story by Mamoru Hosoda; art by Yu
published by Yen Press; $25.99 US
Wolf Children: Ame & Yuki is a gorgeous manga adaptation of an award-winning animated film. Yen Press has really done the material well, releasing a single-volume hardcover containing over 500 pages of story (three volumes’ worth), color opening pages, and notes and character sketches by the authors.
It’s not a new story, but it’s presented in an affecting way. Hana falls in love with a mysterious bad boy who crashes a college course. Turns out he’s a werewolf, but they get married and have children anyway. After a tragedy, Hana moves to the country to raise their two children, Yuki and her little brother Ame. The kids can become wolves, humans, or humans with wolf ears. Hana wants to give them the choice to be who they are, without others judging them or running in fear or harming them, thus the more natural upbringing in relative solitude.
After two chapters that set up the relationship between her parents — and serve as a model of abbreviated but powerful storytelling, along the lines of Up — Yuki begins narrating the story of her life. I’m a sucker for cute kid stories, and these kids are adorable, particularly as they almost unthinkingly swap between toddlers and animals. I sympathized with Hana’s struggles, trying to raise particularly difficult offspring without being able to ask anyone for help. This is a heartwarming family story with easy-to-read yet emotional art.
With hard work and study, Hana learns what she needs, aided by the community around her. As the story progresses, the little family struggles with the kids going to school, finding mom a job, and building relationships with others. They choose different paths as they grow up, as all children do. (The publisher provided a review copy.)