Four-year-old Kun waits impatiently by the window for the arrival of his parents, and by association his new sibling. While the knowledge hasn’t quite set in, he’s excited to see the little bundle of joy. But when baby Mirai arrives, he starts to realise that he’s no longer the only person to get his parents’ attention and love. Fuelled by jealousy, he begins to act out and make life difficult for his family — His only solace is the garden that sits in the middle of their elaborate home, where his imagination can roam free. But when a teenage Mirai appears in front of him, he starts to learn what it means to be a good older brother.
Hosoda has always had a skill for portraying human dramas on screen, as can be seen in his look at motherhood in Wolf Children, and fatherhood in The Boy and the Beast. In Mirai he turns his eye towards children, and the bond between siblings. Now a father to two children himself, with a daughter named Mirai, it makes sense that Hosoda has chosen to focus on this theme. Where Wolf Children looked at the struggles of raising kids as a single parent, Mirai shows how its young protagonist matures to accept, and protect, his sister. Hosoda does this with his character’s imagination and taste for adventure in mind, as Kun travels back and forth through time to go on a beautiful, fantastical journey.
Each adventure that the four-year-old goes on is more moving than the last, somehow relating to a problem he is having -or believes to have- in his home life. He meets his mother when she was a child when he becomes overwhelmed by the feeling that she’s not giving him enough attention, and later meets his great grandfather when he struggles to ride a bike. These may seem like small challenges, but for a child they can be as tough as climbing a mountain and Hosoda treats it as such in the film. His narrative has a way of moving its audience while also lifting their spirits and leaving a smile on their faces.
Mirai is a feel-good film that captures a child’s imagination and what it’s like to be young with spectacular flair. Like Kun, viewers are sent on charming adventures that is sure to captivate from start to finish, and they will be drawn into the story thanks to the characters’ delightful personalities. With its stunning animation and imaginative narrative, Hosoda proves once again that he’s a force to be reckoned with in the industry. While the film might not be as action-packed as The Boy and The Beast or Summer Wars, it is as emotional as Wolf Children and The Girl Who Leapt Through Time. Mirai has a knack for combining the best of all Hosoda’s part work, and it’s a joy to see.
Mirai opens in cinemas nationwide from Friday 2nd November. Please visit miraifilm.co.uk for more information on subtitled and dubbed screenings. #miraifilm