Many a coming-of-age tale about a plucky tween has been told in animation. The growing pains of a four-year-old brat, however, make for a less appealing subject. Who better to give it a shot, though, than Mamoru Hosoda, anime’s patron saint of families?
In films like Wolf Children (2012), Hosoda used folkloric characters and fantastical settings to sketch the burdens of childhood and parenthood.
Mirai is both more and less realist. In a scenario directly inspired by Hosoda’s life, young Kun becomes jealous of his parents’ affection when his sister Mirai (which means “future” in Japanese) is born. Between tantrums, he’s transported to magical encounters with relatives past and future, including a grown-up Mirai, who help him come to terms with his new role as a brother.
These episodes play out in various styles: knockabout comedy, wistful reminiscence, horror. They add dramatic punch – and jazzy CGI effects – together forming a delightful tribute to the power of a child’s imagination.
Far from being random flights of fancy, the scenes are grounded in a broader narrative about Kun’s clashes with his stressed parents. The bulbous faces and elastic expressions of anime characters suitably convey the big emotions involved.
It takes a skilled filmmaker to find wonder and poignancy in a banal story about good-natured people, and Hosoda pulls it off. Mirai received a standing ovation at Cannes: too right.
Source : CityA.M.