Wolf Man: It’d be nice to have a home, a place where I belong.
Hana: I could belong there too if you don’t mind the company.
Seemingly mysterious, nerdy, long-haired guys always have a special place in my heart. The Wolf Man was almost exactly like that. This is basically the reason my heart started to flutter at the sight of him.
Hopeless romantics are the usual ‘victims’ of romance-themed movies while Papa’s girl or Mama’s boy or simply those who grew up without a mother or father are often the ‘preys’ of family-oriented movies. I am both.
The remarkable part is that I got to appreciate not only the characters but also my mother while watching this film. I know…I know. This is long overdue and I should’ve appreciated my mom more even before. Don’t get me wrong though, I love my mother. I am just not the showy, affectionate type of daughter. Because…well, just because.
Anyway, back to the purpose of this blog. My thoughts on Wolf Children – another Japanese animated film that I have recently watched (thanks to a friend’s recommendation). This was first released in France on June 25, 2012, marking its international debut and then in Japan on July 21, 2012. Wolf Children was also the second-highest grossing film in Japan on its debut weekend of 21–22 July 2012, beating Brave, a Disney Pixar animation, which debuted in Japan on the same weekend. A total of 276,326 audience stormed throughout the weekend to see this film resulting to a total of 365.14 million yen. Mamoru Hosoda’s previous work Summer Wars was eventually surpassed by this film. Summer Wars had a gross of around 1.6 billion yen during the weekend of 12–13 August 2012 while Wolf Children grossed 4.2 billion yen, making it the 5th highest grossing movie in Japan in 2012. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wolf_Children)
The film opens with a dream sequence – with Hana and the Wolf Man meeting each other in a beautiful pasture filled with flowers and drenched in the morning sun. Hana, a 19 year old college girl studying in a National University in Tokyo fell in love with this mysterious guy she once saw during a lecture. This was during the first few minutes of the film where the Wolf Man was seen wearing a white long sleeves shirt, sitting in the far corner of the room and jotting down notes diligently as he didn’t have any textbook to begin with. After the class, Hana noticed that this guy didn’t fill out any attendance slip so she went after him and advised what needs to be done. The guy immediately told her not to mind him since he was not a student in that university anyway.
Hana offered to help him in class and said they can even share textbook if he wants to which the Wolf Man kind of agreed as we can see in one part that while Hana was in the lecture hall, absent-mindedly taking her class, the Wolf Man suddenly appeared running and then rushing in to seat beside her, with the book of course that she lent him. From then on, they started spending more time together, knowing each other deeply and exploring the wonders of the world in a very elegant way.
Soon after, Hana gave birth to her firstborn, Yuki and then Ame. One rainy night a tragedy happened – something that Hana might have thought all along but didn’t expect it to come this early. Her husband in the form of a wolf, was seen lifeless and was being dragged by garbage collectors. All she could do then was stare at him…and cry. Her life definitely turned upside down after that tragic event.
Another memorable scene for me was when Yuki accidentally ate a pack of ‘silica’ and Hana was sick worried and didn’t know whether to take Yuki to the hospital or to the veterinarian. Good thing though the problem was resolved over the phone and she was greatly relieved.
She started raising their two kids alone in that small apartment. Every day she was living in fear that people might discover her secret and that her children will be put in danger. She did everything she could do to teach her kids how to behave in public. Unfortunately, she wasn’t that successful. Eventually, she was forced to move in the countryside so she could give her children ‘a choice’. It wasn’t a bad decision but wasn’t an easy one either. She spent all her savings in getting themselves settled in their new home. She had to put school on hold, quit her part-time job so she can look after her little angels.
Yeah, things get tougher when you start living in an unfamiliar place. But in the end, I think we will all agree that moving to a rural area was the best decision Hana could have ever made. The new place provided a big space for the growth of her children. The woods, the plants and the animals have all contributed to the wholeness of Yuki and Ame’s being.
Ame at the young age of 10 (which is considered an adult if you’re a wolf) finally decided to choose his own path – that is to become a wolf and live in the forest. It was heartbreaking for Hana at first but she soon accepted the fact that there is no better place for Ame but the woods. Then a year after, Yuki enrolled in junior high and went to live in a dormitory. Yes, Yuki chose to be a human (good to know she found a friend in Souhei).
Hana was left alone in their house. But she wasn’t sad. In fact she was really happy for being able to raise her kids well. She was very happy for giving the choice that her kids deserve. She occasionally hears the howl of the wolf from the woods and that’s more than enough for her to know that Ame is doing just fine. Yuki, perhaps, will go home every semestral break (just like any other student) to visit her mother.
One thing I admire in Hana is that she just doesn’t know how to give up. The fact that she’s very diligent and such an intelligent woman, make me respect her character even more. Even though others may argue that living in with someone (knowing that you’re still studying and has other things to prioritize), getting pregnant and all that is not right…well, we all have our own viewpoints anyway. I also have my personal take on this one but I don’t want to focus on it. What I want to focus on is the fact that Hana became the perfect mother for Yuki and Ame because she worked hard for it and didn’t give up even though a lot of things seem impossible to pull off (especially for a single mother like her).
I only have good words for this film really. The story, the characters, the musical scoring…everything…everything is just perfect.
We often get alienated by the idea of success – that which one must have a good paying job, much better if you’re in the management level and working in a big company with semi-annual/ annual parties especially Christmas and Halloween parties; you get to travel on your vacation leaves and whatnot. All these things, Hana didn’t have, yet you can see in her face that she is living as if she’s the most successful entrepreneur on earth.
I also particularly noted these lines from the Wolf Man:
“Every apartment is like its own little world inside. Some families have money, some don’t. Five live in that one, and there just two. Some are full of kids, others are all old folks.
It’d be nice to have a home. A place where I belong, like kick of my shoes, give my face a good washing, sit back in a comfortable chair. It must be nice. I could build a bookshelf. And once I’ve filled it with books, what’s to keep me from building another? You just can’t put a price on freedom like that.”
To be honest, this is the first time I have encountered an anime character who loves to read and likes to build a bookshelf. As a book lover and collector, I immediately fall for someone who loves to read (be it a fictional character or not. Hahaha!). I feel like if I am with that person, we can talk about any characters under the sun and not mind the hours passing by. I am also longing for that kind of freedom where you can just be yourself, do what you want to do (while still doing what you need to do) and of course build a bookshelf and after filling it with books, build another one. It’s true that you can never put a price on a freedom like that.
I feel like in some ways, I have found ‘people’ who are fulfilling what I’ve been wanting to do in my life right now. Hana, after quitting school and then focusing on raising her kids and settling in the countryside is still very happy and very much contented with her life. She had sacrificed a lot but all her sacrifices were not in vain because she herself found the things she had to do as a rewarding and priceless treasure. That selfless and unconditional love that only a few people can give…and Hana, a young mother, is one of them.
This movie is beyond amazing because of so many reasons (I could go on for hours talking about this film)! It helped me put my heart at peace. It made me smile from ear to ear. I am just in awe after watching this!
Seems like aside from Hayao Miyazaki, there is one more filmmaker whom I should look forward to. 🙂
(Photos used are not mine, credits to their rightful owners)