A short post on Mamoru Hosoda (hopefully a more in-depth version will come in form of a video, don't guarantee me on that, though).

 

"Wolf Children" is something we can all agree is a feels-heavy film, and it's no surprise that it's on the top list of many avid and non-anime fans, and it's evident why. After all, this is the director's most personal work as he recently became a father and jointly wrote the screenplay to the point where you can see the emotion dripping from the screen. While there are those who find that off-putting (including myself to an extent), the most common complaint regarding the portrayal of Hana as a supermom and the overall lack of focus on who really the protagonists are. I can certainly appreciate the intention and the genuine respect he had for the role parents play to their children and the never-ending tribulations of raising one.

There's one reason why it works: simplicity. This is followed up from all aspects of production, from the intentional absence of technology in the story all the way to the OST; the intentional minimalistic approach translates back to the story which is why it feels more unified. Hosoda's approach is simple and backed up by a single theme that resonates throughout the film, which may also be the reason why Yoshiyuki Sadamoto's designs are much more rounded and gentle compared to his usual style (see "FLCL" and "Evangelion 3.0"). If there's anything that the release of the movie solidified, it's the director's storytelling style. If "The Girl Who Leapt Through Time" was the proverbial foot that got Hosoda through the door of the circle of directors, "Wolf Children" was the stamp that put his name on an international level.

Ever since the release of "Summer Wars" and the recent PV of "The Boy and the Beast", there have been discussions of him being the next Miyazaki, and while it's understandable behind this assumption, I can't help but laugh at the comparison. Just because his movies are G/PG-rated and was originally assigned to helm "Howl's Moving Castle", people automatically point him as the successor, but not only are the two's styles completely different, but the depth of the other's artistry is incomparable. I'm assuming that's the case for a lot of people since he's the first anime director outside of Ghibli to break into the international market outside of Japan with his family-friendly movies. Hosoda is not a world builder, nor do you feel his artistic imagination is as breathtaking and contagious nearly to the extent of Miyazaki; the closest he was to achieving this was in the technologically fascinating realm of "Summer Wars", but that world was never the sole focus to begin with. Miyazaki likes the sense of wonder, has a knack for the enchanting, a phenomenal world builder, the high-level fantasy is synonymous with every aspect of his movies, yet feels slightly disconnected compared to the emotionally attached Hosoda, as he won't (or doesn't intend to) as he is already comfortable at the home front: a much more grounded man with flecks of supernatural elements sprinkled in between his films.

In other words, when you watch Hosoda's films, you feel you know him as a person, but with Miyazaki... well, let's just say that any newbie to the medium could be shocked that their hero responsible of creating some of anime's best heroines is capable of saying such harsh words to their newfound hobby.

  "Anime was a mistake."

 

"Anime was a mistake."

This might make me sound negative of Hosoda, but I'm not. He is a wonderful and talented director in his own right responsible for some amazing anime, however I feel it isn't correct to try and compare two people when their philosophy and artistic approaches are entirely contrasting. As of right now, Hosoda seems to be of one strongly influenced by the emotions of current events in his life, as his father died he was in his thirties while his mother was hospitalized for 8 years when she too passed away right before production for "Summer Wars" wrapped up (you can tell by how strong the importance of familiar bonds resonates throughout it).

So in the end... what was the point of even mentioning "Wolf Children" earlier? I guess it's to point out Hosoda's style and the direction he's been going towards as of late. Admittedly, I'm not too hyped about "The Boy and the Beast" as I'm generally not entirely interested in his work and fear he's beginning to run out of material to write about if his scope continues to be that small. But who knows, maybe his upcoming work might stray away from his typical formula and completely blow us away.

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