'Ame and Yuki, the Wolf Children' opens in Japan as the #2 grosser
Japanese animated feature Ame and Yuki, The Wolf Children (Ookami kodomo no Ame to Yuki), produced by Madhouse and directed by Mamoru Hosoda, was released in Japan on July 21, the same weekend as the Japanese release of Pixar’s Brave. Box office results show that The Wolf Children ranked second, earning $4,592,490 (¥360,372,690), while Brave was in fifth place with $1,858,971 (¥145,873,454). 1st and 4th places were held by live-action features, while #3 went to this year’s annual Pokémon feature, Pocket Monsters: Best Wishes 2012.
The theme of the film is the love between parents and children. The story covers 13 years and begins with a 19-year-old college student named Hana who encounters and falls in "fairy tale-like" love with a "wolf man." After marrying the wolf man [named Ookami, Wolf], Hana gives birth and raises two wolf children — an older sister named Yuki [Snow] who was born on a snowy day, and a younger brother named Ame [Rain] who was born on a rainy day. The four quietly lived in a corner of a city to conceal the existence of the "wolf children," but when the wolf man suddenly dies, Hana decides to move to a rural town far removed from the city.
To say that expectations are high for this film is a ridiculous understatement, with many having already anointed Hosoda the natural heir to the sort of films that Studio Ghibli made at their peak. The director has his entire core creative staff on board once again for this film, which bodes well, and the first teaser has just arrived online to give the first taste.
The Asahi Shimbun reported (July 12) that, “The anime The Wolf Children, Ame and Yuki made its world premiere late last month [June 25] at a packed Paris theater to a standing ovation.” An extensive review in The Japan Times by Mark Schilling (July 20) gives a longer plot synopsis:
Based on an original story by Hosoda, Wolf Children resembles folktales about shape-shifting entities who can take both animal and human form, though his title wolf children have no magical powers. Instead they are offspring resulting from a romance between 19-year-old college girl Hana (voiced by Aoi Miyazaki) and a lean, hungry-looking fellow student (Takao Osawa) who turns out to a wolf in human guise.
The story begins with Hana falling for her wolfman, with his air of loneliness and seriousness, at first sight. She at first pursues him, but after he responds to her advances, she soon switches roles to the tune of Peggy March's I Will Follow Him. Their first child, a girl born on a snowy day, is called Yuki (Snow), while their second, a boy born on a wet day, is dubbed Ame (Rain). Both are able to change from wolf to human and back again at will, though Yuki grows to be a rambunctious tomboy, while timid Ame clings to Mom's apron strings.
After their father suddenly dies, Hana realizes that her two metamorphosing babies are too hard to control in the city, with its omnipresent prying eyes. She moves with them to a tumbledown farmhouse in a remote corner of the countryside and settles down to what she hopes will be an undisturbed existence, but her savings soon disappear and her fumbling attempts to grow vegetables fail. Luckily she is rescued by a cranky but kindly old farmer (Bunta Sugawara) and other sympathetic locals.
As Yuki grows from pint-sized hellion (voiced by Momoka Ono) to school-age girl (Haru Kuroki), she decides she wants a more normal life. With Hana's approval, she enrolls in the neighborhood elementary school and begins acting like an average human girl to better blend in with her new friends. Then, as a fourth-grader,
Official trailer — See more: Additional footage from Ame and Yuki Yuki undergoes another rite of passage: her first big crush, its object being a fierce-eyed transfer student (Takuma Hiraoka) who temperamentally resembles her wolfish dad.
Little Ame (Amon Kabe) reluctantly follows his sister's lead, but he is interested less in school than the wilds beyond the classroom window. Finally, on the brink of adolescence, a more confident and rebellious Ame (Yukito Nishi) encounters a fellow wolf who instructs him in the ways of his kind.
These two coming-of-age stories may each captivate one sex while boring the other. It's as if Hosoda were appealing to Jane Eyre fans in one scene, Call of the Wild fans in the next.
Publicity for Ame and Yuki has been considerable:
Neurowear, the makers of the new brain-wave necomimi (cat ears) have announced that they will be releasing ears based on those of the two children in Mamoru Hosoda’s new film Ookami kodomo no Ame to Yuki.
However, the only way to get ahold of one of only six pairs being produced is to win them in ‘The Wolf Children Summer Fair’. [an event organized by publishers Kadokawa Shoten]