Sunday, March 30, 2014

FROM THE ASHES: Segment # 21

Children of the Wolf

My god. Wolf Children (2012) is probably one of my favorite modern classics; and trust me, that's saying a lot. A tale of love, loss, and life choices, this story exemplifies a family unit brilliantly... even if its far from a typical family. Directed by Mamoru Hosoda (1967-), of noted fame for his work on: The Girl Who Leapt Through Time, Summer Wars, and of course Wolf Children, as well as being key animator on multiple Dragon Ball Z projects. With multiple producers and help from Madhouse Studios, in addition to Hosoda's own Studio Chizu, the animation in this film is truly something to behold. The subtle yet moving score of the film is composed by Takagi Masakatsu (1979-), who is more recognized as a promotional advertising composer, but does a suitable job here. Distributed by Toho, one of the best known in the business, and a successful box office smash with a $53,923,613 return as well as winning multiple awards such as: the Japan Academy Prize for Animation of the year in 2012, the Mainichi Film award for Best Animation Film, the 2013 Tokyo International Anime Fair award for Animation of the year, two awards at the Oslo Film Festival in Norway: The Silver Mirror, and the Audience Award, and another Audience Award at the 2013 New York International Children's Film Festival; I'd say, yeah. This film is damn awesome. Last but not least, it even has a 92% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Its truly staggering how much praise this film has received, and even more on how much it deserves it. Now, for my own thoughts on the film.

I know coming from someone who loves anime, that it might not seem too surprising for me to say, but here it is: I love this film; its a masterwork. With soft lines and colors to match the score, the visuals stand out even more by not throwing themselves into the audience's face. Aesthetically, from the very first moment color lights up the screen, its a journey; a journey of soft colors and strong emotions. I can't begin to tell you how often a mother's love is overplayed and doesn't feel genuine in films. That is definitely not the case here. In both the Japanese and English scripts, the dialogue and strong performances of both actresses shines an honest light on the ever complex ranges of emotions that a mother has. The story does a grand job pulling at the audience's heartstrings, but can also make them feel joy, sadness, frustration, and empathy with these characters and what they go through. There's a lot of really good anime feature films out there, but to me this one really does stand out. Definitely a brilliant commentary on raising kids, the honesty and turmoil of a family unit, the parents journey through seeing the choices ones kids make as they grow up, and pain of loss expressed through selfless love, this film has much to offer. Both Japanese and English voice cast are strong, but personally I resonated with and enjoyed the English cast more. A superb family film, a great study on life and love, an engaging cast of characters and enthralling story, this film should not be missed. I truly hope everyone check this one out! Enjoy!

From The Ashes, V.~

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