November 5th, 2018


Mirai (review)

I watched Mamoru Hosoda's Mirai yesterday (in Japanese Mirai no Mirai [未来のミライ], or "The Future Mirai," a wordplay that doesn't carry over). I had very much enjoyed The Girl Who Leapt Through Time, though not thinking it flawless, but had been put off by Summer Wars, a film that was widely acclaimed but seemed to me a more boring version of the The Digimon Movie (on which, I discovered only today, Hosoda was also a director). So I never made the effort to seek out Wolf Children or The Boy and the Beast, although the former, especially, intrigues me considerably. (Have I missed much?) But I saw posters for Mirai in Japan last May (it wasn't out there yet), and decided it looked worth a punt.

Anyway, Mirai was excellent. It deal with time slips in a confident, unfussy way that didn't feel obliged to erect a Heath-Robinson metaphysics to explain everything; it had Summer Wars's interest in family, but didn't bite off more than it could chew. Its use of a four-year-old (or thereabouts) as a protagonist was daring, but really worked. Funny, feel-good and affecting.

I was pleased with myself too, for spotting an early joke. When asked what they should call his baby sister, Kun-chan (who's into trains) suggests "Nozomi", which means "hope" or "wish". It's a reasonable suggestion, but he's made it only because it's also the name of a type of bullet train - something I spotted before his parents. Admittedly they're fictional characters made entirely of pixels, but they're native Japanese pixels, so I felt justified in my self-satisfaction.

Finally, for aficianados, the film gave a nod to Tom's Midnight Garden, the fons et origo of Japanese time-slip fantasy (as my friend Mihoko Tanaka has so eloquently shown in her book on the subject), by including a copy on young Kun-chan's bookshelf.

He must be a little young to read it yet, but when he's ready, the garden will be waiting.