Mirai – Mini Review

Bringing it All Together

It’s no secret that I’m a pretty big fan of Hosoda’s films. I’ve written about Wolf Children at length (multiple times actually) because it has been my favorite standalone animated film for some time. Having seen all of his works, multiple times no less, I can confidently say that this latest entry was more than competent. Mirai draws a lot from the prior films, and in many ways benefits from that as a result. However, it still didn’t manage to exceed any expectations.

Image result for mirai anime filmIf I had to rank this among all of Hosoda’s other films, I’d say this ranks around 3rd place. The reason for this is mainly pacing, the film has some great moments, but how scenes flow into each other just didn’t quite work. Still, there are a lot of wonderful things to be said about this film, which is what I’d rather focus on.

For this viewing I watched Mirai with my mom as a belated Mother’s Day activity. She had enjoyed Wolf Children when we watched it a few Mother’s Days back and I figured we could probably enjoy this. I’ll include some of her thoughts on the film here-and-there as well.

What was impressive about this film was how Hosoda managed to improve on his prior movies. Nothing in Mirai is really original, it feels like a recycling of the other films, but taking mostly the best parts of each. You have the interesting time travel that The Girl Who Leapt Through Time had, various elements of The Boy and the Beast, and much more of course.

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This demonstrated Hosoda’s growth in his career and I genuinely believe his next film is gonna be an impressive one if this is any indication. When viewing Mirai from this angle it leaves a better impression than it might otherwise as an isolated film.

The other aspect of the film that was done quiet well was Kun’s character. He is a bratty child who is jealous of his baby sister, the titular Mirai. GKIDS got an actual kid, Jaden Waldman, to voice Kun and that always makes a world of difference. As an audience it is easy to see why Kun behaves the way he does, so you sympathize, but he’s just obnoxious enough that you don’t exactly root for him either.

It’s a good balance that accurately reflects how kids act and think. My mother was pretty impressed with that part but she remarked that he might have been just a little too obnoxious. I can’t disagree, but considering we both have a pretty high tolerance for kids, I can only imagine how others might take to Kun.

Kun being a kid, he blends fantasy and reality together often in this film. It’s neat to see, making everything a kind of metaphysical interaction, but it can cause some parts of the film to feel slightly confusing. Not in a way that you can’t follow it, but in a way that might pull some folks out of the experience.

Both my mom and I were impressed with the time travel concept and how it brought everything together. Kun’s war-era grandpa was easily the best story in the bunch and I low-key wouldn’t have minded watching an entire film about that.

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Finally, I just have to mention the train station that nightmares are made of. I saw a review before I picked this up that heavily criticized the depiction of a train station, seeing that this is a kid’s film, and I was puzzled at first. When the film got to that point, I told my mom about it and we both went, “Yeah, not seeing it.” Then… well, we got it. For us, it was very humorous, but it is the only real black mark against the film as something meant for children. It may actually be quite traumatizing for some kids.

All-in-all, Mirai has charm. It’s a solid watch if you are a fan of Hosoda at all, even more so if you are actually. While there were a few times the movie wasn’t at its best, when it wanted to deliver, it absolutely did. As a children’s film, there are a lot of solid messages here, which you ought to know by now I’m all about. You should definitely watch with younger kids, but older ones should be fine. For adults, there are some interesting things to ponder and plenty of spectacle.


Have you seen Mirai? Additionally, what Hosoda film is your favorite? Let me know in the comments! If you want to help  me out and support my writing please use my Ko-fi button which you can see below. As always, thanks for reading and I hope to see you back here again soon!

Napping Princess – Mini Review

Our Dreams Have Meaning

That’s something a lot of folks believe. Some even think dreams can influence or predict the physical world. This is the case for high schooler Kokone Morikowa who finds herself having recurring dreams about an old bedtime story her dad used to tell her as a child called, Ancien and the Magic Tablet. When her father is taken away and a group of men are after his tablet, as well as Kokone herself, she soon realizes that her dreams may just be the key to everything.

Image result for napping princessNapping Princess really wishes it were a Ghibli film and there are times where it almost feels like one. Kokone is very much the kind of female protagonist that you would expect in a Ghibli film and the world is fairly fantastical, despite being rooted in the mundane. However, a Ghibli movie this is not.

On a conceptual level this is a really interesting world. You switch between the real world that Kokone occupies and the dream world of Ancien and the Magic Tablet whenever she falls asleep. This girl is crazy narcoleptic given how often that is, but really it hardly matters. When it comes to the dream world, it quickly becomes apparent that it is largely a mirror for events that occurred in the past when Kokone’s mother passed away and a vehicle to continue to propel that story forward.

If I had to describe this film in a word it would be that Napping Princess is straightforward. Despite the premise involving dreams and allowed to get out there, it never really goes very far with it. Which alone isn’t a big deal but the film still has moments where it can be confusing due to the way it chooses to tell its story.

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It is I, the EVIL bad guy who acts very EVIL!

There are several times in the film where cuts are unclear. Segments that linger just a bit too long, which ends up adding weird emphasis on unimportant details. Whole scenes that are definitely needed, but they go on so long that they undercut tension (looking at you stair climbing scene). Plus the weird inclusion of cartoon-y stock sound effects, at one point the villain becomes engulfed in flame and a toilet flush effect is used as his body crumples to the ground… why?

Napping Princess is held back by these flaws and a few questions the film doesn’t really bother explaining all that well. This is a film that is meant to be appreciated by children with some fare for adults, but I can’t help feel that the lack of clear explanation on things like the death of Kokone’s mother received unnecessary ambiguity in order to keep the film light for kids. Which would be fine but they show the death of the mom in the dream world, it just doesn’t exactly explain what actually happened. There is some stuff you can infer but that just ends up opening a whole can of  worms.

There are some higher concept ideas hidden away in Napping Princess, like magic representing technological progress. These are really cool, and worth mentioning, but some of these ideas would warrant their own articles so I wanted to at least mention them even though I won’t be exploring them today.

At the end of the day, this is a film that could have been great. The fictional world of Ancien and the Magic Tablet is fantastical and fun, really the best part of the film, but juggling that with the real world didn’t always work. With the interesting directorial choices on top of that, and you are left with a film that will certainly entertain, but probably won’t be your next favorite anytime soon. Too bad though, because this should have been a superb film, but at least it got closer to achieving that Ghibli magic than Mary and the Witch’s Flower ever did.


Have you seen Napping Princess? Do you believe that dreams can influence reality? Let me hear your thoughts in the comments below. If you would like to support my work please hit the donation button below. As always, thanks for reading!

Mary and the Witch’s Flower – A Fine Film but a Terrible Experience

Ponyo Goes to Luna Nova

It seriously felt like that. Mary and the Witch’s Flower is a film that I happened to be fortunate enough to go see in the theatre. The film itself is pretty good, there was some magic and whimsy there with the typical Ghibli feeling that one might expect from a studio that is an offshoot of said famed studio. That being said, I have a horror tale to tell like no other about the actual theater itself… Continue reading “Mary and the Witch’s Flower – A Fine Film but a Terrible Experience”