Reviewed by: Jane Fae

"Thumbs up here for graphics that are colourful, inventive and always interesting." | Photo: Courtesy of Cannes Directors' Fortnight

The thing about animé....the amazing thing about animé...is something all too often overlooked, or dismissed. And that is its ability to pull the reader out of their comfort zone and into worlds and places where unusual, impossible things happen.

Unusual? No. Beyond unusual. Because without the limits of actors and special effects and even CGI, animé is a window to ideas that are new, different, challenging.

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Which is a good start to Mirai. It is, on the surface, a simple story about a spoiled 4-year old boy, Kun (voiced by Moka Kamishiraishi) who must learn to cope when he is joined by a new baby sister, Mirai (voiced by Haru Kuroki). Cue an honest, real view of how the new arrival turns the life of every member of Kun's family upside down: causing his mum (voiced by Kumiko Aso) to question her parenting abilities; and challenging his father (voiced by Gen Hoshino) to step up to his own good-dad rhetoric.

Even the dog finds his comfortable existence changing and not obviously for the better!

It's an interesting choice of focus, and one, for the most part, overlooked by the film industry. Because where's the drama?

Silly question: of course there is drama. Because there is change and resentment and there are truths to be spoken. On its own, that would make this an interesting film and all praise to director Mamoru Hosoda for tackling this left-field topic.

But then – because this is animé - add something else. Add Kun's sister, Mirai, all grown up, returning from the future to help guide him through these difficult times. (No coincidence, perhaps, that Mirai is Japanese for 'future'). Add a visit to Kun's mum – her naughty child self, at least - to his grandfather when he was still a young and dashing motorcyclist and his grandma and a host of characters from up and down Kun's family tree, which here exists both as physical entity, growing in his back yard and something else, something supernatural.

Together they take the random fragments of Kun's family story and weave them together into a meaningful whole. And somewhere in there is crisis and running away and – some very dark imagery indeed – Kun lost in a massive mainline station that straddles both worlds. The real. And the nightmare world of a child who is lost and fearful. Thumbs up here for graphics that are colourful, inventive and always interesting. Another plus.

Of course it's 'only animé'....but if you are a sensitive sort, don't watch the station scene alone. It proved scary enough for at least one adult (me!) and perhaps is a bit much for nervous children.

Otherwise, though, this is a touching, thought-provoking, engaging film with a courage that goes way beyond the slightness of its subject matter.

Interesting: and despite initial misgivings, more than enough to captivate the imagination of a 13-year old lad who 'doesn't do animé' and prefers his films a little more adventurous.

If you thought you didn't do animé, maybe this is as good a film as any with which to change your mind.

Reviewed on: 09 Nov 2018
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A spoiled boy has to cope with the arrival of a new baby sister - and much more.
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Director: Mamoru Hosoda

Writer: Mamoru Hosoda

Starring: Haru Kuroki, Moka Kamishiraishi, Gen Hoshino, Kôji Yakusho, Kumiko Asô, Mitsuo Yoshihara, Yoshiko Miyazaki, John Cho, Crispin Freeman, Masaharu Fukuyama, Victoria Grace, Rebecca Hall, Tasuku Hatanaka, Kaede Hondo, Matsunojo Kanda

Year: 2018

Runtime: 98 minutes

BBFC: PG - Parental Guidance

Country: Japan

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