“I was envious of those who had siblings when I was younger, I thought that their lives were richer,” anime director Mamoru Hosoda admits to MyM Buzz, as he explains how he came to create the story for his latest film Mirai. A sweet, heart-warming family film about four-year-old Kun, who struggles to accept the arrival of his new born sister Mirai. Used to receiving all his parents’ love, the little boy begins to act out until one day he is visited by his sister -now a teenager- who has travelled back in time to help teach him how to grow up.
It’s a human drama that is a perfect next step for Hosoda, whose filmography includes the masterful human dramas Wolf Children and The Girl Who Leapt Through Time. It also skilfully combines the themes that he used in these films with the ones featured in his more action-packed anime The Boy and the Beast and Summer Wars. With its imaginative narrative, compelling characters and stunning visuals, Mirai is a film that is sure to leave a smile on fans’ faces.
Mirai is named after your daughter, could you please elaborate on how fatherhood inspired this story?
“I think small children are strange creatures to many people, you don’t know what they’re thinking. I find it interesting, having my kids I just found everything that they do so interesting since becoming a father. But, they’re people. Okay, they might be three or four, looking back at my childhood I might have been vaguer, but I think nowadays children have more of an opinion for themselves now and I find that fascinating.”
The film focuses on the bond between siblings, Kun has a lot of learning to do to be a good older brother to Mirai but their relationship is very cute. How did you try to build that as a writer?
“It starts out as a sibling rivalry, I’m an only child so I didn’t experience that myself, but they fight for their parents’ love. Your sibling is the first person that you really fight with for love, of some sort. I was envious of those who had siblings when I was younger, I thought that their lives were richer, but this is a story about growing up. Kun is aware of this other person and becomes aware that she’s his sister. He’s learning that it’s not about receiving love, you also must give it. So, it’s a story about growing up, and that’s what I was focused on.”
Mirai features a lot of the same themes that you touch on in your other films, like parenthood in Wolf Children and The Boy and the Beast, family in Summer Wars, and to some extent time travel in The Girl Who Leapt Through Time. Why are these themes so interesting for you?
“The big theme here is childhood, I think in any of my films the key thing is that the main character changes as a person through the film. The story is there to show the process of them changing, in my films children change, and their parents change at the same time. But, you need to take time to develop these ideas naturally so that’s why I include time-travel in this story to explain the dynamic changes of the children in the film.”
The film truly captures a child’s imagination in the adventures that Kun goes on with a teenage Mirai and his other family members, how did you come up with these ideas?
“It’s a combination of various aspects, this film is based on my own experience and it’s based on what I didn’t have. For example, I didn’t have any siblings, so I had to imagine what it was like, I wanted to experience that first-hand, so I made a movie about that. The sibling relationship in the film is made from my observations of my children, but also the kind of relationship I wanted to have. With Wolf Children, I didn’t have children then, so I had to imagine what it was like, and in The Boy and the Beast I didn’t know how to become a father. So, I think I’m just trying to create what I don’t have, what I lack in my life, and I think I’m compensating that with my imagination. Also, a child’s world is quite small, but they have a huge imagination to compensate that, what’s in their head is bigger than what’s real to them. That’s what I wanted to achieve in my film.”
My personal favourite adventure that Kun goes on is with his great grandfather, and the story of how he met his wife, why did you choose to include this story in the film?
“That’s my favourite as well. When my kids were born they had their great-grandfather, but he didn’t live to see them grow-up, or to see my son start to learn how to ride a bike. But how he met his wife is a true story, it’s the story of my grandparents. We heard this story of how he told her to race him, and if he won then she would marry him. So, I wanted to include this piece of my family history there. It was a family mystery, because he had a bad leg -like in the film- so he couldn’t have won [by just running], but this is how I imagine it happened.”
Interview by Roxy Simons on behalf MyM Buzz, to read the full interview click here.
All photos © Studio Chizu and All The Anime