Mirai is one of two Japanese films nominated for an Oscar this year, and the sixth to ever be nominated in the animated feature category. Directed by Mamoru Hosada, Mirai is a simple story that is executed in an original way. A young boy’s life is turned upside down when his parents bring home his new baby sister, Mirai. Through a series of vignettes, we see the young boy, Kun, in all his anxieties and in all his growth as he adjusts to his new life as a big brother.
The narrative taps into the jealousy and insecurity that Kun feels because he is suddenly no longer the sole object of his parents’ attention. Being the recipient of so much love, and having it taken away, results in a child that feels lost and angry, with both emotions displayed in various ways throughout the film. But with the selfishness that comes with being four years old, Kun neglects to realize just how overwhelming a task it is to raise a newborn.
Hosada is able to create an overall nostalgic experience, especially for those who have siblings. What’s most interesting is the world Kun creates for himself in order to cope (whether intentionally or not). This is where the vignettes come in, introducing Kun to the older, ‘future’ version of Mirai, his dog in human form, his mother as a young girl, and his great-grandfather as a young man. Through these scenes, there are many lessons to learn, and the ultimate purpose is for Kun to grow more sympathetic and accepting of the fact that his life will no longer be the same.
The film is told through an imaginative, childlike perspective, which can be a little too confusing at times, especially narratively. But when Kun leaps into his fantasy world, it’s visually wondrous. His environment is constantly morphing into one beautiful landscape after another, and it takes us further into the mind of our young protagonist. It’s simplistic, but somehow incredibly detailed at the same time. The film’s hand-drawn anime style sets it apart from its fellow nominees, making it the oddball in the animated feature category.
It’s a film that will be hit or miss for children because its message is one that only adults will be able to fully comprehend. And while Mirai isn’t the strongest film in its category, its tale of love and acceptance, through Kun coming to terms with being an older brother, is a touching one.
Editor’s Note: The Oscar-nominated animated short filmAnimal Behaviourwill also be screening before the film.
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