Comic Ace, 14 July 2012, ISBN 9784041203217
- Wolf Children Ame and Yuki by Mamoru Hosoda, Kadokawa Tsubasa Bunko, 15 July 2012, ISBN 9784046312488
- Kadokawa Picture Book Wolf Children Ame and Yuki by Mamoru Hosoda, Kadokawa Shoten, 15 July 2012, ISBN 9784041102473
- Wolf Children Ame and Yuki Storyboards Animestyle Archive by Mamoru Hosoda, Media Pal, 21 July 2012, ISBN 9784896102468
- Wolf Children Ame and Yuki Official Book: Hana no Yō ni edited by the Wolf Children Ame and Yuki Production Committee, Kadokawa Shoten, 23 July 2012, ISBN 9784041102480
- Wolf Children Ame and Yuki Artbook edited by the Wolf Children Ame and Yuki Production Committee, Kadokawa Shoten, 25 August 2012, ISBN 9784041102862
Wolf Children was the second-highest grossing film in Japan on its debut weekend of 21–22 July 2012, beating Disney Pixar's animation film Brave, which debuted in Japan on the same weekend. It attracted an audience of 276,326 throughout the weekend, thus grossing a total of 365.14 million yen. The film subsequently surpassed Mamoru Hosoda previous work Summer Wars's Japanese gross of around 1.6 billion yen during the weekend of 12–13 August 2012.
In total, Wolf Children grossed 4.2 billion yen, making the 5th highest grossing movie in Japan in 2012.
Wolf Children received positive reviews from film critics. Mark Schilling from The Japan Times compared Hosoda to the acclaimed director Hayao Miyazaki, saying that "The Miyazaki influence on Hosoda's own work seems obvious, from his cute-but-realistic style to his concern with pressing social issues and the messy emotions of actual human beings". Moreover, he said that the director "has integrated fantastic elements into otherwise everyday settings". However, Schilling added that he felt that this film was "on the conventional and predictable side". He added that the film was like "appealing to "Jane Eyre" fans in one scene, "Call of the Wild" fans in the next", with him taking issue with "the well-worn, stereotypical rails on which the stories ran". Overall, Schilling gave the film a rating of 3 out of 5 stars.
The French newspaper Le Monde rated this film as a "Excellent", and gave it a rating of five out of five stars. Singapore newspaper Mypaper also praised the film, saying that "There is a magnificent understated eye for detail, from the grain of wood on doors to the lovingly captured forest scenes, that help lift the movie above regular animation fare."
Wolf Children won the 2013 Japan Academy Prize for Animation of the Year, the 2012 Mainichi Film Award for Best Animation Film, and the 2013 Animation of the Year award at TAF. It has also won two awards at the Oslo Films from the South festival in Norway: the main award, the Silver Mirror, and the audience award. Wolf Children won an Audience Award at 2013 New York International Children's Film Festival.
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- Official website (Japanese)
- Official website (English)
- Wolf Children (film) at Anime News Network's Encyclopedia
- Wolf Children at the Internet Movie Database
- Ôkami Kodomo No Ame to Yuki at the Big Cartoon DataBase
- English Dubbed Trailer For Manga Entertainment UK release on 23rd December 2013