Wolf Children Movie Poster Image

Wolf Children

(i)

 

Awe-inspiring, tender anime tale has mature themes.
Parents recommend
  • Review Date: February 26, 2014
  • Rated: PG
  • Genre: Fantasy
  • Release Year: 2013
  • Running Time: 117 minutes

What parents need to know

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

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
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable

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.

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?

QUALITY

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.

Families can talk 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

DVD release date:November 26, 2013
Cast:Colleen Clinkenbeard, Lara Woodhull, Alison Viktorin
Director:Mamoru Hosoda
Studio:Funimation
Genre:Fantasy
Topics:Magic and fantasy, Brothers and sisters, Wild animals
Run time:117 minutes
MPAA rating:PG
MPAA explanation:for thematic elements, some violence, brief sensuality and language

This review of Wolf Children was written by

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

Quality

Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

Find out more

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

About Our Rating System

The age displayed for each title is the minimum one for which it's developmentally appropriate. We recently updated all of our reviews to show only this age, rather than the multi-color "slider." Get more information about our ratings.

Great handpicked alternatives

  • Masterpiece with crucial lessons about prejudice.
  • Magnificent movie with scary creatures and a strong heroine.
  • A beautiful, rare family film that everyone can enjoy.

What parents and kids say

See all user reviews

Share your thoughts with other parents and kids Write a user review

A safe community is important to us. Please observe our guidelines

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 rambunctious little girl becoming more 'ladylike' and her weak brother becoming more strong and wild. I find this extremely sexist. Other than that, I loved this movie! The animation was beautiful and the story engaging. The plot is a bit complex, and there are some intense moments (a child almost drowns, a character gravely injures herself in a storm, a body on the curb) there was also some sexy stuff early on in the movie, and the wolf childrens mother has a baby at 19.
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 more humor in it than she did--I laughed out loud at some of the antics of the wolf children as babies. We found this movie because we are huge fans of Miyazaki 's films (Ponyo, Totoro, Howls moving castle) and this director is billed as the 'next Miyazaki' ....and it did not disappoint ....the music, the artwork was beautiful. It is a worthy story to watch with Tweens or older....in a time where so many plot lines are shallow and sugary, this is neither, and I will not soon forget it. I think the content is consistent with a PG rating. I find nothing offensive in breast feeding, and the love story is gentile. I just think that the story itself might not appeal / sadden a child younger than 11-ish
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
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, Summer Wars was amazing and this is an absolute masterpiece. If he keeps this up, he will replace Miyazaki as the greatest anime film director of all time. The characters are so likable, the atmosphere is so good and it's so realistic. I would not recommend this for a young crowd, though. It's for older viewers. I'd say 12 and up is pretty accurate, though I bring it up to a teen rating as there is some brief nudity in the film. (Though really, people need to stop making such a big deal about nipples in an animated film) Great concept and wonderful execution, this movie is definitely worth your time.
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Too much sex

Poll

Did our review help you make an informed decision about this product?