Global folklore is filled with instances of humans endowed with animalistic features. From the Scottish selkies, who shifted between seal and person by shedding their skin, the sailor-ensnaring sirens of Greek mythology, to the swan maidens, featured prominently in Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake, a multitude of cultures depict human-creature hybrids. Even Christianity habitually depicts angels as celestial beings with flowing, avian-like wings.
Visit Japan and you’ll undoubted spot dozens of statues of sacred or respected animals. Often serving as messengers for Shinto or Buddhist deities, they can be spotted outside shrines, or in the case of Maneki-Neko, outside nearly every restaurant or small retail store. According to one folktale, a kindly but destitute shopkeeper took in a stray cat. In gratitude, the feline sat at the front entrance, waving customers in, bring about a chance of luck for the owner.
This kind of benevolence isn’t just a part musty mythology. Study the films of Hayao Miyazaki or Mamoru Hosoda and it’s hard to overlook the motif. From a loose interpretation of Hans Christian Andersen’s The Little Mermaid in Studio Ghibli’s Ponyo, to Wolf Children’s fable of hybridized human-wolf family, modern animation is satiated with examples. Frequently, these kinds of tales are heart-melting, illuminating the importance of animals in our lives.
That type of uplifting reminder is also at the heart of How to Raise a Wolf Girl (Kemono Musume no Sodatekata) the latest visual novel from Los Angeles-based Sekai Project. Blending slice-of-life with comedic sequences, it’s one of the poignant tales that will make you wish the subject matter was real. Without spoiling anything, you’ll definitely want a wolf girl of your own, someone who will respond to you with an adorable “awoo!”.
How to Raise a Wolf Girl opens with protagonist Shuuji Kousaka, his friend Kana Kagaya, and Kana’s father, all working in the countryside. Using his day off to assist, it’s obvious that Shuuji is a respectable type, while Kana is a bit more mischievous. Besides flirting with the lead, she also likes to toy with her father’s emotions, telling him that pair plan to marry one day. Rural fathers don’t take sudden declarations like that very well, resulting in some jovial banter that helps establish a playful tone.
The breezy tone continues with Shuuji and Kana going up a neighboring hillside to clean a shrine, and for the later to continue seducing the lead. But the tone drastically changes when they spy a caged kemonomimi caught in an animal trap. With adorable pink ears that incessantly twitch and a matching fail, the captive in definitely cute, but her communication is limited to whines and howls.
What follows is plotline that moves at a surprisingly quick pace. Other novels might have dawdled over the decision to bring her home, but How to Raise a Wolf Girl squanders little time. After feeding her, the family decides to give her a bath, which would have been a customary opportunity for some fan-service or at least a bit of lascivious banter. That’s not to say that the game isn’t afraid of lascivious, you can romance either Kana, or Iroha, the wolf girl with a R18 patch from Denpasoft showing a bit of mosaiced skin across five sex scenes. Say it with me, “Awooo!”
Instead of trying to manufacture melodrama, developer Sweet & Tea adopts a more conventional route, with Iroha blending in and lending a hand to family duties like cooking. That’s not to suggest that the four to seven hour read is tedious or detached. Along with a multitude of comedic moments, there’s an instance or two of tear-letting. Just don’t expect much in the way of decisions. While there are a few choices across How to Raise a Wolf Girl, they customarily don’t have a large impact on events. Typically, the novel acknowledges your choice before getting back to its largely linear storyline.
Aesthetically, Wolf Girl is an unqualified success. There’s often a schism in the art style between rural settings and building interiors, with the former a bit more impression while habitats reveal detail. Motomiya Mitsuki’s character portraits lean toward the later, with each cast member impeccably drawn and expressing emotion through a multitude of facial expressions and graceful animations. Occasionally, sprites leap out of frame to signal closeness, which is a remarkable effect that distinguishes Wolf Girl from many of its peers.
Sonically, the novel complements its visual charms with a pleasing selection of melodic tracks. Instrumentation is deftly handled, with synth leads and basslines accompanied by elements like a xylophone solo or a curious percussion riff. Of course, when Wolf Girl reaches for sentimentality, expect the kind of plaintive piano melody that will tug at your heartstrings. While the voice actors all deliver deft performances, it’s Yuzuhara Miu turn as Iroha that steals the show.
How to Raise a Wolf Girl was played on PC
with review code provided by the publisher.