Friday, November 30, 2018


I must admit to being kind of annoyed that Mirai is apparently getting the "three nights over a week and a half" treatment - Mamoru Hosoda's movies have been as reliably good as you get these days, this one is family-friendly, and I kind of refuse to believe that a market that kept Your Name in theaters for a month and has one of the country's largest anime conventions won't support a regular booking on top of that. It sure seems like it should get a week, but it sometimes seems like GKids is a little more timid than Funimation is where releases are concerned.

Still, it was crowded enough that I made sure to reserve my ticket at Fenway to make sure I got a good seat - though I frequently carp about other modernizations at theaters, I'm pretty neutral on reserved seating, not caring if a theater has it but not above making sure I get to be front-and-center-ish. Not a bad seat, but some early shots where the camera was panning over the city got fuzzy, and I wonder a bit if it's just panning too fast, something which always happens with digital, or if the Fathom presentation is something less than a proper DCP. It's also worth noting that Regal's added a whole bunch of menu options since I was there last. Maybe not as many as it looks - it's not that much harder to have 10 kinds of burgers than one - but I was squinting to read it as the screens above the concession stand refreshed (maybe I'll have to use my vision coverage next year). I found it amusing that they asked me what I wanted for a side with my pizza, and then what dressing I wanted for my fries. They did not ask whether I wanted, say, bacon bits sprinkled in my honey mustard, so it apparently only goes so far.

So, here we are, with two more days scheduled (subtitled on the 5th and dubbed on the 8th). Go see it, because it's a sweet, good-looking film that certainly creates enough of a delightful fantasy world that you'll want to get pulled into it rather than see it from a remove. It's niece-friendly, and may even lead them to The Girl Who Leapt Through Time.

Mirai no Mirai (Mirai)

* * * ¼ (out of four)
Seen 29 November 2018 in Regal Fenway #9 (Fathom Events, digital)

I'm guessing that a great many of us older siblings are going to watch Mirai and be amazed that our parents did not justifiably murder us. We almost certainly had it coming, even if we were toddlers at the time, and I don't know of many other movies that have focused so strongly on that particular stage of growing up, certainly not with the charm and visual whimsy that Mamoru Hosoda brings to this one.

That Hosoda is himself able to thread the needle between sympathy and awfulness is a huge part of what makes Mirai work, because 4-year-old Kun is an authentically horrifying kid not taking the arrival of his baby sister well at all, but he's drawn and animated in a way that reminds the audience that he's still learning how to act - him carefully navigating steps too big for him to use easily is actually adorable in addition to being a reminder of just how far he is from being mature. It's just enough to offset the natural inclination to ask what is wrong with him every time he does something bratty or worse, and also quietly establishes a baseline for him to grow from. One of the ways that animation can sometimes be more believable than live action is to make characters visually match going from kids to adults to seniors, but there's also a lot of difference between 4 and 5, and you maybe don't notice how much Kun's appearance and movement has changed over the course of the film until stills from the beginning run during the credits.

What makes him grow up? Well, time, but along the way Hosoda gives the family home a magical enclosed garden where the family dog can take human form and grumble about how he used to be the prince of the house, he can meet a fifteen-year-old Mirai, or follow a path that leads in the other direction to meet family members when they were younger. There's not necessarily a real-world explanation given for this, nor is one strictly necessary; I like to think the great-grandfather he meets is impossibly cool because that's how he's portrayed in the family's stories, even if it makes an earlier sequence of Kun, teen-Mirai, and human-Jukko seem unlikely (although, now that I think of it, maybe it didn't actually require reading…). It puts the story somewhere in between a fairy tale and a peek into how a small child whose brain has not yet fully grasped the difference between fantasy and reality learns and grows. It's just enough to stitch the various flights of fancy that make up the movie together, from and adult's perspective; maybe it seems a bit less cobbled-together for a kid, and I suspect this will seem more clear a second time through.

Full review at EFC.

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