Wolf Children

Movie review by
Renee Schonfeld, Common Sense Media
Wolf Children Movie Poster Image
Awe-inspiring, tender anime tale has mature themes.
  • PG
  • 2013
  • 117 minutes
Parents recommendPopular with kids

Parents say

age 10+
Based on 9 reviews

Kids say

age 10+
Based on 13 reviews

We think this movie stands out for:

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive messages

Strong messages about the importance of family, respecting individual differences, and finding one's own way in the world. Stresses positive results of good parenting, helpfulness, and selflessness.

Positive role models & representations

Hana is an exemplary parent. A single mom with two challenging children, she tackles the many problems that come her way with resourcefulness, strong purpose, and compassion. She's spirited, optimistic, and unwavering in her devotion. Members of the community, from neighbors to school officials, are helpful and generous. The story is set in Japan, and there's no ethnic diversity.

Violence

Several suspenseful sequences in which a mom and her children are in danger. Two young wolves fight and are slightly injured and bloodied. A little boy falls in water, appearing momentarily to be unconscious or dead. During a climactic storm in which the young mom desperately searches for her son, there are falls, an encounter with a bear, and after that a character who plummets down a hillside, appearing for a time not likely to survive. 

Sex

In silhouette a young couple kiss and sink out of the frame; they're in bed together with bare shoulders in the next scene. The woman later has morning sickness and shows signs of late pregnancy, and, after each of her two babies is born, she breastfeeds them. 

Language

A few instances of "damn," "hell," and "pee."

Consumerism
Drinking, drugs & smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Wolf Children, an English-language version of an animated Japanese fable (the specific style is often referred to as anime), has serious themes at its heart. Issues include single parenting, loss of a loved one, and making significant life choices. A young mother and her kids face danger from the forces of nature in several scenes; two struggles between children result in some mild injuries, and blood is drawn. There is one tender love scene, which presumably leads to off-camera sex. A woman is shown with a baby at her breast. A few mild curse words are audible ("damn" and "hell"), and a pregnant woman and a sick child each vomit. Lyrical, beautiful, and occasionally both suspenseful and sad, the film offers families with older kids and teens an opportunity to share a meaningful, emotionally powerful experience.

User Reviews

Adult Written bynduns March 1, 2014

Hosoda just keeps getting better

Seriously, there's a reason this man is classified as a new-age Miyazaki. His movies just keep improving. The Girl Who Leapt Through Time was fantastic,...
Parent of a 7 and 11 year old Written byH.Leigh April 5, 2014

Sad, poignant tale....but very beautiful, too

I watched this with my 11 yr old (almost 12) daughter. We both had tears in our eyes by the end. This is a very "heavy" movie, so to speak. I found mo...
Teen, 13 years old Written byMeowl November 27, 2014

It's good but...

So, I love this movie but a disagree with common sense media in that it does not have the best positive messages. A large part of the plot is focused around a r...
Teen, 14 years old Written byAlice Wonders March 18, 2015

Special fairytale.

This movie is such an emotional and lesson giving that made me cry and smile at the same time.It's worth to watch.

What's the story?

Hana is a bright, happy college student living on her own when she meets a young man with a devastating secret in WOLF CHILDREN. Only part human, the man she loves is the last remaining honcho wolf (thought to be extinct for more than a hundred years). Hana accepts the Wolf Man's occasional "transformation," and their wondrous romance produces two adorable children, Yuki and Ame. Soon, however, while Ame is still an infant, tragedy intervenes and Hana faces life and parenting on her own.

Once Hana realizes that Yuki and Ame are truly their father's children and hover between their human forms and their wild animal selves, she faces the truth and tries to keep them as safe, happy, and loved as possible. Moving far from the city, with the spirit of the Wolf Man to guide her, Hana uses every resource at hand to provide a full life for her children as they grow and try to make their way. But, for a family in which the kids are not fully human, growing up inevitably becomes a challenge that must be met with resolve, empathy, grace, and, ultimately, great sacrifice.

Is it any good?

From the moment the lyrical music begins and the buoyant Hana is introduced, this movie has you in its thrall. Alternately romantic, funny, poignant, suspenseful, and sad, the film and its characters Hana, Yuki, and Ame can't help but touch the heart. The visuals (a perfect combination of hand drawing and computer animation) are awe-inspiring: Scenes in the wild are vivid and exciting; the half-human, half-wolf children are charming; and the Japanese settings are gently beautiful. Touching upon some of life's most soulful themes -- losing loved ones, growing apart, and surviving in both the wild and in the midst of community -- the film is not appropriate for most young children, but for those who are either old or mature enough  (and for the grown-ups who are lucky enough to watch with them), it is highly recommended.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can discuss the filmmakers' attitude toward nature, represented here by wolves. How did the movie enrich your understanding of wild creatures and the worlds in which they live?  

  • Look up "fable," "fairy tale," "myth," and "legend." Which best characterizes Wolf Children? Why?

  • How did you feel about Ame's ultimate decision? How did the filmmakers prepare you, as well as Hana and Yuki, for Ame's choice? 

Movie details

Character Strengths

Find more movies that help kids build character.

Themes & Topics

Browse titles with similar subject matter.

Our editors recommend

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

See how we rate

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

Our ratings are based on child development best practices. We display the minimum age for which content is developmentally appropriate. The star rating reflects overall quality and learning potential.

Learn how we rate