Mirai film review: Mamoru Hosoda’s poignant animation blends fantasy with family

When a young boy becomes jealous of his new baby sister, his vivid imagination leads him into new worlds where he meets relatives from different eras. This is a deeply personal and touching work

PUBLISHED : Monday, 20 August, 2018, 3:19pm
UPDATED : Monday, 20 August, 2018, 3:19pm

3.5/5 stars

Themes of fantasy and family combine in Mamoru Hosoda’s Mirai, a quietly observed animation inspired by the Japanese writer-director’s own experiences of parenthood. After taking more fantastical flights of fancy in Wolf Children (2012) and The Boy and the Beast (2015), this latest adventure benefits from a more familiar domestic setting – home to Kun (voiced by Moka Kamishiraishi), a young boy, and his parents.

This comfortable existence is somewhat disrupted with the arrival of Mirai (Haru Kuroki), Kun’s newborn sister, and he soon becomes jealous of all the attention she is getting. Kun’s vivid imagination leads him into new worlds, not least when he’s paid a visit by a regal prince (who, we soon guess, is actually the family dog Yukko). Other imagined visitors include Kun’s late grandfather and a grown-up version of Mirai.

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Hosoda’s light touch brings the story to life with bright visuals and good humour. It feels decidedly progressive, too, not least with Kun and Mirai’s architect father being the one to stay at home and look after the children while their mother goes out to work.

This narrative is simpler than fans of Hosoda’s work might be used to. Mirai is a film that will appeal to younger viewers, but adults will also be taken on a moving journey thanks to some wonderful touches – like Kun’s overwhelming visit to the railway station. While this may not have the ambition or depth of a Studio Ghibli animation, it’s still a deeply personal and touching work.

Mirai opens on August 23

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