*This is a review of the dubbed version of the film.*
Mirai is the newest anime film from director Mamoru Hosoda (The Boy and the Beast). It is about a young boy who, distraught by the arrival of his new baby sister, discovers a magical garden in his backyard. It was recently nominated for the Best Animated Film award at the Golden Globes.
This film’s biggest success is its character development. The characters are extremely well-written and sympathetic. There is so much realism to the characters and their story that it would be hard not to relate with or at least understand the characters. Anyone who has ever had a sibling has likely felt the same feelings that the protagonist experiences.
As a result, the movie has a great deal of heart. The story is extremely heart-warming. Even though the moral is quite obvious, and it is easy to predict what will happen to the characters at the end, you still care immensely about the protagonist and want to see him grow and learn from the story. There are also many interactions between the protagonist and his family that either warm your heart or make you want to burst into tears.
The script also has plenty of humor, though. There were quite a few moments that were funny, especially during the fantasy sequences. Yukko is a particularly funny character, infusing plenty of comedic relief into the film. Additionally, the protagonist has a goofy charm about him that shines through in multiple scenes.
The narrative structure is almost episodic, and it works quite well. It takes a while for the plot device to kick in, as the first half of the movie is focused on introducing the characters and the central conflict, but once it does, it is really interesting. The last segment is particularly strong, although it could possibly frighten younger audience members.
The animation is absolutely great. It shares a lot with the typical anime style, but also has pieces of other styles here and there. The backgrounds look very realistic. The character design is excellent too. The best part of anime is its ability to convey the characters’ emotions with a great level of detail. There is a lot of emotion in this film, so it fits very well.
Although the subtitled version of anime movies is typically better, the dub of this film was surprisingly strong. The synchronization of the English dialogue with the lip movements was impressive and did not distract from the beautiful animation. The English voice cast was great too. John Cho is a standout as the father, stealing many scenes.
Overall, Mirai is a beautiful anime movie. The story is sweet, the animation is great, and the dub was surprisingly good. It is no surprise at all that this is getting so much awards attention.
Mirai is now playing in select theaters.