Mamoru Hosada’s Mirai is a poignant family drama. Young Kun gets jealous after the arrival of his new baby sister, Mirai. His young imagination goes into overdrive as he dreams of meeting ancestors and princes, as well as a grown-up version of Mirai.
Hosada creates the world of Mirai through Kun’s eyes and it’s a soaring adventure with Hosada presenting a stunning visual exploration of nature, houses, and trains portrayed in exquisite detail .
I sat down to talk with Hosada through a translator about the deeply personal Mirai and how his touching story of family connections was influenced by his own children. Read our chat and watch this Awards Daily exclusive clip.
This could be your most personal film to date, because the birth of your child influenced its creation?
This came from personal experience. Every morning I like to ask my son about his dreams and one day he said, “I met my little sister as an adult.” When I heard that, I got jealous and that inspired the idea for the story of Mirai.
Once you have that idea, what’s your creative process? As a storyteller, do you write? Or as a director, do you storyboard?
For this movie, because the idea was based on having a young child as a protagonist, it was really important with this creative process to make a story on that idea. To have a young protagonist is difficult, but I really wanted to showcase the happiness from spending time with a young child.
Once I decided to do it, the creative process flowed naturally. I wrote the script and then storyboarded.
Were there challenges in having a young child protagonist? Or as you have a young child, were there no challenges?
It was really challenging because first of all, how do you understand how a four-year-old would feel? Also, would the audience understand it? As an adult, you have to teach the child how to live their life? But from spending time with the child, it’s actually the child that teaches you and they see life so differently and interacting with my own children, you relive your own childhood.
With this narrative, you have the fantasy world and the real world of a family with Mirai. How do you balance those two worlds?
As adults, we think the human world is the center of our lives. Kids see the world so different. What we consider fantasy, a child doesn’t. So, if the dog starts talking, the kid doesn’t question it. So, I took that and integrated it, balancing it.
I loved the idea of having the dad stay home, it made the story so modern because more dads are staying home these days and the mom goes to work.
A lot of Westerners think Japan has a conservative way of life where gender roles are set, but in Japan, this is actually happening too. The dads are staying home, but it’s happening around the world where the definition of family is changing.
I wanted to showcase how the definition of what family is, shouldn’t be existing for the good of society because it’s convenient. I want people to be happy. If they could stay home and be with their children to be happy, then that’s OK.
What did you learn from making this film?
Reliving childhood and seeing how children see the world is so exciting. Everything is new and fun and exciting. As adults, we see things from one point of view, where it’s boring, but for kids, everything is fresh. It made me realize that.
Your voice casting was such where you didn’t choose a young child, but a young woman.
I did have kids do the audition, but when a kid tries to act, they’re so childlike. Kun carries a lot of adult problems. He claims Mirai has taken his parents love, and his whole journey is learning how to give love in order to get love. It’s something adults experience, so I needed an actor who could bridge that gap of what kids can understand and what adults can understand.
You’ve worked with Takagi Masakatsu before. What conversations did you have this time?
We talked about how to express childhood, but how to learn from childhood. We wanted to show the theme of family history with the score and express that through the use of the score.
Watch this Awards Daily exclusive clip: