Capsule Review & Commentary: Mirai of the Future

Director: Mamoru Hosoda

Animation Production: Studio Chizu

Music: Masakatsu Takagi

Genres: Slice of Life

Season: Spring/Summer 2018

Final say: CERTIFIED FUNOMENAL

This is magnificent cinema.

In continuing this cinematic quest for almost a decade, director Hosoda’s filmography had no doubt demonstrated a particular flavour of motivation that drives the theme of family, a tradition continued by Mirai of the Future. The family now numbers four.

Having attended the Sydney Film Festival back in June, I was fortunate to catch this picture a full month before it opened in screens around Japan. The lukewarm reception in its home turf so far was certainly a disappointment, as I sincerely believe this to be Hosoda’s most accomplished tango with the family theme yet.

Mirai possesses a ferociously beating heart, its intoxicating optimism and love for life only barely matched by the spicy brashness of our main toddler Kun, whose joyous, understandably selfish and curious whims carries the audience through a grand adventure that is deceptively intimate and small-scaled. The entire film takes place in Kun’s backyard.

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Yet, Mirai takes us soaring backwards, forwards and through time, abstract dimensions and into the minds of undeniably idealised portraits of people from the past, human beings whose endurance and love have unknowingly bloomed and touched Kun’s very existence. Whether or not Kun realises this or not at his current tender age is an open-ended question that only makes this story all the more enduring, because it elegantly links back to what Mirai was preaching from the start: the miracle of life is a loud, messy and infuriating ordeal indeed, but a precious miracle nonetheless.

What’s even more elegant about Mirai, is its candid approach in depicting a young modern family. The film does wrestle perspective away from Kun’s unquenchable imagination (the catalyst for the film’s fantastical joy rides) to his parents, who go through their own story arc of bringing home Mirai, Kun’s new little sister and integrating her into their routines. No doubt Hosoda is literally tip-toeing into new ground here, with an animated family film that depicts such natural family life with gentle and contemporary artistry.

Mirai of the Future reigns as Mamoru Hosoda’s best project to date. It is a near-perfect combination of his best ideas from previous family-themed films, and demonstrates a well-oiled sophistication in its coherent and masterfully paced storytelling paired with an elegant premise and…just sheer bombast of optimism and preachy sentiment, which it proudly announces to the world with no shame whatsoever.

Recommendations: Alternate Titles

Whisper of the Heart

75921

An intensely captured slice of young artistic self-discovery, magnified by a near-forgotten late Studio Ghibli master. R.I.P Yoshifumi Kondo.

From Up on Poppy Hill

32547

Another Ghibli production that deserves more viewership for its respectful and candid exploration of youth and the search for purpose and identity that comes with it.

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