A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Mirai is a Japanese animated movie about a 4-year-old boy who's bored and upset about being a new big brother and ends up time-traveling to meet family members from the future and past. Although the movie features a young main character, the overall story and lessons may be better for tweens and up -- and it may be most appreciated by adults, who can understand the nuances of Kun's journey. There a few potentially frightening moments, like when Kun imagines people turning into demons and when he ends up alone at a train station for "lost kids" that also seems to stand in for a scary nightmare. Kun also purposely bothers, pokes at, and hits his baby sister with a toy. But ultimately, this is a sweet story about a little boy learning to value being a big brother and belonging to his family.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
MIRAI is a Japanese animated drama about a 4-year-old boy named Kun (voiced by Jaden Waldman in the English-dubbed version) who's not thrilled when his mother (Rebecca Hall) and father (John Cho) come home with his baby sister, Mirai. Kun starts to feel increasingly ignored and usurped in his parents' affections and acts out accordingly: yelling, poking his baby sister, crying, and throwing tantrums. Things change when Kun starts to have time-traveling experiences in his garden and meets an older, teen version of his baby sister; a human version of his family dog; a preschool-age version of his mom; and also his WWII-veteran great-grandfather (Daniel Dae Kim). Each experience helps little Kun appreciate his family -- even baby Mirai -- more and even offers him the strength to do things like ride a bike.
Is it any good?
The type of animated film parents might enjoy more than kids, this magical sibling adventure is a dreamy, touching look at the importance of family ties and knowing your personal history. Kun is a believably upset new big brother who, however misguidedly, feels replaced in his parents' affections. Director Mamoru Hosoda beautifully captures the emotional turmoil of introducing a newborn to an already established family of three -- from the realistically exhausted (and occasionally bickering) parents to the no-nonsense grandparents and, of course, the skeptical, downright angry older child, who in this case can't control his emotions.
The trippy time-defying moments in Mirai are funny and heartfelt. Even the dog is turned into an older human man who recalls being upset by Kun's birth. A particularly touching sequence has Kun meeting his great-grandfather, a motorcycle-driving mechanic injured in World War II. The older man (who doesn't really know what's going on) teaches Kun about confidence and courage, and little Kun brings that message back into his current life. The dreamy sequences all change Kun for the better, making him a more empathetic son, dog owner, and, finally, big brother.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how Mirai compares to other Japanese animated movies. Do you think young viewers are the intended audience? If not, who is?
How does little Kun learn from his mistakes? What changes does he make to his behavior? How is he representative of young preschool-age boys?
- In theaters: November 30, 2018
- On DVD or streaming: April 9, 2019
- Cast: John Cho, Rebecca Hall, Daniel Dae Kim
- Director: Mamoru Hosoda
- Studio: GKIDS
- Genre: Family and Kids
- Topics: Brothers and Sisters
- Run time: 98 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG
- MPAA explanation: thematic elements including some scary images
- Last updated: January 24, 2020
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