Film Review

Anime Eiga Review: Mirai no Mirai

Original Release Date: July 20, 2018
Directed By: Mamoru Hosoda
Genre: Adventure, Drama, Fantasy

***Warning, the following may contain spoilers for Mirai no Mirai. Reader discretion is advised.***

Film Synopsis

In a small suburban home, a young married couple lives with their four-year-old son Kun (voiced by Moka Kamishiraishi). Being an only child, Kun has only ever known the full devoted attention of his parents. That all changes when his newborn sister, Mirai, comes home.

Nowadays, Kun feels his parents no longer love him because they don’t give all their time and energy to his wants anymore. As a result, Kun quickly grows to dislike Mirai, and he makes it a point to give his mom and dad as much trouble as possible.

However, things hardly ever go Kun’s way. In these moments, strange occurrences take place. Kun begins meeting many unique and unexpected individuals, such as the middle school version of Mirai (voiced by Haru Kuroki).

Over time, Kun will need to learn that the world doesn’t revolve around him. Like it or not, he is a big brother now, and that will not change.

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Film Positives

Anime Eiga Review: Mirai no Mirai is a follow up to Out and About: Eigakan – Mirai no Mirai. For better context, it is recommended you read Out and About: Eigakan – Mirai no Mirai. To do so, please click HERE.

I saw Mirai no Mirai in theatres just over a year before this review’s September 2019 release. In the interval between my initial viewing and this reviewing, I had forgotten quite a bit of this movie. Even if I hadn’t, there was plenty of newness to be had. I originally saw this film in Japanese with no subtitles. Thus, there was a lot I had missed. Despite that, there was one thing I did remember. Or, at least, there was something I suspected.

After my first attempt with Mirai no Mirai, I didn’t think I had enjoyed it. Now with fresh, reassuring confidence, I can definitively say that I, indeed, did not care for this movie.

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Mirai no Mirai had one major issue. Stylistically, everything about this film was pretty damn good. It was well-animated, and there was plenty of imagination and vision to go around. Unfortunately, this great artwork only served as beautiful wrapping paper draped around an empty box.

But we will get into that momentarily.

In the meantime, I am happy to admit I gained some appreciation from this second watch that went unnoticed before. Since I was better able to understand what was happening in this story, I now know Mirai no Mirai’s central family was its most robust element.

Before I continue, please keep this in mind:

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I am not a parent. I have never raised a child. I don’t have the slightest inkling of what it takes to care for a small human being twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, fifty-two weeks a year for the rest of my life. Although I don’t mind kids, I always take comfort knowing I can pass them back to someone else and enjoy a peaceful night’s sleep.

With that as my background, parenting sounds like it is one of the hardest things anyone can ever do. Yeah, family and childcaring can be a blessing when everyone is smiling, laughing, and nothing is going wrong. Except, that’s not always the case, is it?

As seen in Mirai no Mirai, protagonist Kun was a huge brat. However, he wasn’t a brat because that was part of the personality of the person he became. No, he was a brat because he was four, and I imagine the average four-year-old’s concept of how the world works is severely limited.

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Therefore, when Kun was no longer the only child, he had no possible way to wrap his young mind around that development. For his entire life, his parents had doted on him, and now, suddenly, there was this new child. And on top of that, he was expected to be a responsible older brother. How was that even remotely fair?

Naturally, we all know this situation has nothing to do with fairness. This was just how things were going to be for Kun, and his story would be him coming to terms with these changes.

But Kun was just one aspect.

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What I liked most about this film was seeing Kun’s parents handle both a newborn baby and an uncooperative son. Surprise, they were at a loss of what to do, and that was humbling to see. Kun’s mom and dad didn’t have all the answers. They were simply doing the best they could. More importantly, I loved it when this film showed these two characters reflecting on their current roles as parents and recalling their own childish behaviors when they were Kun’s age.

At its core, Mirai no Mirai was a movie about maturing, and maturing is a process that doesn’t stop at a certain age. It keeps happening until the day we die. I can’t tell you how many times my own mother has called me out when I’ve complained about something some child did.

“You were once like that,” she tells me, and Mirai no Mirai had a grasp on that concept. Too bad trouble started to arise whenever this movie attempted to further explore this point.

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Film Negatives

It’s almost hard to believe this film was only ninety-three minutes. Considering everything that happened in it, I wouldn’t blame anyone if they thought it was significantly longer. Then again, this movie probably felt dense because there was minimal forward progression.

From a more self-centered point of view, I am happy knowing there are sections of Mirai no Mirai I still don’t understand. That tells me, even though my Japanese abilities aren’t the best, many of the questions I had with this movie was due to the story not making sense.

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For instance, I hadn’t and continue to have no clue as to why Kun began going on his fantasy adventures. I think I already said it as well as I could in my original Eigakan post:

While watching the film, I was working under the impression that these moments were hyper-realistic figments of a small boy’s imagination that [could] interact with the world around them. With that already being a stretch, things got even more complicated when Kun started “imagining” people he would have had no business knowing and, therefore, couldn’t have imagined them in the first place.

All I can add to that is:

I think a literal family tree was involved.

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Even after all the scenes where Kun met different versions of his sister, dog, mother, and others, he didn’t change that much. He would often revert to selfishness no matter what he ran into. It took the final adventure for everything to click, and to do that, this story had to scare the living hell out of a little kid.

I suppose the fear of damnation is one way to keep a child in line. However, Mirai no Mirai doing this negated everything that happened prior in the story. I don’t believe Kun learned a lesson of what it means to be a good big brother. I think he just didn’t want to go on the spooky-looking demon train.

In the end, I’m not sure what it was Mirai no Mirai wanted to say. There were enough fancy visuals and self-reflection to suggest there was an overarching message. Sadly, that message got muddle by a story that preferred to run in place.

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Final Thoughts

It took a year to confirm what my gut already told me.

This film was delightful to look at, but there wasn’t much else to it.

Here was a story that boasted interesting and relatable themes. Then whatever the plot was trying to say, it got lost in some grand adventure. Instead of gradually moving forward, this movie took one big leap at the end, which made everything that came before rather pointless.

For that, Mirai no Mirai is one you can skip.

But these are just my thoughts. What are yours? Have you seen this film? How would you advise Mirai no Mirai? Leave a comment down below because I would love to hear what you have to say.

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For Anime Hajime, I’m LofZOdyssey, and I’ll see you next time.

1 comment

  1. This is probably my least favorite of Hosoda’s works so far. While the artwork was wonderful, I was stunned at the amount of raw anger in the film. Not at all what I expected from the director of such touching stories as Wolf Children, etc. When, during the after-feature interview, he said that the story was based largely upon his own children, it just gave me the creeps. . .

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