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Tear Jerker / Wolf Children

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  • The death of the unnamed wolfman. The reveal is difficult enough, but the way it's handled is excruciatingly brutal.
    • Spoilers ahead: "Handled" is a very good term, since he died in his full wolf form, the guys tasked with picking the body up simply throw it into a bag and unceremoniously toss it into a trash compactor. The fact that Hana has to watch all this and can't even properly bury him is heart crushing.
    • Then Hana's following dream where she sees her lover waving to her across a field, she waves back happy to see him again only for him to turn around and walk away despite her pleas, before he turns into a wolf and disappears, as if to signal his departure from her life forever.
      • Another gut-wrenching detail is how Ame and Yuki are strapped to Hana during this entire scene, sleeping and blissfully unaware that they just lost their father. Ame was still a newborn and never got to know him. Meanwhile, Yuki spent almost two years with the wolf-man and he doted on her a lot during their short time together. God knows how Hana broke it to her daughter that her daddy wasn't ever coming home again.
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  • During the montage of Ame and Yuki growing up in the city, Hana deals with a rather unfriendly tenant one night who impatiently complains about Ame's constant crying. Hana tries to reason that Ame's only a baby at this point, but the tenant doesn't sympathize and angrily claims Ame needs a muzzle. Even as a baby, he overheard this and cries harder. Ouch.
  • At first Hana's parenting difficulties are Playedfor Laughs and mostly consist of trying to keep the mischievous Yuki in check. But soon the problems become much more serious. She can't take her children out of the house for fear of their secret being exposed, gets chewed out by her neighbors and landlady for the noise they make, and only just manages to keep Ame and Yuki from being taken away by child services. The poor woman just can't catch a break.
    • The Child Welfare encounter is particularly harsh, both because of how desperate Hana is to keep the officials from barging into the apartment and how they make it clear that she will be charged with neglect if she doesn't comply. Hana is doing everything she can to keep her wolf children safe in the city, but the outside world considers her a bad mother just because she can't do normal things for her kids like take them to the doctor.
  • When Ame almost drowned trying to catch a bird, very much in the same way his father died. The sight of Hana hugging him so closely and crying, as if he was going to vanish if she ever let him go, is heartrending.
  • The wolf that Hana and Ame visit at the zoo. Hana speaks to it out of a vain hope it's the same kind of Japanese wolf as her husband and perhaps it will know how to fill in the blanks on how to raise werewolf children. Shortly after, she learns that it's not a Japanese wolf and hardly even a feral wolf. So it's a dead end.
    • What's sadder is, Ame even comments on how pitiful it looked, sitting all alone in its tiny enclosure.
      • Why was Ame so curious about the wolf in the first place? Because he wanted to meet a wolf like his father.
      • Heck, there's the side glance the wolf gave Ame, as though self-aware and ashamed of how he's not a free wolf like Ame.
      • Worse still, the wolf is nowhere to be seen for the rest of the movie after Ame starts venturing out to the forest. It probably spent the rest of its remaining years languishing in that concrete pen with the only other wolf it had likely ever seen in its life having ceased his visits.
  • The tracking shot showing the stark contrast between Ame and Yuki's elementary school years. While Yuki is seen happily learning with her friends, Ame is listlessly staring out the window and being bullied by the other kids.
    • It also shows a growing gap between the siblings. While Yuki does protect her brother from bullies, that's just about it. Instead of helping him up or checking to make sure that he's okay, she just walks off without a word. It's especially heartbreaking since they've been joined at the hip for their entire lives up until this point.
  • Ame and Yuki arguing over their choices to live as either human or wolf, devolving into them fighting each other in their wolf forms. Seeing Yuki scratched up and holding herself as she cries in the bath is just... ugh.
    • The fight itself marks a bitter lose-lose situation. Yuki sees a bit of her old self in her brother (a wild socially awkward child without a sense of belonging at school) and resents it. And Ame at the same time loses the sister he once knew, who would've related with the free-spirited wolf child he's become.
      • One can only imagine how terrified Yuki must have been in that moment. She started running away very early on in the fight. Ame, the weepy little brother who followed her around all through their childhood, was now aggressively chasing her around the house and nearly tore her throat out at one point. They're on good terms, or at least speaking terms, during the film's final act, but that takes place two years later. Yuki was probably scared of Ame for a while and the light novel confirms their relationship was never the same after that night.
      • During the above fight, Yuki's blue dress that Hana made for her is shredded in the process. She goes without it for the rest of the film. That dress was a cherished gift from her mother to help Yuki have an easier time at school and losing it must have hit hard.
      • Hana's pleas for Ame and Yuki to stop fighting are utterly ignored and she even gets knocked down when they rush past her at one point. All she can do is watch in horror as her children maul each other. Even when she tries to check on a scraped up Ame when the dust has settled, all he does is flash her a quiet Death Glare. A far cry from how he used to rush to his mother for comfort as a child.
  • Yuki deciding she's "tired of feeling like a kid". Despite Hana's best efforts to give her children a happy childhood, this is a sobering indication that Yuki and Ame have already grown up so quickly.
  • Souhei's belief that his mother's pregnancy with her second husband will mean she won't love her son anymore. Despite her Establishing Character Moment as being overly protective with Souhei, it's just not enough to convince the boy that his mother won't abandon him.
  • Ame's departure at the end of the film starts this way, with Hana desperately begging her son to come back.
    Hana: But I still haven't done a single thing for you...
    • When Hana wakes up in the parking lot, the first thing she sees is Ame walking away with his back turned to her before he turns into an adult wolf and leaves, paralleling the dream she had of the wolfman after his death.
    • What makes this even more heartbreaking is Ame's response to that line. By this point in the film, he's been established as maturing into being a fairly aloof and stoic character. His response to that line is one of being near to tears.
      • It seems he's become so lupine that he won't even speak. He just looks back at his mother regretfully, then runs away into the forest, presumably with no intention to ever return. Then he runs to the top of a mountain and just howls. Fortunately, there's a good chance he was simply showing Hana that she did plenty for him and the epilogue manga reveals he occasionally comes back to visit. Which is honestly pretty relieving.
    • What perhaps makes it sadder is that this is coming from Ame, who used to be a timid crybaby constantly by his mother's side. Seeing him transform from that child into becoming more confident and aloof is awesome, but also heartbreaking, seeing as he begins to nearly ignore his mother all together. Then Hana says how she didn't do anything for him before he leaves and he looks like he's hesitating, as if his child-self who depended deeply on his mother briefly came back, before he snapped out of it and ran off. Part of Hana's desperation to find him also likely stemmed from how she remembered that little boy who couldn't bear to be apart from her and always needed her help, hence she couldn't understand how he could manage on his own.
      • Tearjerkingly confirmed in the manga. As Hana is making her way through the forest, she keeps thinking about how Ame must be terrified and crying all by himself. It culminates in Hana embracing a hallucination of Ame's younger self before she collapses off the side of the cliff.
  • "The magic words didn't work no matter how many times I tried." Yuki completely breaks down in tears in Hana's car after she had accidentally hurt Sohei. She can't hold back her sobbing AT ALL, and it cuts straight to the heart.
    • It's a turning point in Yuki's childhood, where she's experiencing a deep loss of innocence. Not just because the "magic words" didn't work, but because her injuring Souhei is the first time ever she's witnessed for herself just what her wolf side is capable of. Now the poor thing is scared of what she is.
      • Right before this, Yuki trudges miserably into the classroom after her humiliating experience in the principal's office. She can't even last a couple of minutes before running out in tears. Not helped by her classmates (who were already gossiping about the incident) staring at her while urging the teacher to tell them what happened.
  • Masakatsu Takagi's "Okaasan no Uta" (Song of Mother). Dear lord.
    I can do it for you. Is there already nothing left?
    Someday, when you start your journey, I'll be sure to smile and see you off.
    But I will be a bit lonely.
  • When Hana is fixing up Ame's old stuffed wolf in the light novel, she remembers when her children were little and they couldn't sleep without the stuffed wolves she made to commemorate their births. But now that Yuki and Ame are growing up and their wolf dolls are gathering dust at the back of their desks, Hana wonders how long it will be until the siblings outgrow her as well.
  • A Fridge Horror tear jerker. At the beginning of the day of the huge rainstorm, there's brief interaction between Yuki & Ame before Yuki goes to school. Ame asks Yuki to stay home that day and keep their mom company, Yuki declines, and then she leaves. This is obviously heart-wrenching, first of all, because Ame has probably decided by this point that he's gonna run away, and also because he knows it's going to storm badly. He doesn't want Hana to be alone and have to deal with all of that. This in itself is both a Tear Jerker and a Heartwarming Moment, but it gets even sadder with the Fridge Horror. That small, seemingly insignificant interaction between the two siblings is the last time they ever see each other. Yuki and Ame never got to say goodbye...
    • Seemingly. There's still a good chance they end up seeing each other again at some point. Especially with the epilogue manga revealing that Ame visits Hana occasionally. After all, Yuki is the narrator. She can't really tell a part of a story she knows nothing about. Still, it's sad this is the least interaction they have in a long time.
  • It's implied Yuki never does regain her old interest in science and nature. She starts out as a wild, active little girl who loves collecting animal skeletons, little forest items, and playing with live snakes and frogs. When she starts attending school, however, she adopts a more modest persona out of a desperate desire to fit in — and even her adult self frets that she "didn't know how to be a little girl" back then. While Ame's love of nature at least takes root before he begins to be bullied at school, Yuki's life lacks for the kind of encouragement a girl like that needs, and as a consequence, her interests are quickly stifled. Ouch.
    • Aside from losing her interests, Yuki's older self spends most of her screentime in a constant state of stress. There's the incident with Souhei, her fight with Ame, and her worrying about Souhei after she overhears that his mother is getting re-married. Seeing the once happy and carefree Yuki become so melancholic while still a child is quite sad. Thankfully, things do get better for her.
  • The movie overall has a running theme that’s actually really depressing if you think about it. The idea that Yuki and Ame must choose between either being a wolf or a human. Despite the fact that they carry both human and wolf blood, the movie seems to drive home the idea that they can only be one or the other. Ame embracing his wolf half drives a wedge between him and his human mother, and Yuki’s wolf half causes her to be ostracized in her school, forcing her to essentially denounce that part of herself in order to fit in. Even their father, the nameless wolf-man, ends up dying as a result of trying to live in both worlds at once. The idea that both of them have to give up some part of their identity in order to find their place in the world is pretty damn sad.
    • Even worse, it's Hana who (unknowingly) imposes this choice on her kids by asking them what they would be if they could only choose one option. Granted, the two probably didn't understand her since they were only toddlers at the time and she didn't mean anything bad by it, but it's still not allowing them to have duality. How much better would Ame and Yuki's lives be if they just continued to switch back and forth between wolves and humans instead of limiting themselves to only one world?