Mirai no Mirai, shortened to Mirai for western audiences, is a coming of age story of a four year old boy. This boy is named Kun, the first born of a newlywed couple. His first four years on earth is a wonderful experience as everybody fawns over him, spoiling him silly, but things begin to change when his new-born sister usurps his place as the apple of his family’s eye.
Mirai is delicate, an innocent babe that compels everyone to dote on her as babies often do. Kun is peeved by the sudden change in everyone’s behaviours and sets out to prove that him and only him, is worthy of love and affection. The four year old is a brewing cocktail of jealousy and an incident sends him storming to the garden.
There, he encounters a strange guest… and his teenage sister from the future?
Mamoru Hosoda’s movies make me warm and fuzzy while evoking a waterfall of tears at appropriate moments. I find his movies peculiar because they don’t always involve romance but remain popular with to a wide audience. It doesn’t reach the mega success of Makoto Shinkai’s Your Name, but it has its fans.
The focus of Hosoda’s movies are typically on family, the loss of innocence with age, and loss. Not all of his movies are bangers, but that’s mostly due to personal preference than the quality of the story. My all-time favourite is still Summer Wars, followed by The Girl Who Leapt Through Time and Wolf Children.
The last two are below the first because I only watched them once. I can’t do it again. They were so overwhelming sad that when I think about them on occasion, I have to sit down to catch my breath.
For me, Mirai rests in the middle ground among his movies on par with The Boy and the Beast.
Kun’s sibling rivalry with his sister didn’t capture me as much as I wanted to. It’s not that Hosoda’s intent fails to come through, because it does, but it felt like I like an outsider witnessing events rather than being a part of them. I think my apathy towards those moments can be forgiven given my status as an only child. It doesn’t help that I lack any kind of family rivalry. I have a dog, but he stole everyone’s affections from day one, so it doesn’t count.
Time skips in the movie (both literal and figurative) occasionally fall flat, but it can’t be helped seeing as the plot deals with Kun meeting his sister’s older self. The pacing felt a little awkward because of the back and forth between past and present, but the situations themselves are immensely enjoyable. Actually, some even blew me away. Not all time travelling is done by Mirai!
The themes of the movie are clearer here than his past movies. In fact, I felt like they were a little too on the nose. Especially towards the end, it felt like the movie was reaching out and smacking me while shouting, “DO YOU GET IT?” As you can tell, it felt a little too heavy handed for my tastes.
Despite my problems with the movie, it’s still definitely worth a watch. If you’re not into family oriented films, Mirai is also still worth your time for its animation alone. It’s a spectacular treat for the eyes with bright colours, detailed set pieces and crisp animation.