With a deep, meaningful story and beautiful animation, Mamoru Hosoda shows once again what a creative and talented mind he has with the 2018 award winning film Mirai (未来のミライ).
Mirai tells the story of three-year-old Kun as he learns how to deal with the arrival of his new baby sister Mirai. Once the center of his parents’ and family’s universe, he now struggles with the unfamiliar feeling of sharing the attention with a cute baby.
Acting like any emotional three-year-old would with frequent tantrums, Kun soon repeatedly finds himself in fantastical, though (as we learn later on) grounded adventures through time.
In a bit of slice-of-life storytelling, Kun’s apparent journeys open his eyes to the world and family around him. As we get a taste of the present-day family dynamic, we too get a taste of the past and future and how it all relates to the idea of one’s whole self.
The film evokes the same message as a famous quote of Filipino hero Jose Rizal:
“Ang hindi marunong lumingon sa pinangalingan ay hindi makakarating sa paroroonan.”
“He who does not know how to look back at where he came from will never get to his destination.”
It is a message that is very universal, but perhaps much stronger in certain cultures. That is, always making sure to know where you’ve come from. Your family’s history, who your family is, your culture and heritage. Knowing some or all of that helps understand how you are who you are today.
Though many of Mamoru Hosada’s previous works are much more fantastical and adventurous, Mirai stays grounded in a way that uses the fantasy elements to emphasize what are otherwise quieter scenes.
Hosada also uses the animation to present almost jarring visual cues that highlight Kun’s journey and learnings.
Each of Kun’s “adventures” reveal a piece of his family history that help him grow and understand things he may not even have had the capacity to comprehend before. He doesn’t necessarily grow overnight, but his eyes are open to key things that stay with him as he does grow up.
Mirai‘s slice-of-life within a slice-of-life story effortlessly brings about a sincere sense of nostalgia and emotional resonance that many a viewer can relate to. Ultimately, Mirai shows how every little moment can shape one’s life and world in the future. And it is important to be aware and to recognize that.
No question, Mamoru Hosoda is a talented and creative mind. One that can deliver emotional and affecting stories that resonate long after the credits roll. Pair that great storytelling with stunning visuals, and you can be sure to remember that experience afterwards. And perhaps, give you some food for thought as well.