“Mirai” stars Moka Kamishiraishi, Haru Kuroki, Gen Hoshino, Kumiko Aso, Koji Yakusho, and Masaharu Fukuyama. Released in Japan on July 20, 2018, the film is about a boy who encounters a series of events in his house’s garden.
The film is written and directed by Mamoru Hosoda, who also directed films such as “The Girl Who Leapt Through Time”, “Summer Wars”, and “The Boy and the Beast”. Sometimes when you have no new movies to see in the theater this week, go for the next possible solution: watch an anime. Throughout most of my years, I’ve been attached to several anime films and shows, including the ones from Studio Ghibli, but if there’s one Japanese film that I haven’t quite seen yet, it’s the one that is helmed by acclaimed director Mamoru Hosoda. I have been hearing how good his recent films are, but for some reason, I couldn’t find the time to watch any of them. When I found out that his newest film is playing at my theater, I figured that this would be a perfect opportunity for me to introduce myself to his filmography. For this review, I will be looking at the original Japanese version that was released back in July because why not?
The story is a simple tale that deals with having a new member of a family into their lives from a child’s point of view. It’s sort of like Dreamworks Animation’s “The Boss Baby”, but in the form of an anime. The major difference between the two films is how the story is constructed to fully emphasize the topic to audiences young and old. Unsurprisingly, the story in “Mirai” is much more thoughtful and bold than “The Boss Baby”. While it does involve dealing with a new sibling, it also has the main character, Kun (Kamishiraishi), encountering different family members, both past and future, and how his misadventures with them help him become a better person as well as a better sibling. This is something that either Pixar or Hayao Miyazaki could’ve come up with, but Hosoda was able to beat them to it with his own blend of storytelling and style. The narrative structure can either be episodic or repetitive at times, but from my personal standpoint, it’s mandatory because the main character is a four-year-old boy, and four-year-old boys can be a bit hasty when things don’t go their way. There were plenty of fantasy elements that were imaginative, humorous, and colorful due to its fantastic use of hand-drawn animation and CGI, but Hosoda never lost sight of the film’s personal and emotional touch that’ll inspire both adults and kids. Speaking of which, the animation style in the film offered plenty of creativity and striking visuals that made the other Japanese animated films so appealing in the first place. However, like the other pieces of anime I experienced beforehand, the way this film displays the facial expressions on certain characters kind of weirded me out a bit. I wouldn’t call this a flaw by any means since that’s how this type of animation was supposed to look like, but there were a couple of moments that I thought were a bit unsettling, including the one that scared the living daylights out of me. This is one of the things in the film that might scare a few young kids, but that’s just my minor concern since everything else seems appropriate for family viewing. I also enjoyed the musical score by Masakatsu Takagi. It doesn’t top some of Joe Hisaishi’s famous scores, but there were certain pieces that I thought were heartwarming and endearing.
Overall, “Mirai” continues Japan’s tradition of crafting vibrant hand-drawn animated films filled with imagination and heart. Filled with stunning animation and humane storytelling, the film showcases Mamoru Hosoda’s passion towards the art in such an inspiring matter. Maybe someday I’ll look at some other films made by Hosoda because this film made me realize how talented this guy is. Hayao Miyazaki is still my favorite Japanese animation director so far, but I wouldn’t say that Hosoda didn’t come close to being my second favorite. If you have a similar problem like this before or if you’re a fan of Japanese animation, I would highly recommend this one to you.