Original Story by Mamoru Hosoda
Art by Yu
Hana, a young college student, notices an odd, scruffy stranger in her biology class one day. She is attracted to him and ends up offering to share her textbook. As they fall deeper in love, the stranger reveals to Hana that he is a human-wolf hybrid. Hana soon becomes pregnant and they settle down into a contented family life, until the stranger drowns in a river. Hana’s troubles only begin when her children switch between wolf and human forms willy-nilly. The city doesn’t become safe for the children, so Hana moves them to the country. Hana struggles to raise two feral children as well as run a sustainable farm as a single parent.
Wolf’s Children is the manga adaptation of Mamoru Hosada’s movie. It contains semi-autobiographical accounts, because a single mother raised Hosada as well. In the story, Hosoda wanted to depict the strength single mothers must rely on to raise their children and keep the family together. Hana has more difficulties than the average single mother, because she has to worry about keeping her children’s transformation abilities a secret as much as keeping them fed and under a roof. She keeps an unrelenting positive attitude that becomes unbelievable after all of the tragedies that befall her. This stems from Hana’s father telling her to always keep a smile on her face, even if she has to force it. She displays the typical cheery demeanor common in female manga characters and it’s easy to transpose her to another series, because more than likely her character type is there.
The children Ame and Yuki are adorable, but don’t experience as much conflict as one would think. They’re very isolated from other people, so their wolf habits hardly come into question. It’s not until Ame and Yuki get older that it becomes an issue. Yuki wants to go to school and must keep her wolf traits hidden, while Ame spends more and more time in the forest. The siblings have to decide whether they want to be human or wolf, but the issue only raises itself when Yuki accidentally hurts a classmate. The scenario feels rushed, but it’s traumatic enough for Yuki to decide to be human. The relationship between brother and sister isn’t developed much either. Their interactions aren’t limited, but they never appear to talk to each other.
The art drawn by the single name Yu mixes cuteness with landscapes that could be found in a Miyazaki film. The entire comic is very clean without a single line or panel out of place. The character designs are attractive, but they lack originality. It plays into Hana’s personality that they could appear in any current anime. Yuki and Ame’s forms as wolves are a tad weird. They keep their human hairstyle when they transform, instead of going full wolf. The art is a better product than what comes out in most produced manga, however.
Wolf’s Children has flaws in character development, but the story is an enjoyable take on the Wolf Man/human romance.