Mirai (2018)

Content by Tony Macklin. Originally published on December 10, 2018 @ tonymacklin.net.

The Japanese anime Mirai takes a boy Kun (voiced by Jaden Waldman) on trippy time travel. It is a transformative film about family.

It probably will make you think about your own familial relationships.

Mirai starts without much promise. Kun is a 4-year old boy at home with his grandmother, awaiting the arrival from the hospital of his mother (voiced by Rebecca Hall) and newborn baby sister.

Kun is not happy with the situation. When he first sees his sister he is enthralled, but that attitude quickly becomes bitter as he gets more and more jealous. He becomes outlandishly aggressive as he sees his parents become less involved with him, since his sister needs more attention.

At the beginning of the movie, it's a pretty callow family with two business-oriented parents and a bratty son.

After the birth of the second offspring, the father (John Cho) stays at home, while the mother goes back to work. The father, an architect, has good intentions, but his concentration on work distracts him from his stubborn, angry son. Kun is very apt at throwing noisy fits.

This does not seem much like an entertaining concept.

But writer/director Mamoru Hosada then takes us on beguiling flights of fancy. Kun sees his sister named Mirai, which means "future," as a young woman. He sees his mother as a girl. He sees himself in the future. He witnesses his great-grandfather as a young man, going through a crucial test which the family depended on.

The music is potent, and the dialogue dubbed into English is credible.

One of the most jolting transformations is when the family dog Yukko becomes personified. As a dog he has a severe expression that is priceless.

As the movie develops, it is full of arresting images: Kun wide-eyed in falling flecks of snow, speeding trains, a mammoth train station in Tokyo, Kun on horseback, a serene baby, hideous faces, Kun's mother as a witch.

There are scenes that are universal - Kun trying to learn how to ride a bicycle, failing, and learning how to conquer his challenges. His late great-grandfather is one of his teachers.

As the film climaxes, Kun has learned the history of his family.

Mirai provides us with a rich vision of past and future.

In Mirai, family provides unique identity.

Like yours and mine.

© 2000-2019 Tony Macklin