As a parent, there is much in Mamoru Hosoda’s latest work Mirai to identify with. Everything from the exhaustion of adapting to life with a newborn to navigating the sibling jealousy that can erupt rings true. It is this familiarity that ultimately makes the film frustrating at times.
The story revolves around young Kun, a boy who finds it hard to accept that he no longer has his parent’s undivided attention now that his new baby sister Mirai has arrived home from the hospital. Prone to temper tantrums, including hitting his sister with this toy trains, Kun frequently stomps out into the backyard garden to blow off steam. This is no ordinary garden though, the family tree at the center of it holds magical powers. Before he can understand what has happened, Kun is transported to new worlds where he interacts with ancestors of the past, a teenage version of Mirai and even a human version of the family dog.
While the message of embracing change and the importance of family is heartwarming, one never gets the sense that Kun actually learns anything meaningful from these fantastical encounters. After a while, each new magical world loses its luster as it is clear it is only a matter of time before Kun goes back to acting like a petulant child. Furthermore, unlike Hosoda’s previous films Wolf Children and The Boy and the Beast, the rules of the fantastical worlds are never quite clear. This is especially confusing when those from the fantasy world interact with Kun’s normal life.
Though Hosoda’s heart is in the right place, the repetitive nature of Kun’s journey makes Mirai tiresome instead of magical.
Saturday, November 10, 2:30 PM, TIFF Bell Lightbox