Directed by Mamoru Hasoda
Featuring the voice talents of Haru Koroki, Moka Kamishiraishi, Gen Hoshino, Kōji Yakusho, Kumiko Asou
The birth of a sibling is a joyous time for many, but not for Kun. Four years old and spoilt rotten, he sees the arrival of baby sister Mirai as competition for his parents’ love. That is, until magical encounters with an older Mirai and family past, present and future send the siblings on an intimate journey through time and space, to confront Kun’s uncertain feelings and prepare him to become the big brother he needs to be.
There’s more than a whiff of Pan’s Labyrinth about Mamoru Hasoda’s beautiful tale of sibling rivalry, all filtered through the coping mechanism of a child’s imagination. It’s fantastical, charming, and brimming with a warmth that’s both narratively and creatively impressive, something which will guarantee that you’re swept up in this world of intimate wonder.
Drawing from his own childhood memories, Hasoda has made a film full of the minutia of being a brother or sister, and embellished it with those moments of escapism that we wish we could conjure up as adults. In short, Mirai is a film for just about everyone.
The family dynamics are presented in such a culturally relevant way, which means that the film doesn’t shy away from the difficulty of parenthood, and modern parenting at that. So we get the stresses of a work-from-home father who’s trying to look after a new-born, all whilst a precocious toddler does all he can to get his attention. Striking a balance are moments in which the joys of raising children are abundant, and as a result, for a film wrapped up in a veil of fantasy, Mirai always feels grounded in reality.
Having said that, the flights of fancy are beautifully animated, with colourful characters veering from playful, such as the anthropomorphic transformation of the family dog, to sombre, as Kun gets to spend time with his war-hero grandfather. It’s the appearance of his time-travelling sister from the future that drives the most moving thread of Hosada’s story, as this small boy, who has thrown tantrums, and even smacked his sibling on the head, begins to warm to the idea that she might not be the wailing demon he’d pegged her for. It’s delicately handled, subtly played out, and thoroughly believable as the emotional thought process of a small child.
The themes and scope might not be as grandiose as Ghibli, but this is just as enchanting and equally affecting as any anime from the last decade.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film ★ ★ ★ ★ / Movie ★ ★ ★ ★
Matt Rodgers – Follow me on Twitter