Anime director Mamoru Hosoda’s latest film Wolf Children ( Ookami Kodomo No Ame To Yuki ) is not only one of the best movies I’ve seen this year, but the art book is positively one of the most spectacular; not just in quality, but in quantity too. Running at close to 300 pages, the contents are in-depth and very comprehensive – I’m breaking up the review into 2 parts to better showcase the amazing art work, starting with the background art.
I think the book reproduces most, if not all the background plates used in the film. Each plate is annotated by its scene and cut numbers, as well as a small paragraph of production notes. ( in Japanese only ) Art direction was supervised by Ono Hiroshi , co-founder of background art studio Fuuga.
(above and below) Sights like this are usually re-produced using photographic references from actual locations in Japan, as the creators did in The Girl Who Leapt Through Time. Check out this, this and this posts. This bond to reality establishes a sense of familiarity and connection, enhancing the emotional resonance of the scenes.
(above) Digital mattes are also used in the creation of Hana’s main household in the mountains, where the principal characters spend a significant amount of screen time in. The digital background and set allows the filmmakers better control of camera angles and composition, which can be manipulated in 3D space. More details on the artistic/technical approaches are discussed in the book.
(above right) While not explicitly stated, I would like to think this shot is a nod from Hosoda-san to Miyazaki’s Totoro.
In summary, this book is a steal. With so much content, the publishers could have easily split the background art and layout/character design into 2 different books, increasing their profit, but they generously included everything in this one hearty volume. I highly recommend interested parties to pick up the book before it goes out of print.
I’ll cover the layout/character design and more in Part II.
“Wolf Children (Ookami Kodomo)” art book details :
Dimensions – 29.6 x 22.8 x 2.8 cm
Soft cover, 285 pages
Full color/ B&W, in Japanese
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