Mirai Review: Hosoda’s animated masterpiece is full of child-like wonder

Acclaimed anime director Mamoro Hosoda takes viewers on a magical and heartwarming adventure through a young boy’s family tree in his new film, Mirai.

The film follows a young child named Kun (Jaden Waldman) as he struggles to deal with changes in his parents and his life as the arrival of his new baby sister, Mirai (Victoria Grace), causes less attention to be on him. He finds escape, though, through a magical garden in his house that allows him to travel through time and understand his family better through relatives he meets along the way.

The story almost feels episodic and I wasn’t sure how I felt about it at first. However, it completely grew on me as the film went on and it actually makes the storytelling in Mirai so much stronger. With each time that Kun wanders through a past or future family member’s life, the issue that started in this instance is fixed by the end of that part of the story. It frankly benefits the film by allowing each family members’ story to be given relatively equal attention and not trying to resolve of Kun’s issues in the final act. Its stops the film’s story from feeling rushed and allows the viewer to not have to be so diligent of keeping track of so many plot points.

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The film’s score is also full of magic as it makes each area that Kun explore feel incredibly different from the last. PHOTO: Kotaku

This kind of storytelling also fits the mindset of Kun perfectly. Think about issues you might have had with your parents when you’re five. Often times they weren’t these long-standing issues or would generally be resolved in a short time, so it actually makes sense that issues like not wanting the wear a certain colored pants over another and having little attention from parents would be resolved in a short time rather than over the entire movie.

 

Each different time that Kun visits another relative, audiences are treated to beautiful sequences of animation that make each person feel unique. Kun visiting and seeing his great-grandfather’s life actually feels like old-styled Japan and the colors change to make it feel older. The same is seen when visiting other relatives and the use of colors, tones, and animations will make viewers really feel like they are being transported to different worlds.

Mirai is also something that both parents and children can relate to and not just through the film’s more comedic moments, but also through the film’s story beats. It’s a film that focuses on bringing families together and having genuine moments that people can relate to. There moments for parents that recognize the struggles of being a good parent, being attentive and showing love to everyone, and even thinking back to relatives and their stories. Then, there are even moments that kids can relate to like learning how to ride a bike, struggles with siblings, and the craving for love from parents.

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The growing relationship between Mirai (left) and Kun (right) also feels genuine with them not exactly fully appreciating each other at first but growing to see each other differently. PHOTO: Otaku USA Magazine

Not to mention, the voice-acting from the likes of Victoria Grace, John Cho, and Rebecca Hall is excellent and really evokes each of their character’s personality. John Cho is especially great as Kun and Mirai’s father as he really brings out his character’s more loving personality even through tough parenting moments.

Hosoda has truly crafted a story that’s full of child-like wonder and is literally perfect for anyone to watch. It has some great emotional moments, especially towards the film’s finale, that anyone can relate to. Mirai is undoubtedly one of best animated films of the year and deserves any and every sort of recognition possible.

5

Watch the Trailer Here:

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