Review of 'Mirai'

mirai.jpg Four-year old Kun (voiced by Moka Kamishiraishi) is coming to grips with the arrival of a new addition to his family: A sister named Mirai. Burning with jealousy now he has to share his parent's attention he experiences fantastic visions while in the small garden of their house where family members from different eras visit to help him understand more about life. His first experience is when his dog is transformed into a young man full of energy but later he meets Mirai as a young lady (voiced by Haru Kuroki) and his great-grandfather as a motorcycle mechanic after the second world war.

I saw this as part of the London Film Festival where we had a recorded introduction by the director Hamoru Hosoda who explained that this is a story about history, our role in it and how it repeats with the film, by the end, resolving many of the mysteries it contains. He entreats us to channel our inner 4-year old and watch it through their eyes but I have to say I think this, perhaps, is a bit misguided as although most of the story is through Kun's eyes some of the topics are very mature as we experience the changes to the lives of his two parents (indeed, there is a particular scene towards the end with dead bodies in the war that may trouble younger viewers). There are many amusing child-like moments here such as when the human version of the dog, the older child Mirai and Kun are attempting to put some dolls away (to avoid unhappiness later in Mirai's life) where they have to sneak around beneath the nose of Kun's father as he works on his computer.

The animation here is absolutely incredible with the hyper-realism of the landscape but still with anime-style human characters inhabiting it (large eyes, exaggerated expressions, etc). Much of the action takes place in Kun's house which itself plays a central role to the story with rooms on four different levels on an incline with floor-to-ceiling windows allowing you, as a young child, to see throughout the house (Kun's father is an architect). The animation turns to the fantastic only, of course, in Kun's visions and then all bets are off (his trip to a busy Tokyo train station is absolutely incredible).

I am not entirely sure who this film would appeal to but we are certainly talking about high-quality Japanese animation from a master director. Perhaps sit back and take it all in for what it is, not reading too much into it. Yes, perhaps, see it as a four-year old tempered with the understanding of someone older. If you watch it with younger people it may be a good idea to be around to answer any questions that it might raise for them…

Rating: “Nearly perfect, but not quite”

Review Date: 2018-10-13

Directed by: Mamoru Hosoda

Studio: Dentsu

Year: 2018

Length: 98 minutes

Genre: Japanese Animation

Other reviewed films by Mamoru Hosoda: