A surprise Oscar nominee in the animated feature category, Mirai (Japan, 2018) is the sweet, imaginative tale of a four-year-old boy who becomes jealous of his newborn sister Mirai when she becomes the center of attention in the household while his parents grapple with new strains that the growing family puts on the household.
Mother returns to work, architect Dad struggles with childcare while working at home as a freelancer, and neither seems to have time for their son Kun, whose screams and epic, often irrational tantrums are realistic yet amusingly presented by filmmaker Mamoru Hosoda. The film takes a delightful fantasy turn when Kun is helped through life lessons by family members who travel through time and space, from his great-grandfather as a young man (who gives him his first motorcycle ride) to a teenage Mirai.
It’s a mix of magical benevolence and a rich imaginary life (such as when he chases the Princely human form of his pet dog) but the story, seen through the eyes of Kun, remains grounded in very human emotions and relationships. Hosoda, a major voice in animation in Japan, uses it all to explore the difficult transitions in growing up and to chart the evolution of Kun as he learns to accept his sister and his growing family. It’s an unpretentious delight for kids that adults will also appreciate.
The film was released to theaters in the U.S. with an English language soundtrack featuring the voices of Rebecca Hall, John Cho, and Daniel Dae-Kim.
It earned an Oscar nomination for best animated feature.
Rated PG, with original Japanese and English language soundtracks and optional subtitles
The Blu-ray+DVD release from Shout! Factory features both the Japanese and English soundtracks, plus numerous interviews and featurettes (in Japanese with subtitles).