Anime: Wolf Children Ame and Yuki

You might think this sounds like a fairy tale. You might even laugh at my story. You probably think that stuff like this just doesn’t happen. But everything I tell you is true. This is the story about my mother, and the wolf man she fell in love with.

Wolf Children Ame and Yuki is a 2012 anime Slice of Life film by Mamoru Hosoda — director of Digimon: Our War Game, The Girl Who Leapt Through Time and Summer Wars — about a young woman named Hana who falls in love with her mysterious college classmate who is actually a wolf man. The couple produce two children who also possess their father's lineage; the big sister Yuki, who was born on a snowy day, and the little brother, Ame, who was born on a rainy day.

The wolf man suddenly dies one day, leaving Hana to raise the two wolf children herself and struggle to keep their secret. But when the family is threatened by eviction, child services, and neighbors annoyed by Ame's constant crying (and often both Wolf Children's howling, which the landlady mistakes for pets), Hana decides to move out to the secluded country side where her kids can roam free.

This film provides examples of:

  • Absurdly Youthful Mother: Hana, so young-looking and cute that she can easily be mistaken for Yuki and Ame's big-sister. This is perhaps somewhat justified in that she probably had Yuki within her first year or so of college, meaning she was already pretty young
  • Adaptation Expansion: A downplayed example: the English dub explains the wolfman's life before he met Hana in more detail near the beginning of the movie than the original Japanese Dub did. However we don't learn much more. Despite that it's still a nice little bonus as it builds his character some more.
    • While the manga adaptation compresses a lot of the story for sake of flow of plot, it makes up for it by having a few tidbits of bonus story, such as a small comic where Yuki catches a cold, and an epilogue that gives us a glimpse at Yuki's life at her new school, while she writes a letter to her mom. It also gives a possibly slightly happier ending than the film, implying that Ame still visits Hana occasionally after he chooses to live as a wolf; she finds a peach left by the door, similar to how she took a peach to give to Sensei when Ame took her to meet him.
  • Adult Fear: Ame nearly drowns after falling into a river while trying to catch a bird. Having lost her lover in a similar scenario, Hana is understandably scared out of her wits when Yuki pulls Ame out and he isn't breathing. Thankfully, Ame lives.
  • Armor-Piercing Question: Near the end of the movie before Ame departs.
    Hana: "Ame, wasn't I supposed to teach you something important in your life by now? What did I teach you?"
  • Artistic License – Law: It's highly unlikely that social services would leave Hana alone just because she moved.
  • Bears Are Bad News: Hana when she runs into a bear while searching for Ame in the woods. Fortunately it eventually loses interest and she wanders off with her cubs.
  • Beast and Beauty: The wolfman and Hana.
  • Big Eater: Yuki, at least as a small child.
  • Big Sister Instinct: Yuki saves Ame from drowning at one point, and is later seen protecting him from bullies.
  • But Now I Must Go: Ame in the ending, where he chooses to live as a wolf and rule the forest in his deceased teacher's place.
  • Call Back: Hana tumbles down a hill twice. Played for Laughs the first time, the second...not so much.
  • Cat Smile: Displayed by Hana on the poster.
  • Cerebus Retcon: The first time the Wolf Man hunts, catches, and cooks a pheasant for Hana, it's a Crowning Moment of Heartwarming that's also played for laughs. The second time, it's the cause of his death.
  • Cheerful Child: Yuki as a toddler.
  • City Mouse: Hana, though she adapts much better than most. Partly because Wolf-Yuki chases the wild animals away from her crops.
  • Coming-of-Age Story: For Hana's children. Yuki develops from plucky and hyper to more mature and humble, while Ame develops from a Shrinking Violet to aloof and stoic.
  • Covers Always Lie: the kids never assume the Little Bit Beastly forms shown on the poster to the right - when in wolf form, they're always at least Petting Zoo People.
  • Deconstruction: The idea of raising werewolf children is played fairly realistically, with incidents like child services banging down Hana's door asking why the kids have no immunization records (presumably, Hana simply didn't want to deal with a potential wolf-shift at the doctor's office, or doesn't know how they would react to human medicine) and Hana being unsure whether to take Yuki to a vet or a doctor after she ingests silica gel.
  • Dedication: The dub's production is dedicated to Nirasaki's actor Jerry Russell, who died a few months before the movie was released in America.
  • Determinator: Hana. Despite the drawbacks when she first moves to the countryside, she sticks it out. Several of the locals joke that other city folks who attempted to live the country life found it too hard and moved away after a short while.
  • Determined Widow: While they were never married, Hana certainly fits the trope in terms of her devotion to her dead lover and their children.
  • Disappeared Dad: The Wolf Man, though it's due to his death while attempting to support Hana and their kids rather than neglect.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: The conflicts the children go through are reminiscent of the issues of heritage vs. assimilation that second-generation immigrants must deal with.
  • Expy: It's likely coincidental, but Ame's personality and Character Development is very similar to Bambi; a gentle, shy kid growing up to become aloof and stoic like his father, to the point he distances himself from his family. Ame's final appearance is even similar to Bambi's; standing at the top of a cliff while showing off how magnificent he's become.
  • Gender Equals Breed: Yuki resembles her mother while Ame resembles his father.
  • Genki Girl: Yuki as a kid.
  • Ghibli Hills: Hana's new place in the country. It's a beautiful, verdant locale (in the warm seasons, at least) with dense forests and plenty of semi-magical wildlife. This is shown in full effect in a montage where Ame and Sensei the fox go exploring in the mountains.
  • Girliness Upgrade: As she ages, Yuki dresses more fashionably and makes it a point to try and fit in with the other girls more.
  • Good Parents: Hana; see the Mama Bear entry below.
  • Grumpy Old Man: Nirasaki, who teaches Hana how to grow crops.
  • Her Heart Will Go On: The film focuses on Hana attempting to raise Yuki and Ame.
  • Humanoid Female Animal: Yuki's half wolf form looks decidedly more human-like than Ame's, especially when they're teenagers.
  • I Just Want to Be Normal: Yuki as she gets older, and simply wants to live a normal life as a human girl.
  • Ill Boy: Young Ame.
  • Implied Love Interest: Souhei to Yuki.
  • Interspecies Romance: Hana's love affair with the Wolf Man.
  • Irony: As toddlers, Yuki embraces her wolf side and often transforms while Ame prefers his human form more and even states that he hates his wolf heritage at one point. Towards the end of the movie, Yuki prefers being human while Ame abandons his human side altogether and decides to live as a wolf in the wild.
    • Ame and Yuki however end up being more like their parents then they realize by the end. Ame takes a grown up, mature lifestyle despite being young much like Hana did, and Yuki choses to live as a human who still has her wolf side and reveals it to someone important to her, just like her dad.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Nirasaki, he even gets the other villagers to warm up to Hana.
  • Last of His Kind: The wolf man is the last surviving descendant of the Japanese wolf, a subspecies of the gray wolf which in real life has been extinct since the early 20th century. When he dies, Yuki and Ame become the last of their kind.
  • Limited Wardrobe: While less extreme than most examples of this trope, throughout most of the movie Yuki wears a pink one piece dress and then switches to a blue dress over a white blouse while Ame wears the same clothes as his father did.
  • Loners Are Freaks: Ame has trouble connecting with kids at school, and in a montage is seen being bullied.
  • Magic Pants: Happens at certain times, but noticeably averted in others. At least one scene shows Hana picking up her children's clothes to give them back later.
  • Mama Bear: Hana is insanely devoted to her children and will do anything to keep them safe. Without the wolf man, Hana is left to raise her two children alone, but she never complains and she never shows any resentment towards her kids. She leaves her comfortable life in the city behind to find a safe place to raise her kids, working her ass off to restore an abandoned old house in the country. Even though she has no idea how to raise half-wolf children, she tries her best to support them. When Ame leaves for the mountain during a typhoon, Hana follows him in only a rain-jacket and rain-boots. The terrain is steep and treacherous on the mountain, moreso when it's pouring rain and gusting wind, but Hana keeps going in order to find her son and keep him safe.
    • This is referenced when she runs into a literal mama bear and her two cubs while searching for Ame in the forest.
  • Meaningful Name: Yuki was born on a snowy day; Ame was born on a rainy day.
    • Ame abandons his humanity and lives as a wolf in the forest on a rainy day.
  • Momma's Boy: Ame as a toddler.
  • My Instincts Are Showing: Something Yuki and Ame struggle with throughout the film - especially as toddlers, when their puppy like behavior can't easily be reigned in. Ame gives in entirely and opts to abandon his human side.
  • New Transfer Student: Sohei. Yuki is incredibly uncomfortable around him, partly because he says that she smells like they have a dog at her house, and partly because of how persistent he was at attempting to talk to her.
  • Nightmare Fetishist: Before her Girliness Upgrade, Yuki would do things like play with snakes and collect animal bones. The fact that these hobbies send the other girls running away screaming leads to her abandoning these habits.
  • Noble Wolf: The father wolf man and Ame by the end of the film.
  • No Name Given: The wolf man's name is never revealed.
  • Nostalgic Narrator: The story's narrated by an older Yuki.
  • Oh, Crap: Hana, when Sohei claims that it was a wolf and not Yuki that slashed his ear. Luckily no one noticed as she was bowing her head at the time.
  • Older Than They Look: Hana still looks like she's in her early twenties despite being in her mid-thirties by movie's end.
  • The Oner: An interesting one used to bridge the gap between Time Skip. It transitions from the early years of primary school to both children's final years there.
  • Our Werewolves Are Different: It's stated early on in the film that the traditional werewolf lore is all made up, and actual wolf-people are nothing like that.
  • Parental Abandonment: Souhei's mother gets remarried, and he hints that he's not needed by her anymore. Which is a bit of a shock considering how concerned she was for him earlier when he was attacked and suffered injuries to his ear by Yuki who got angry at him not leaving her alone.
  • Partly Cloudy with a Chance of Death: Both the Wolf-Man and Ame's fox "Sensei" die during rainstorms.
  • Plucky Girl: Hana, oh so very much.
    • Yuki, too, albeit this is toned down as she grows older.
  • Ridiculously Cute Critter: Ame and Yuki as half-wolf pups.
  • Red Eyes, Take Warning: Ame after a fight with his sister.
    • Earlier Yuki when she slashes Sohei's ear because he won't leave her alone.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Yuki's red to Ame's blue. Interestingly, this dynamic is reversed by the end of the movie.
  • Show, Don't Tell:
    • The montage with Hana and the wolfman living together, Hana finding out she's pregnant and their busy, sometimes struggling, but also heartwarming everyday lives up until Yuki is born is accompanied by a gorgeous piano piece and practically no dialogue.
    • Later in the film, the contrast between Yuki and Ame throughout the early grades, with her fitting in fairly well, and him having trouble adjusting to school and getting bullied.
    • Ame being taught various things by "sensei" a fox he meets in the mountains. Part of it shows when he suggests Yuki stay home instead of going to school one day, knowing that a bad storm was coming before the meteorologists did.
  • Scenery Porn: Before they move out to the country, even.
  • Secret Secret Keeper: Near the end of the film Sohei reveals to Yuki that he'd known she was a wolf ever since she scratched his ear.
  • Sexy Discretion Shot: Used in Hana and the wolfman's first night together, after he's revealed his identity to her.
  • Sibling Yin-Yang: The timid Ame and the hyperactive Yuki. Yuki embraces her wolf-side while Ame hates it. This is switched around as they get older.
  • Strong Family Resemblance: As Ame gets older, he resembles his father more and more.
  • Theme Naming: Yuki ("snow") and Ame ("rain") are named after the weather on the days they were born.
  • Those Two Guys: Nirasaki's two old-geezer buddies, who help Hana with her crops and bicker about every single instruction they give her.
  • Twirl of Love: Hana and the wolfman share one outside the cake shop after he finds out she's pregnant for the first time.
  • What Measure Is a Non-Cute? /What Measure Is a Non-Human?: Discussed when Ame brings up the children's stories where the wolf is always the villain.
  • Wham Line: In a rare version of which Hana accidentally delivers one to herself. When trying to tell Ame off from going to the mountains anymore, she states how "even though 10 years is adult age for a wolf...", then pauses in shock. She then tearfully begs Ame to listen to her as she realizes what she just said.
  • Wham Shot: Wolf-Man's corpse near the start of the movie. Followed by what becomes of the corpse when it's tossed in a trash compactor while a horrified Hana can only watch.
  • Younger Than They Look: Towards the end Yuki and Ame look like they're in their early teens despite being 10/11 years old. This also applies for the fully human Souhei.

Alternative Title(s):

Wolf Children Ame And Yuki