Wolf Children (Blu-ray) (2012)

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Released 18-Dec-2013

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Animation Audio Commentary
Interviews-Cast & Crew
Featurette-Making Of
Trailer-Multiple
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 2012
Running Time 117:19
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Ads Then Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Mamoru Hosoda
Studio
Distributor
Studio Chizu
Madman Entertainment
Starring None Given
Case Standard Blu-ray
RPI ? Music None Given


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None Japanese Dolby TrueHD 5.1
English Dolby TrueHD 5.1
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 1080p
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English Titling
English
Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

     Mamoru Hosada is a rising star of Japanese animation. He has now directed three feature films and with this third film, Wolf Children, has created his own studio, Studio Chizu, presumably to rival the Miyazaki studio, Studio Ghibli. I have been fortunate enough to review his first two films being The Girl Who Leapt Through Time and Summer Wars. This new film keeps up the marvellous qualities of his first two films and explores similar themes of romance, family and the nature of parenthood, especially mothers in this case. The setup for the film is slightly odd but the way the story unfolds makes it seem quite normal.

     The story involves a young Japanese woman, Hana, who meets a man, falls in love and gets married. This all seems normal until it is revealed that the 'man' is actually half man, half wolf and can control whether he appears in wolf form or man form. Together they have two children, Yuki, a wild/adventurous girl and Ame, a younger timid boy who are both half human, half wolf. Shortly after Ame's birth, his father is killed during a storm while in wolf form and ends up being found dead in a drainage canal in the city where they live. Hana soon realises that she cannot bring up her two children in the city, as they are showing wolf like tendencies and sometimes transform into wolf cubs, seemingly without any ability to control it. Accordingly, she moves to an old house far out in the countryside away from towns and near the forest. As she does not find work immediately, she tries to live by growing food on the land around the house but with limited success. She meets some local farmers including Grandpa Nirasaki, who despite his seeming grumpy actually helps her to succeed and feed her children. The film follows the children as they grow, learn to use their wolf powers with more control, attend school and decide the path they want to take in life, wolf or human focused.

     This is a beautiful film, with magnificent animation, wonderful music and voice acting and a story that is by turns funny, sad, touching and potentially heartbreaking for the mothers in the audience. As those who have seen Hosada's previous work will expect, the animation is wonderful, full of colour, subtlety, hand drawn combined with computer generated, beautiful use of light and marvellous action sequences from the view of a running wolf. This is combined with a lovely score and some pretty songs including the theme song. The music is combined with effective use of quietness creating a very gentle and wistful atmosphere. A film like this could easily slip into sentimentality (and some may think it does), however, I believe it creates the right balance between sweetness and saccharin. This is not a fast moving film but held the attention of my pre-teen boys despite the relatively slow pace compared to US animated films. This is not a film for the cynical but rewards audiences who love a good story and beautiful visuals.

     The disc is nicely packaged in a standard Blu-ray case with a cardboard slipcover and includes a postcard.

     A wonderful new film from a rising talent who is someone to watch especially for fans of Japanese animation. Highly recommended.

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Transfer Quality

Video

     The video quality is excellent.

     The feature is presented in a 1.78:1 aspect ratio which is close to the original aspect ratio of 1.85:1. It is 1080p HD encoded using the AVC codec.

     The detail and clarity is excellent, only slightly impacted by some occasional motion blur during fast motion.

     The colour is also excellent absolutely showing off the marvellous animation.

     There were no noticeable artefacts.

     There are subtitles available in English which translate the Japanese dialogue. There is also an automatic subtitle stream which plays with the English dialogue translating onscreen Japanese text.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

     The audio quality is also excellent despite the quiet nature of this film.

     This disc contains the original Japanese soundtrack and an English dub both in Dolby TrueHD 5.1.

     Dialogue is clear and easy to understand throughout. The English dub is of high quality and certainly fits well with the film. The voice acting in both versions is of high quality.

     The music as I mentioned above is wonderful and a huge part of the success of this film. It sounds fantastic on this Blu-ray.

     The surround speakers provided a very immersive experience with the music and the sounds of the forest plus rain storms seeming to fill the room.

     The subwoofer provided excellent support to the music and the various activities within the film.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

     A good selection of extras, however a comprehensive making of would have been good.

Menu

     The menu includes music, some beautiful animation and a cute wolf print cursor.

US Crew & Actor Commentary

     It is good to have this commentary but it is really just a selection of interviews by the ADR Director with various members of the cast and crew. They don't tend to talk about the specific scenes as they play and what they do say tends to be trite and self-congratulatory. A bit of a disappointment.

Stage Greeting - Japanese Premiere (16:00)

     In Japanese with subtitles. The Japanese cast and director talking to the audience before the film's premiere about their experience and answering questions from a compere.

Stage Greeting - World Premiere Paris (16:00)

     In Japanese and French with subtitles. Cast and the director talk to the audience after the showing and answer questions.

Stage Greeting - Theme Song Premiere (9:54)

     Live performance of the theme song by the singer and composer followed by Q&A with them and the director.

Stage Greeting - Opening Day Japan (17:19)

     The director and actors talking about the film with Q&A from a compere.

Stage Greeting - 'Hana's Day' Appreciation (6:38)

     Similar again with cast and director thanking the audience for making the film a success and answering questions.

PR Videos (2:59, 3:01)

     Two extended trailers created by the Director

Promotional Video (16:09)

     EPK style making of with interview snippets, scenes from the film and some behind the scenes footage. OK but nothing too interesting.

Trailers (1:31, 0:33, 2:27)

     Original trailer, a teaser and the US Trailer.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    The Region A and Region B UK releases are basically the same. Buy Local.

Summary

    A touching, beautiful and entertaining Japanese animated film from a rising star.

    The video quality is excellent.

    The audio quality is excellent.

    The extras are worth a look but tend to be a little samey.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Daniel Bruce (Do you need a bio break?)
Saturday, January 18, 2014
Review Equipment
DVDSONY BDP-S760 Blu-ray, using HDMI output
DisplaySharp LC52LE820X Quattron 52" Full HD LED-LCD TV . Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderBuilt into amplifier. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationMarantz SR5005
SpeakersMonitor Audio Bronze 2 (Front), Bronze Centre & Bronze FX (Rears) + Sony SAW2500M Subwoofer

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