Mirai (2018)



Daniel Hancock, Journalist

Mirai is a 2018 Japanese animated film written and directed by Mamoru Hosoda, whose other notable works include Wolf Children and Summer Wars. It tells the story of a young boy named Kun who struggles with feelings of jealousy and neglect after his parents bring home a new baby. As the story progresses, he receives help from family members, including his sister from the future, in working through these new experiences. Throughout the course of the film, Kun learns more about his family’s history and his own place in it.

At its core, Mirai is a charmingly simple film about childhood, family, and the ties that bring us together. Full of hilariously honest depictions of childhood and family life, it explores the dynamic between siblings and looks at the struggles and joys of parenting. The film expertly captures the behavior and worldview of children, punctuating its slice-of-life direction with moments of childlike fantasy and imagination.

Visually, Mirai is well animated and does a good job at blending both CGI and traditional animation. Hosoda’s designs are minimalistic yet surprisingly detailed when they need to be. The soundtrack is subtle but very complementary, playing right along with the film. In terms of pacing, the film does seem to falter towards the final act but picks itself up to tie everything together at the end in a thoughtful and satisfying way.

I’ve seen several of Hosoda’s works, but for me this is his best yet. The film was a deeply personal project for him, and the finished product shows. Mirai reflected many of my own personal experiences with growing up and family life. Not knowing what to expect going in, I came out enamored with its childlike wonder.