Mirai is a glorious anime that sees Kun, a four-year-old boy, deal with the arrival of his baby-sister, with the help of character from the past and present.
Sarah Cook: Where did you come up with the idea?
Mamoru Hosoda: So my children are the influence. My son is five, and my daughter is two. When I started making the film, he was three and she was just born. I was an only child and always wanted a sibling. My boy was an only child until he wasn’t and I was envious about his life with a sibling. I’ll never have that. I wanted to create that experience for myself.
SC: What challenges are there bringing this to life?
MH: I found it interesting as a parent watching my son growing up. I didn’t know until I became a parent that I am actually living his life. It’s like I am four. I never expected this to happen. I can influence my son but my son is a massive influence on me. It wasn’t difficult to portray his view of the world. I was able to put myself in his shoes.
SC: You said that adults and children are similar, how so?
MH: People think that adults are mature and children are immature. But I think it is all about role-play. Once you are living with very young children, I have found that you can see the soul of a human-being. When you are an adult, you wear layers of clothes – metaphorically speaking. You are wearing your Dad’s clothing then you are Dad. If you are wearing CEO-clothing, you are CEO. I’m sure even if you are grown-ups, you have the same fundamentals and sometimes you want to take these clothes off to see what you are like without them. When you do that, your fourty-three year old self is the same as your four year old self.
SC: Is there anything we can learn from our children, and the children in the film?
MH: Everybody was a child once and you learn things. I think kid’s perspective is interesting and we are a part of the bigger picture – your family history. As a grown-up, you know about those who came before. If you are four, it is amazing, you have no concept of your family members. If you are four you can’t believe that your Dad was four once so finding out that you are a big part of this history is like “wow, amazing.” But you lose it, as you get older. As an adult, you go to somebody’s funeral it’s sad but when you are young, you think more about it. That’s what you could learn from the children here.
SC: Are there any stories from your childhood that you brought into the film?
MH: There are lots. For example, the bicycle scene is something that I did. Also the moment where he has a temper tantrum before going out; my son is like that. All of it is from my own experience. I find it really interesting now that I am a parent.
SC: The animation is beautiful, how did you develop the look and style of the film?
MH: That is very nice to hear. Thank you very much. Nowadays, particularly with American animation, there is a lot of CGI. I just wanted to remind the audience that animation is drawings. My background is oil paintings, I wanted to use good drawings made by hand. I wanted to make the audience aware that it is still a great medium.
SC: You’ve dealt with time with your previous work, do you like playing with the past and the present in your movies?
MH: Somebody actually pointed out that Mirai is quite similar to Christmas Carol by dickens. I guess yes – people leaping through time and people changing time plays a crucial role there. When you touch the truth, you are in the moment, when you think about it, you have to look at it from a different time scale – I like playing with that concept of time so it can be understood from a different perspective.
SC: Most important film – has you children seen this film and did they enjoy it?
MH: Yes and yes – I am relieved. I told him that the character of Kun was based on him. He liked it! I’m glad they both did and he actually said “oh that’s me!”
SC: Thank you!
MH: Thank you!