The number of people who read this blog is small. Smaller still is the Venn diagram overlap between those who read rayout and those who know me. That oh-so-tiny sliver of the world will likely be surprised at what my favorite part of Mamoru Hosoda’s Wolf Children turned out to be. Given the fact that I am a parent of a girl and boy, they would probably guess that I’d choose some scene focusing on Hana, specifically her parenting. They’d be wrong. Actually, the best scene in the movie, for me, involves only kids.
Suggested Soundtrack for reading – Feist “Secret Heart”
We all hide something. Be it something we did or something we believe we are, there is some part of our lives that we are hesitant to reveal to others. As Alonzo Harris says to Jake Hoyt in the 2001 film Training Day, “Everybody got secrets.” We got secrets because we are afraid of being rejected by others, a fear which may or may not be altogether rational in any given case. Remaining connected with people , so our calculus goes, is more important than them knowing and/or understanding some fact or set of facts about us.
Yuki’s secret is that she is part human, part werewolf. For the most part, she has done a decent job of hiding this from everyone, apart from her family of course. As Yuki grows closer to her classmate, Sohei, the desire within her to reveal the hidden part of herself to him also grows. This desire is also partly motivated by the guilt she feels over an incident years ago in which she injured Sohei by allowing her lupine nature to bubble up to the surface. Perhaps she wants to punish herself by being rejected or doesn’t feel worthy of his feelings for her. In my opinion, though, Yuki’s love for Sohei, rather than her guilt, is doing the heavy lifting. She wants the person she cares about to know everything about her, and this is pretty natural for someone Yuki’s age, I think.
My favorite scene in Wolf Children is when Yuki reveals her lupine identity to Sohei. She lays bare before him her deepest secret, her very self. She is completely emotionally vulnerable in that moment. Without blinking Sohei tells her in a steady, even tone that he already knows. He has always known. And, more than that, he hasn’t told a soul and will never do so in the future. Tears stream down Yuki’s cheeks as relief visibly washes over her face. She smiles, laughs, tells him she was afraid. Sohei accepts, indeed has long accepted and embraced, Yuki’s identity.
The final act of the movie does a fine job building up to this moment, and the emotional payoff is fantastic. I love that scene because the trust that is solidified between Yuki and Sohei onscreen is so palpable. Everything else is stripped away except Yuki’s revelation and entailed plea for acceptance. By stepping out on faith and showing Sohei her “other side,” she has gone against everything she has been taught by her mother. If this movie were Kaiji, we would see a manifestation of Yuki’s inner self lost at sea, tossed around by the strong current, searching for some rock to grab hold of. Sohei proves to be that rock. Going forward, they will bear together the burden of Yuki’s dual nature. The result of Yuki’s actions in this scene is the strengthening of one of the most important bonds in her life (or maybe the creation of a new kind of bond between she and Sohei?). And, it just feels so real and tangible and present. Wolf Children doesn’t succeed in everything is sets out to do, but I feel it really earned this scene.