Ookami Kodomo no Ame to Yuki, aka Wolf Children, was my first Mamoru Hosoda film, and I quite liked it. I could see why people were comparing Hosoda to Hayao Miyazaki, though I personally don’t think it’s a greatly apt comparison, nor do I think the comparison should be made based on one movie alone (The Girl Who Leapt Through Time and Summer Wars are, in my opinion, not comparably similar to any of Miyazaki’s movies). Sure, Wolf Children does remind me of Totoro in particular, what with the living in the countryside and parent-child relationships, but I’d rather let these two movies be their own things than really try to compare them.
My favourite thing about Wolf Children is probably that we get to see larger parts of the story than what is usually shown in anime. We get to see the parents get together, get an apartment, and have children. After that we get to the more common stuff, i.e. getting to see the children grow up into their pre-teen years. Though the commonness didn’t really matter to me, because I thought it was really well portrayed. Sure, there were some scenes that were difficult to get through due to me disagreeing with the characters about how they chose to handle things, but as a whole, it was a really enjoyable experience.
However, in order to get to that point where I could like the movie as a whole, I had to deal with the way it ended. Unlike The Girl Who Leapt Through Time and Summer Wars (which I didn’t watch until much later so I had nothing to compare Wolf Children to at first) which, in my opinion, had fairly conclusive endings, Wolf Children ends at a point where I (at least at the time) felt like it could still have gone on for quite a while. Later on I’ve come to see something similar in Mamoru Oshii’s movies, and I’m used to it now, but with Wolf Children it was difficult because I had expected a bombastic emotional climax (I blame Makoto Shinkai’s movies for that), and I didn’t get that.
But, like with Mamoru Oshii’s movies, I eventually came to accept the way Wolf Children ended. Sure, there were still some plot threads that I would have liked to see explored further, but I thought both Ame’s and Yuki’s storylines reached points where they could comfortably be ended in a satisfying way. Their mother gets a fuller kind of closure, but it’s still kind of an open ending regarding the rest of the characters’ lives. And in retrospect, I think I prefer it that way. The lack of a huge climax makes me think that I could actually enjoy watching it again, because knowing what happens is not too much a problem with that kind of ending.