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Watching 'Mirai'

A Quick Review of the New Anime Film by Mamoru Hosoda

Mirai is the latest film to be directed by Mamoru Hosoda, who also directed the likes of The Girl Who Leapt Through Time, Summer Wars, and Wolf Children. Just like the films listed, Mirai is a Hosoda film through and through. The most recognizable signifier being his distinct art style which has been a staple since the days of the original Digimon movie.

The basic story of Mirai is as follows. It is about a young boy who discovers his garden is magic, meeting the older version of his younger sister from the future. In addition the garden allows him to go to both the past and the future letting him meet his relatives from the various time periods.

As is the case with all of Hosoda’s films, Mirai is a breathtaking film combining both CGI and 2D animation masterfully, while making full use of the animation medium. Alongside the familiar character models, the environment changes from a suburban home, to colourful sweeping landscapes, to out right terrifying imagery at points. What is brilliant is that none of these changes seem out of place within the context of the film.

Due to Mirai being a feature made to be released in cinema, many of the corners that are cut in series are not present. If there is anything negative to be said in the animation, and this is a nit pick, it is that they reused a segment of animation and colour graded it to look like a different time of day. A nit pick if there ever was one. Aside from that there is hardly a reused frame, and the entire film felt incredibly smooth to watch.

The music in the film serves its intended purpose. It is in the background and in the scenes where it is present, it elevates the mood of the scene. No one track stands out over the other, and it is a soundtrack that you will forget straight after seeing the film. That being said the most memorable scenes were the ones that had the soundtrack performing at it’s peak. In addition the sound design of the film is fantastic from the roar of an approaching train to the whistle of a blade of grass.

The voice acting in the film is stellar, with some actors from previous Hosoda films returning: Haru Kuroki, who was in both Wolf Children and The Boy and the Beast, Koji Yakusho from The Boy and the Beast, and Gen Hashino, who was in last year's The Night is Short, Walk on Girl. Plus, there was a newcomer to voice acting, Moka Kamishiroishi, in her debut anime as the lead of the film, Kun.

The character of Kun being the way he is, Hosoda in his writing and direction managed to get a very balanced performance from Kamishiroishi, creating a frustrating, endearing and relatable character. I would go so far as to say that if Kun did not work in the movie, the entire movie would have collapsed in on itself, and as such it is commendable that they got a character who could have gone so wrong, right.

Mirai is a fascinating film which looks at childhood, adolescence, and adulthood from the perspective of a child while including elements of time travel and fantasy. It shows an honest look at childhood from the perspective of both the child and the adult, Adolescence form the perspective of the child and the teen, and finally adulthood from the perspective of all three. What this creates is a portrait of this one family which is relatable, and charming. Reminding us of the moments in our own past, reflecting on our present, and hinting at out future in a very heartwarming manner.

In terms of faults, I would consider them to be nit picks. As mentioned earlier the reuse of animation, and in addition to that I felt that the film was dragging ever so slightly around the middle of the movie.

In all, it was a wonderful experience and one I recommend if the chance ever arises.

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Watching 'Mirai'
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