Mirai of the Future directed by Mamoru Hosoda is a charming film to watch, but I found it to be fairly lightweight fare all told.
Kun-chan is a toddler who is used to being the centre of attention when his parents bring home his new-born sister Mirai. It’s safe to say that Kun-chan doesn’t take this well, and Mirai’s explorations of toddler jealousy are very well realised.
As part of dealing with this Kun-chan often flees to the courtyard garden of the family home and is swept into fantasy encounters, including with an older version of his new sister Mirai. The older Mirai is great, and sadly underused as pointed out by Kim Morrissy in this Anime News Network review.
I strongly recommend reading that review by the way as it provides much more context on the film, especially the way it realises parenthood and how toddlers work (or not as the case may be).
In terms of the family theme there’s a lot to recommend in Mirai. As Morrissy points out, the father falls far short of the idealisation of Hana in Wolf Children, and is a better character for it. Certainly parents struggling to manage both the home and the walking disaster areas at the same time may well appreciate Mirai a lot more as a result.
But for all that Hosoda is good at representing families as the core theme of his work, there’s a sense of diminishing returns. Every time he returns to the theme, for all that he takes a different angle each time as with Boy and the Beast or Mirai, there’s still a sense of comparison to Summer Wars or Wolf Children.
I also think we should be paying more attention to the contributions of Satoko Okudera who was fully or partially credited on the screenplays for Hosoda’s films up until Wolf Children. I think there’s a case to be made that Hosoda needs her input on the writing side.
Ultimately Mirai is a charming film to watch, and well worth seeing on the big screen, but isn’t much more than that.