My favorite anime film as of this moment is Wolf Children. I will put an asterisk by that by saying that I have not yet seen Nausicaa, Princess Mononoke, Spirited Away, or your name. (I do plan to see those soon.) That being said, if a film ever moves me to tears as much as Wolf Children did, I might drown in my own tears. That scene where Ame makes his choice…
Wolf Children was made by Mamoru Hosoda. So when I heard he had a new film coming out, it piqued my interest. Not only that, but it was going to be in theaters. No reason to burst the budget, right? Well, that got blown up when I had to pay $13.50 for a matinee ticket. $13.50? That’s highway robbery! I barely had enough money for popcorn and an Orange Fanta, but I was ready to watch Mirai nonetheless.
Mirai is the type of film where you know the punchline, but even so, you want that punchline delivered in such a powerful way that it knocks you off your feet. I can’t sum the punchline up into one sentence, but my expectation was that Mirai would sum up that punchline into one scene. There would be that one “a-ha!” moment that would make the floodgates to my eyes open. And to make it perfectly clear, I was ready to cry.
But that never happened. Instead, what I was left with was the desire to bash the main character Kun over the head again and again. Just shut up, you little brat! You are the most conceited, self-absorbed, narcissistic 4-year-old I’ve ever met! The world does not revolve around you, even though in this movie, it does.
Let’s set the story. Kun is a 4-year-old boy who likes trains. One day, his parents come home to let him know that he now has a baby sister, who they name Mirai. Kun hates Mirai because Mirai gets all the attention. Kun then has encounters with his dog in human form, his sister in future form, his mother in past form, and his grandfather in past form, all to show him exactly how important his family is to him. The point the movie hammers home is simple: your family cares about you, even though you think they don’t.
The trouble is, the point never makes it home to Kun! He remains just as selfish and bratty in the final scene of the movie as he was in the first. He never gets it. Instead, what we get a lot of is Kun whining his head off. God bless the voice actor/actress who plays Kun, because he/she did an excellent job at hammering home what a brat Kun is. At the same time, I wanted to tear the voice box out of his or her throat because I was so sick of hearing Kun whine! (*this is just a joke)
I felt no sympathy for poor little Kun. Your dog lost all the attention he used to get. Kun doesn’t care. Mirai got born with a birthmark that she still carries on her hand, and she may not ever get to marry. Kun doesn’t care. Kun’s mother got in deep trouble for wrecking a whole house. Kun doesn’t care. Kun’s grandfather was badly injured in World War II and had to work hard to support his family to get them where they were (with every American watching this film knowing just how devastating that war was to Japan). Kun doesn’t care.
In the end, Kun only half-repents. In fact, it’s not even clear that he did repent. He kind of sort of warmed up to Mirai just a teeny tiny bit. This is where the Republican Christian conservative right-wing red-blooded American in me wants a repentance scene. You know the scene, the one where the main character realizes they’re wrong and decides to change. Think Scrooge in A Christmas Carol when he sees the ghost of Christmas yet to come. If Kun has that moment, that scene where he says “I love Mirai and my family after all,” then I was fully ready to burst into tears.
You had me, Hosoda. You had me all the way. You missed out, Hosoda, because you could have had me on my knees with a handkerchief. You set up the baseball on the tee, but chose never to swing the bat when a home run was so obvious. Trouble is, you never gave me that moment. Kun gave a little bit of sympathy to Mirai in the train station scene, then had a little smile with her at the end. But nothing like that famous scene in Wolf Children where Ame decides he’s going to be… you know.
It kills me to say that Mirai was a disappointment. I was firmly engrossed in this movie all the way. But I never got that chance to cry, or laugh, or celebrate. Instead, at the end of the film, I just wanted to never hear Kun speak again, because I was so sick of his whining. It wasn’t a bad film by any means. But it wasn’t a great one, and when you’re the guy who did Wolf Children, greatness is to be expected.
Overall rating: 6 out of 10
After years of doing the four-star review system, it is now obsolete with the proliferation of weighted reviews online. I’m going with a system that everyone can understand: 1 through 10. If you care to see what I think of other anime, please check out My Anime List here: https://myanimelist.net/animelist/crazypackersfan