Toddlerhood

Mirai: an anime journey into a four-year-old’s psyche

Film Review | by Jorge Ignacio Castillo

Opens Friday 21
Roxy Theatre
4 out of 5

Writer/director Mamoru Hosuda’s anime, such as the fantastic Wolf Children and The Boy and the Beast, is about family dynamics and the struggle to keep up with change. Hosuda’s latest, Mirai, could be considered the flip side of Wolf Children’s story of an overwhelmed mother of two werewolf kids. Mirai ditches the lycanthropy to tell a similar story, but from the kid’s perspective.

Kun, a mischievous toddler, has a rude awakening when his newborn baby sister, Mirai, arrives from the hospital. Suddenly ignored by his parents, Kun uses his imagination and still-developing common sense to cope. Kun’s backyard becomes an ever-transforming place where he learns about jealousy from his anthropomorphic dog (who’s also being ignored) and an older version of Mirai, who teaches him about empathy.

Much like Hayao Miyazaki’s My Neighbor Totoro — another low-impact drama with no villains other than life’s annoyances — Mirai is deceptively simple. Kun’s adventures help him learn things and develop a personality.

 Mirai also shows that the loss of innocence isn’t a one-time event; it’s something that happens repeatedly throughout our lives.

Mirai’s gentleness is the movie’s strongest feature. There’s lots of comedy — mostly from the stay-at-home dad dealing with two young children and an exhausted wife — but it’s all organic to the story and never steals attention from the film’s main concerns.

The hand-drawn animation is very standard but it’s still a joy to watch.

Couldn’t help but notice that at no point do the beleaguered parents sit Kun in front of the TV. Hmmm.