‘Wolves or People?’
Lupine Loss and the Liquidation of the Nuclear Family in Mamoru Hosoda’s Wolf Children (2012)
Keywords:3/11 manga, becoming-wolf, Mamoru Hosoda, Wolf Children, making kin, anime
This essay examines an alternative eco-familial reading of Mamoru Hosoda’s manga film, Wolf Children (2012) through an analysis of Japanese extinction anxieties further exacerbated by 3/11. By reading the film through a minor history of the extinction of the Honshu wolf as a metaphor for 3/11, I argue that an examination of the degradation of Japanese preindustrial “stem family” and the fabulative expression of species cooperation and hybridity can more effectively be framed by the popular Japanese imaginary as a lupine apocalypse. In a reading of Deleuze and Guattari on becoming-animal, the omnipresence of lupine loss in the institutions of the home, work, and schools of contemporary Japan, interrogated in many manga, anime, and video game series like Wolf Children, further reveals the ambivalence of post-3/11 artists as they approach family and the State in seeking out more nonhuman depictions of Japan. In this reading of becoming-wolf, Hosoda’s resituates the family/fairy-tale film as a complex critique of the millennial revival of a nuclear Japan in the age of economic and environmental precarity and collapse. I hope to explore the nuances and contradictions of Hosoda’s recapitulation of family through a celebration of Deleuzo-Guattarian pack affects and an introduction of the possibilities of “making kin,” as Donna Haraway explains, at the ends of the Anthropocene.
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