Mirai is a movie utterly without pretension. And believe me, it teeters on that precipice — Mamoru Hosoda’s latest film has got all the elements of “important art” meant to challenge and excite its audience: a slow-burning pace, a fantastical time travel plot, and sequences that experiment with animation and reality. But everything about Mirai is deeply sincere.
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Mamoru Hosoda has laid his life out bare on the silver screen — though at first glance it doesn’t seem obvious. The 51-year-old Japanese filmmaker exclusively directs in anime films, garnering critical acclaim for his deeply affecting, achingly human fables such as The Girl Who Leapt Through Time, The Wolf Children, and The Boy and the Beast. Through his films as well as the upcoming Mirai, Hosoda has managed to turn his life into sweeping, whimsical fantasies that both enchant and educate.
“I tend to be inspired by what’s happening around me,” Hosoda told /Film in an interview ahead of the release of Mirai (out in select theaters November 29). “I hope that the audiences would watch my movies and think, ‘I know this is fiction, but I wonder if that happened to him in real life.'”
But Mirai stands out from the pack because it doesn’t deal with Hosoda’s specific experience, but that of his son. The sci-fi film follows a 4-year-old boy named Kun, who is overcome with jealousy when his parents bring home his new baby sister. Unable to consolidate his complicated feelings of love and disdain, Kun finds himself confronted by a future version of his sister, now a time-traveling teenager. They embark on a whirlwind adventure through time in a breathtaking film that dances between dreams and reality.
I had the pleasure of speaking with Hosoda, who directed one of my favorite films,The Girl Who Leapt Through Time, about Mirai and how it became his most personal film yet.
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(Welcome to Let’s Get Animated!, a column that spotlights the best of film animation. In this edition: the best modern anime film directors to keep an eye on.)
Ask any animation buff and they can list off a handful of great Western animation directors, and one Japanese one. Despite anime’s place on the global stage — dominating the pop culture stratosphere since the ‘90s and going on to win prestige thanks to the efforts of Studio Ghibli — most people still think of Hayao Miyazaki as the lone renowned anime filmmaker. But simply taking a shallow dive into the anime industry proves that is not the case.
That’s right, I’m back to talking about anime. While last time I gave you a beginner’s guide to the best gateway anime, this month I’ll be covering some of the most promising and accomplished anime film directors working today. Most of these filmmakers have had to ward off breathless press questions about whether they consider themselves “the Next Miyazaki” or had their films endlessly compared to Studio Ghibli’s catalogue. But these filmmakers have more than proved that they can stand on their own.
Let it be known that this list will exclusively cover directors still working today, and who work mostly in film. (So, no Isao Takahata, or Satoshi Kon, who is a master due for his own column sometime in the future.)
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While the world has been scrambling to name any promising anime director as the next Hayao Miyazaki (while the man himself diligently ignores all the hoopla with another un-retirement), Mamoru Hosoda has quietly proved to be a visionary filmmaker in his own right. With a career spanning wildly inventive films like The Girl Who Leapt Through Time and Summer Wars, Hosoda has not delivered a bad film yet. And now U.S. audiences can soon experience his latest film, Mirai, in theaters this fall. Read More »