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Anime / Mirai of the Future

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Present brother, future sister.

Mirai of the Future note  is a 2018 anime film written and directed by Mamoru Hosoda (The Girl Who Leapt Through Time, Summer Wars).

Meet Kun (voiced by Moka Kamishiraishi). He's a 4-year old kid in Yokohama with all the parental attention he could ask for... or so it was, until his parents give him a surprise in the form of a baby sister named Mirai (Kaede Hondo). Feeling like all the attention he had is slipping away, Kun runs off into the family garden.

However, the garden has an odd quirk of its own, because the next thing he knows, Kun is meeting his mother as a little girl and his great-grandfather as a young man. But then, Kun comes across a girl (Haru Kuroki) who's not only much older and taller than he is, but seems to know him very well. Moreover, she says her name is Mirai.

Wait, doesn't Kun have a little sister with that name?

...This just got awkward.

Mirai also stars Gen Hoshino as the father, Kumiko Aso as the mother, Mitsuo Yoshihara as the mysterious man, Yoshiko Miyazaki as the grandmother and Koji Yakusho as the grandfather.

The film has already found North American distribution via GKIDS. Received a nomination at the 91st Academy Awards for Best Animated Feature.

Watch the preview here.

Mirai of the Future provides examples of:

  • 2D Visuals, 3D Effects: Several of the backgrounds are clearly computer animated when you study them, but not jarringly so. However, played absolutely straight during the climactic fantasy sequence when Kun gets lost at the station in Tokyo, particularly with the mechanical lost-and-found officer and the demonic bullet train that tries to take him and Mirai to Lonely Land.
  • Adaptation Expansion: The light novel based on the film written by Mamoru Hosoda provides insight into how the characters think along with some extra details about the movie's various locations and the family members. The opening montage of Kun's parents becoming a couple, adopting a dog, and their first pregnancy with Kun is fleshed out in a prologue.
  • Aesop Amnesia: Kun doesn't always take the lessons he learns from his adventures to heart, particularly the ones about being nice to his little sister. Justified since Kun is only four years old and lacks the emotional maturity necessary for self-reflection.
  • An Aesop: Life is made up of little moments, so don't take them for granted.
  • Aloof Big Brother: Future Kun.
  • Animorphism: When Kun steals Yukko's tail and sticks it onto himself, he gains a fluffy tail, whiskers and ears and runs around the house like a dog. Amusingly, his parents don't notice anything out of the ordinary and just think the dog is acting crazy.
  • Argument of Contradictions: When Kun meets Future Kun, their argument basically boils down to "Don't say don't say don't say don't say don't say don't say you don't like it!"
  • Attention Whore: Kun becomes very jealous whenever people are paying more attention to his sister than him, the prime example being when his grandparents come to visit and he keeps demanding they film him instead of Mirai, since she's just sitting there not doing anything.
  • Babies Make Everything Better: Played with. The mother is exhausted, the father overwhelmed, Kun feels neglected and even the dog is depressed. But once Mirai is older and everyone gets used to the situation, the family is happy again.
  • Big Brother Instinct: Kun lacks it at the beginning, but experiencing the highs and lows of his family makes him develop it. This culminates in him saving Mirai from being pulled onto the demonic bullet train to Lonely Land and declaring that he is her big brother, having previously refused to acknowledge it.
  • Bratty Half-Pint: Kun, though his behaviour is typical for his age. But maybe his little sister from the future can fix that...
  • Casting Gag:
    • Kun's Japanese VA is Moka Kamishiraishi. Two years earlier, her older sister, Mone, voiced a character who, like future Mirai here, is affected by time travel and meets a younger version of the male protagonist. Mitsuha and Mirai even look somewhat alike.
    • John Cho voices Kun's father, who is an architect. In the 2017 film Columbus, he plays a man whose father is an architect.
  • Cat/Dog Dichotomy: Kun's mother really wanted a cat until one killed a baby bird right in front of them. After that, they got a dog.
  • Central Theme: Family; particularly the relationships between siblings.
  • Chekhov's Gun: The demonic bullet train to Lonely Land is first mentioned during Kun's train journey to Tokyo where he points out that he doesn't recognise it.
  • Child Naming Request: Subverted, Kun's parents suggest he come up with some name suggestions and even entertains the idea of naming Mirai "Nozomi" or "Tsubame" before realizing they're from his toy trains, but later forgo this since Kun is four anyway.
  • Confusing Multiple Negatives: Kun and Future Kun get into an argument where they keep tacking additional "not"s on.
  • Cool Big Sis:
    • Mirai from the future. Played with in that she still calls Kun "onii-chan" even though she's much bigger than him.
    • The kids who offer to show Kun how to ride a bike when his father is distracted by Mirai crying.
  • Determinator:
    • Kun's great-grandfather was one. He swam out of a burning ship wreck while heavily wounded, agreed to a race for marriage despite limping badly and managed to live a long life. He even teaches Kun about being determined, leading to the kid being able to ride a bicycle.
    • Kun's father to a lesser extent with learning to hold Baby Mirai properly.
  • Don't Look Down: How Kun's great-grandfather teaches him not to be scared while they're riding his horse.
  • Eccentric Artist: Kun's architect father. He designed the house to follow the slope of the hill on which it was built with each room arranged in a stair-like layout and no walls for natural lighting. The light novel provides a glimpse at his creative process, namely how he likes to recycle older materials in new ways so that a building's original history is preserved.
  • Eldritch Abomination:
    • The Lost and Found agent and the Lonely Train.
    • Also the hag/witch from Kun's favorite storybook, especially when he imagines his mother as said creature.
  • Foreshadowing: Several times.
    • Kun's mother and grandparents talking about how his great-grandparents met and got married.
    • Kun pretending to be a puppy out of excitement. He later transforms into a dog using Yukko's magical tail.
    • The middle-school students walking down the street have the same uniform that Future Mirai wears.
    • Kun's mother reminding him to tell his father when he requires a Potty Emergency.
    • Kun's breakfast plate resembles a clock. This is indicative of the film's theme of time-travelling and the little assistant to the lost and found attendant at the train station has a clock for a face. He also asks for a banana in the same scene, something he offers to Mirai after he accepts being her big brother.
  • Food Porn: The strawberry pancakes during an earlier dinner scene. There's also a very colorful and very tasty-looking gelatin cake Kun's mother and grandmother snack on during a late-night conversation.
  • Friendly Tickle Torture: Administered by a teenage Mirai to her toddler brother, but he likes "The Bee Game" and keeps asking her to do it again.
  • Generation Xerox: When Kun meets the child version of his mother, she's just as rambunctious and spoiled as he is at that age, and both of them get chewed out by their respective mothers for it. Kun's mother even lampshades this when talking about it with her mother.
  • Green-Eyed Monster: The main plot point of the movie, Kun struggling to accept the new addition of his younger sister and fearing that his parents love her more than him.
  • Handy Feet: Baby Mirai after Kun inserts several train cards between her toes.
  • I Hate Past Me: Downplayed. Future Kun tries to tell his younger self that making great memories with his family is more important than wearing a specific pair of pants. It doesn't work, leading to them bickering in a very childish way.
  • Inelegant Blubbering: Kun and Mirai's crying is shown very realistically with red, scrunched up faces, and a lot of flailing on Kun's part.
  • Infant Sibling Jealousy: Much of the film's conflict is due to Kun's jealousy of his new baby sister Mirai, and his Character Development is about learning to appreciate her.
  • It's All About Me: As a four-year old, Kun obviously thinks that the world revolves around him; he gets extremely upset and even aggressive whenever he doesn't get what he wants. This worsens when Mirai is born.
  • Kid from the Future: A weird case. Mirai is born in the present, but Kun encounters a version of her from the future.
  • Line-of-Sight Name: When Kun's father asks for suggestions on what to name his baby sister, Kun suggests "Nozomi" and "Tsubame", which are actually real-life train services that his toy trains are modeled after. His father immediately lampshades that he's just giving them train-related names. (However, it's worth noting that both names are valid girls' names in Japan.)
  • Masculine Girl, Feminine Boy: According to Kun's mother as a child, she says her mother prefers her because her little brother is a weak crybaby, while she is headstrong and bold.
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: Is the garden magical? Did Kun actually meet his dog in human form, Mirai and himself from the future, his mother as a kid, his great-grandfather as a young man and get lost in a nightmare train station? Or was it all just his fantasy to cope with the situation? The way that the dog reacts to the offer of better food and that Kun recognizes his great-grandfather before being told about him point more towards the former. One of the strengths of the film is that the question of whether everything that happens is real or not isn't even raised, because in terms of the story being told, it really doesn't matter. What is reality to a four-year old anyway?
  • Meaningful Name: "Mirai" means "future" in Japanese. Weirdly, it makes the Japanese title, Mirai no Mirai, literally translate to Future of the Future. However it can probably also be parsed as the future of Mirai, or as the Mirai of the future.
  • Men Can't Keep House: Initially played straight when Kun's father struggles to look after the house and kids while his wife goes back to work, but subverted as he improves with practice.
  • Missing Child: The idea of children going missing is bad enough in safe Japan. The demonic bullet train to Lonely Land, the implication that any children who board it are never seen again and how it actively tries sucking Kun and Mirai on board make for even more uncomfortable viewing for anyone from a country where child abduction is rampant.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Kun goes through this several times.
    • His reaction to the trouble his mum as a child gets into after they both make a huge mess causes him to realize why she tells him to put his toys away.
    • Averted when Kun saves baby Mirai from the Lonely Train after almost ending up on said train himself.
    • Kun's mother after she scares him when he's throwing a tantrum over Mirai — he did deserve to be scolded for hitting his baby sister with a toy train, but she laments later on that she went a bit overboard.
  • Never the Selves Shall Meet: Played With. Future Yukko addresses the fact that his and future Mirai's present day selves seem to disappear when they enter the house and reappear after they leave. Averted, however, when Kun later meets his own future self.
  • No Name Given: Aside from Kun, Mirai, and the dog, Yukko, none of the characters in the film are named. Even the credits simply names them as "Mother" note , "Father", "Grandfather", etc. This is a plot point, and reflects the central themes of the movie, as Kun is at the stage in his emotional development where he's putting together a true sense of identity, including a realization that his family members are unique individuals and not just fixtures of a self-centered reality. This manifests physically when he's questioned by the nightmare train conductor who he is and realizes, to his sudden horror, he doesn't even know what his parents are called. To him, they were always just "mom" and "dad".
  • Not Now, Kiddo: Kun's parents' attitude towards Kun for most of the movie which is understandable as they have Baby Mirai to look after as well and she requires a lot of attention. Kun's father especially so; Kun's mother even highlights this when her husband complains about Baby Mirai crying whenever he tries to hold her.
  • "Not So Different" Remark: When Kun meets Yukko in human form, the latter is able to identify how the former must feel, eaten up by jealousy while his parents fawn over the new baby. How does he know Kun's feeling jealous? Because even though he's a dog, Yukko says he's been where Kun is today: quickly going from the most pampered member of the family to The Unfavorite because of a new baby.
  • Parental Favoritism: Inverted; Kun's mother was his primary caretaker for most of his early life while his father was busy with work. As a result, Kun doesn't react well to his father taking over domestic duties and repeatedly cries out for his mother's attention instead. Kun and his father develop a stronger bond over the course of the film as the former grows as a person while the latter becomes more accustomed to being a house husband.
  • Parents as People: Downplayed. Kun's parents are Good Parents, but his mother is exhausted with the new baby and working while his father isn't able to keep up with the housework, leaving Kun to feel neglected.
  • Phenotype Stereotype: The English-speaking woman at the park has blonde hair, implying she's American.
  • Potty Emergency: Kun is forced to feign one as a means of stalling his father while Future Mirai and Human Yukko try to discretely put Baby Mirai's dolls away.
  • Production Throwback:
  • Punctuated! For! Emphasis!: Kun's mother yelling "KNOCK! IT! OFF!" when she catches him trying to play with baby Mirai during her naptime.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech:
    • A common occurrence, usually by Kun to or about his parents and baby Mirai when he gets upset at them.
    • As a result, Kun is subjected to this by his and Mirai's future selves and Human Yukko.
    • Kun's mother delivers one to his father, pointing out that the other women in the neighbourhood aren't fooled by him boasting that it's no trouble for him to take care of the kids, thinking of him as a phony and telling him he has to do much better than that.
    • Kun's mother generally does this to either her husband and/or son whenever she is stressed or Kun is misbehaving.
  • Red and Black and Evil All Over: The demonic bullet train to Lonely Land is mainly black with red lights.
  • Rule of Symbolism: At the beginning of the film, the garden has patches of dead grass and Kun witnesses snow falling right before his parents bring home baby Mirai. This signifies the end of his time as an only child.
  • Secondary Character Title: Mirai is the deuteragonist, since the focus is on Kun.
  • She Is All Grown Up: Future Mirai and Future Kun grow up to be quite good-looking as young adults.
  • Sibling Rivalry: Kun feels threatened by Mirai's presence and how his parents seem to care more about her, leading to him trying to hit his newborn sister with a toy train twice.
  • So Proud of You: Kun's father can only cry Tears of Joy when Kun rides a bike seemingly by himself (he had some help from his great-grandfather, but still).
  • Stealth Pun: Towards the end of the movie, Kun happens upon the tree his house surrounds, which shows his family's collective history, and even his and Mirai's future. This is Kun and Mirai's family tree.
  • Surprisingly Creepy Moment:
    • The last fantasy sequence in the film where Kun gets lost at the station in Tokyo and nearly gets sent to the "Lonely Land" for kids without families by a demonic bullet train is a startling scene of pure Nightmare Fuel in a mostly kid-friendly film.
    • The sequence recounting Kun's great-grandfather surviving the wreck of the ship he was on during WWII, where he screams in agony then swims through a sea of wreckage and corpses with a bloodied and maimed leg.
  • That Thing Is Not My Child!: Downplayed, but Kun refuses to acknowledge that he's Mirai's big brother despite his parents trying to insist that he bond with the baby. In the climax of the movie, he finally comes to terms with it and tries his best to protect Mirai from being sucked onto the Demon Train.
  • The Un-Favourite:
    • How Kun feels for most of the movie since Baby Mirai requires a lot of attention.
    • Kun's attitude towards his father for most of the film, justified somewhat as Kun's father confesses he put his work before his son during Kun's infancy.
    • Even baby Mirai takes a while to warm to her father. It doesn't help that he has a hard time learning to hold her properly.
  • Trademark Favorite Food: Mirai and bananas. According to the light novel, she gained a preference for them while she was being weaned. Kun shares a banana with her once he has finally accepted his role as her big brother.
  • Trailers Always Lie: The trailers, particularly the English dub one, give the impression that Kun will be going on a grand adventure through time with his little sister from the future. In reality, the film is more of an episodic series of events exploring family dynamics with only brief moments of the fantastical. And Future Mirai only shows up for a handful of scenes.
  • Turbine Blender: Averted, but Kun's encounter with his great-grandfather starts off with him facing a live aircraft-propeller coming towards him.
  • What Are Records?: In the light novel, Kun has no idea what the videotapes in his mother's childhood home are supposed to be and is surprised at how large the back of the TV is. Justified since Kun is growing up in the digital age where flatscreen tvs are commonplace.
  • When She Smiles: Baby Mirai is not very expressive, something her father complains about. She finally smiles at Kun for real at the end of the movie.
  • Workaholic: Kun's father. He admits as much when his wife points out he wasn't there for Kun when he was an infant. In one scene, he remains absorbed in his laptop, oblivious to his son's repeated calls for attention and the Girls' Day dolls he's supposed to put away.

Alternative Title(s): Mirai