|Hepburn||Mirai no Mirai|
|Literally||Mirai of the future|
|Directed by||Mamoru Hosoda|
|Written by||Mamoru Hosoda|
|Music by||Masakatsu Takagi|
|Edited by||Shigeru Nishiyama|
|Box office||$28.4 million|
Mirai (未来のミライ, Mirai no Mirai,  literally Mirai of the Future) is a 2018 Japanese animated adventure fantasy film written and directed by Mamoru Hosoda and produced by Studio Chizu. It was premiered on May 16, 2018 at Directors' Fortnight and released in Japan on July 20, 2018. The film stars the voices of Moka Kamishiraishi, Haru Kuroki, Gen Hoshino, Kumiko Aso, Mitsuo Yoshihara, Yoshiko Miyazaki, Koji Yakusho and Masaharu Fukuyama.
It was released on August 23, 2018 in Australia, September 20 in New Zealand and November 2 in the United Kingdom and Ireland. It was released on November 29 in the United States and Canada. The film was nominated for Best Animated Feature Film at the 76th Golden Globe Awards, Best Animated Feature at the 24th Critics' Choice Awards and Best Animated Feature at the 91st Academy Awards; it is the sixth anime film, and the first non-Ghibli anime film, to receive an Academy Award nomination in the category. The film also won Best Animated Feature — Independent at the 46th Annie Awards.
Kun is a three-year-old boy born to an executive mother and an architect father. The family lives in a stepped house in Isogo-ku,Yokohama that Kun's father designed around a tree, where Kun spends his days playing with the family dog, Yukko, and his beloved toy train sets. When Kun is four, his sister Mirai, Japanese for "future", is born, and he is happy at first when his mother returns home with her. But he soon grows jealous when his parents focus all their attention on her, and has to be restrained from hitting her with one of his toy trains. He lashes out first at his mother, and then at his father when he becomes a stay-at-home dad working from home while his mother returns to work.
After one such tantrum, Kun stomps off to the house's garden, where he meets a strange man who claims to be the "prince" of the house. As the man endlessly whines about how he lost all the parents' attention when Kun was born, Kun realizes that the man is actually Yukko turned into a human. Kun even finds Yukko's tail on the man; when he removes it and places it on himself, he transforms into a dog morph. Later on, a now collected Kun tells his parents about how he had so much fun running around the house as a dog, and he relays Yukko's complaints about how they treat him.
Girls Day rolls around, and the family set up the traditional dolls to wish Mirai good luck. But they neglect to put the dolls away after the holiday ends. Frustrated again with their parents' focus on Mirai, Kun runs back to the garden. This time he meets a middle school aged girl who claims to be Mirai from the future, whom Kun is able to recognize by the birthmark on her right hand. She has somehow gone back in time out of concern that every day the dolls are not put away adds one year before she can marry. After a lot of bumbling, future Mirai is able to put the dolls away with help from Kun and humanized Yukko.
Kun's grandmother shows him photos of his mother when she was Kun's age. But he continues to attack his mother by leaving his toys everywhere on the floor. He runs out to the garden again, where he is transported a couple of decades to the past. In town, he runs into a little girl whom he recognizes from the photos as his mother. The girl is angry at her mother for refusing to give her a pet cat. They return to her home, where the little girl says that things would look better all messed up, and then starts dumping toys all over the floor and food all over the table. But then her mother, Kun's grandmother, returns home. Kun is forced out of the house and leaves out the back door, but he overhears his grandmother furiously scolding the little girl, and the girl, his future mother, sobbing hysterically. Kun returns to his own time, and now shows sympathy for his mother, but still continues to complain and whine about every little thing.
Kun gets a bike with training wheels for a present, but wants to learn how to ride the bike without them after seeing older kids on bikes at the park. His father helps him as best as he can, but Kun seems not able to keep the bike upright. Back home, Kun runs back to the garden, where he is transported to a workshop in rural Japan many decades ago. A young man with an injured leg introduces Kun to the many horses near his shop. He takes an initially afraid Kun on a ride on one of the horses, and then on his motorcycle. Back in his own time days later, Kun successfully rides his bike using what he learned from his previous rides. Kun's mother shows him more photos, revealing the man to be his great-grandfather, who worked on motorcycles and engines in his youth but who died just recently.
Finally, the family decides to set out for a day trip. But Kun once again throws a fit over not being able to wear his favorite yellow pants (because they were in the laundry and he had to wear blue pants), and then runs off to hide. When he comes out, he finds his whole family gone. In the garden, he finds a train station (the Isogo Station) with a train approaching. A boy in his late teens warns him not to board the train, but Kun disobeys him. The train takes Kun to the Tokyo Station, but there he panics about being all alone. He finds a lost and found attendant who needs the name of a relative to page for, but Kun realizes that he doesn't even know the names of his own parents. The attendant sends Kun to a dragon shaped bullet train, telling him that if they can't find anyone to pick him up, he must board that train to take him to "Lonely Land," which is essentially hell. He spots baby Mirai about to board the train and rescues her, pleading that they not be sent on this train. At this point Kun finally acknowledges that he is Mirai's older brother, and the attendant can now page her. Baby Mirai disappears, and future Mirai shows up to take Kun home by flying through the air. They land in the tree, which houses all the family folklore. Kun sees that his father was too physically weak to ride a bike when he was young, when Yukko left his dog-mom to become a pet, that his mother stopped liking cats when she saw a stray one kill a bird, the World War II battle that left his great-grandfather's leg injured, and the race he ran to win the heart of Kun's great-grandmother. Kun also sees the future, and discovers that the teenager at the Isogo Station is future Kun. Back at his own time, Kun decides that he can go on the trip just fine with his blue pants, and he goes on said trip with both his parents and his little sister.
- Voiced by: Haru Kuroki; Kaede Hondo (baby) (Japanese); Victoria Grace (English); Kari Wahlgren (English, baby)
- The father (おとうさん, Otōsan)
- The mother (おかあさん, Okāsan)
- Mysterious man (謎の男, Nazo no otoko)
- The grandmother (ばあば, Bāba)
- Voiced by: Yoshiko Miyazaki (Japanese); Eileen T'Kaye (English)
- The grandfather (じいじ, Jiiji)
- The great-grandfather (青年, Seinen, literally "young man")
Hosoda was partially inspired to write the script for Mirai after seeing his then-three-year-old son's first reactions to having a baby sister in his life. While initially only cautious of the newborn when meeting her for the first time, Hosoda's son threw a tantrum one day, jealous of the attention that his parents were giving his sister. Hosoda's curiosity with how his son reacted, and how he would adapt to being a big brother, prompted him to make the protagonist of Mirai four years old.
By making the protagonist so young, Hosoda wanted to capture how life would be like at such a young age. To do this, he brought his own children to the Studio Chizu office so that animators had plenty of reference material to sketch and animate from. Hosoda also wanted to use the fantasy elements of Mirai to propel inner character development, stating, "[...] when the main character meets other people through those elements and changes — it’s not those elements that help him change; it’s really what he feels inside.” Since Mirai was about "how a family can change but always [remained] itself", Hosoda chose to have the film take place in Yokohama, a "city that is constantly changing".
Kun's great-grandfather's story was loosely based on Hosoda's wife's great-grandfather, who also worked on warplanes and became injured in wartime conflict.
To achieve better authenticity, Hosoda worked with professionals outside of the animation industry to design some of the assets used in the film. Kun's family's house, designed on-screen by Kun's father, was actually designed by real-life architect Makoto Tanijiri. For the sequence where Kun is alone at the train station, Hosoda consulted with Japanese engineer Hideo Shima, designer of Japan's bullet train, to create a model of the shinkansen that was more frightening. In addition, the paper cutouts of strangers that Kun meets were designed by children's book author and illustrator duo Tupera Tupera, whose books his son loves.
Masakatsu Takagi, who had previously scored Hosoda's Wolf Children and The Boy and the Beast, returned to write the soundtrack for Mirai. Takagi's initial film score was more pop-oriented with Brazilian influences, but Hosoda wanted something more simple and reflective of family.
Singer-songwriter Tatsuro Yamashita provided the theme songs for the film: "Mirai no Theme" and "Music train". This is the second time that Yamashita collaborated with Hosoda since his 2009 film Summer Wars. The two songs were included in his 51st single, released on July 11.
Promotion and release
Mirai premiered at Directors' Fortnight, an independent section held in parallel to the Cannes Film Festival, on May 16, 2018 and then was shown at Annecy International Animation Film Festival and the Sydney Film Festival in June. The film was released in Japan on July 20, 2018.
Madman Entertainment acquired the film for Australia and New Zealand, brought the film to the Sydney Film Festival and then released it theatrically on August 23, 2018 in Australia and September 20 in New Zealand. Anime Limited released the film in the United Kingdom and Ireland, premiering the film at BFI London Film Festival on October 13, 2018, followed theatrical releases on November 2 in Japanese and November 4 in English. GKIDS acquired the film for North America, and premiered the film at the Animation Is Film Festival in Los Angeles on October 19, 2018, with a national release on November 29.
To promote the release of the film, the Tokyo Dome Hotel featured Mirai-themed rooms between August 18 and September 16, 2018. In addition, a Hosoda film exhibition, featuring production materials from Mirai and his other movies, was available at Tokyo Dome City's Gallery AaMo from July 25 to September 17, 2018. Children's picture books were also released on July 20 and August 2, 2018.
Domestically, Mirai opened at #2 in Japan, earning approximately ¥400,000,000 on opening weekend. This was a 40% decrease from The Boy and the Beast's ¥5,000,000,000 in opening weekend gross earnings. It fell from #2 to #3 in its second weekend, earning roughly ¥289,012,900 based on 215,000 additional tickets sold. Overall, Mirai grossed a total of $23,683,483 in Japan.
On review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 91% based on 80 reviews, with an average rating of 7.57/10. The website's critical consensus reads, "The simplicity and colorful warmth of Mirai's animation is underscored by a story with surprising - and deeply affecting - depth and emotional resonance." On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 81 out of 100 based on 18 critics, indicating "universal acclaim".
Peter Travers of the Rolling Stone gave Mirai four-and-a-half stars out of five, stating that despite the movie seeming like "[Hosoda's] smallest film", it "has an emotional resonance that defies its conventional underpinnings". Bilge Ebiri of The New York Times praised the film, remarking that Hosoda "privileges moments of emotion over belabored story mechanics". Variety's Peter Debruge writes that while Mirai might be a "gentler and potentially younger-skewing film" than Hosoda's previous works, it is "the work of a true auteur (in what feels like his most personal film yet) presented as innocuous family entertainment".
On the other hand, Sara Stewart of the New York Post criticized its "outdated gender roles", referring to Kun's father being "hopelessly clumsy as caregiver", and said that Kun's temper tantrums were "a little grating to sit through". Writing for RogerEbert.com, Simon Abrams believed the film's daydream sequences "simply don't feel like anything a real child would imagine". He further wrote: "Even the film's general theme—children can be overwhelming before they learn how to control their emotions—is only hinted at, never thoughtfully expressed."
A novelisation of the film by Hosoda was announced on April 2018, was in three versions prior to the premiere of the film in Japan, published by Kadokawa. The first version was released under Kadokawa Bunko's literature label on June 15, the second version under Kadokawa Tsubasa Bunko on June 30, and the third version under Kadokawa Sneaker Bunko on July 1, 2018.
Yen Press announced at Anime Expo 2018 that they had licensed the novel for the English language. The English translation was done by Winifred Bird. They published it in hardcover and e-book on October 30.
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- Official website (in Japanese)
- MIRAI at Nippon TV (in English)
- Australia and New Zealand official website
- United Kingdom and Ireland official website
- United States and Canada official website
- Mirai at Anime News Network's encyclopedia
- Mirai on IMDb
- Mirai at Metacritic
- Mirai at Rotten Tomatoes
- Mirai at Box Office Mojo