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"Mirai from the future": A touching parable about family and horrors for the youngest

The Oscar-nominated cartoon from Mamoru Hosoda is, as always, sweet and kind, but this time too moral.


The little boy Kun lives in a loving family and, just like in a YouTube cartoon, loves trains very much. He enjoys the undivided love of his parents - but only until such time as they treacherously bring a newborn baby, a newborn sister, into the house (later it will be called Mirai, the “future”, despite all Kuhn's wishes to name her after the train). Next - the usual conflict of young children: lack of attention, whims, and nobody wants to play, and the pants are the wrong color. In parallel, in the courtyard of the house, Kun begins to meet the images of his relatives - from the past and the future - which clearly show him the value of the family.

Frame from the cartoon "Mirai from the Future"

Frame from the cartoon "Mirai from the Future"

The American Film Academy does not like Japanese animation too much, and each time it still gets to the Oscar list, this is a small, yes, event. Such a dislike, in general, is quite understandable: the approach to animation is too different, the Asian culture and mentality of the ordinary Western viewer are too specific, strange, incomprehensible. But the weirder among all the Japanese animators is Mamoru Hosode I had to wait so long for the recognition of the academy. Oh, something, and his work “Europeans” does not exactly give away to Europeans unloved by Europeans: it is absolutely universal, it is almost a Disney-like soft film, for all the good things against all the bad. And yet deceptively subtle - few, like Hosoda, can so skillfully keep on the perilous line between sensual naivety and frank caramel.

Frame from the cartoon "Mirai from the Future"

Frame from the cartoon "Mirai from the Future"

But in Mirai, he came closer than ever to come off this very face. Hosoda changed the focus from adolescents to very young children, and in his habitual moralizing began to show the destructive indulgent notes. The comedy clown here often looks ridiculous - as if the author deliberately tries to please a small audience than before he had suffered at all. The parable narrative sometimes slips noticeably on the spot - the main character is consistently shown scenes from the life of almost all close relatives known to him, teaching in general the same thing. Such lexical repetition may be excusable — given that, at the end, Hosoda still leads the story into a timeless, almost epic framework (between times playfully quoting one’s own "The girl who conquered time"). But before that, the jammed plate of the moralizing “boo-boo-boo” does not weakly break the dynamics of the narrative.

Frame from the cartoon "Mirai from the Future"

Frame from the cartoon "Mirai from the Future"

Perhaps the problem is that in “Mirai” - it seems, for the first time at Hosoda, household and fantastic parts of the story do not get along well with each other. If the first is an elegant way of describing, incredibly detailed and humane, then the second is the very dreaming, sometimes phantasmagoric parables, apparently told from a child’s perspective. And then, and then Hosod performs perfectly, but the frequent tonal jumps "Mirai" do not paint at all: as if in the middle of the film Hidetaki Koreeda you include Terry Gilliam for the little ones - and then back and in a circle.

But even in bad moments, Hosoda remains a surprisingly sensitive director: very few people in the world feel children so well and know how to work with their worldview. The protagonist Kun is a rare case when a capricious, tearful child on the screen is not at all annoying: all his emotions, no matter how excessive they are (what to do, age), are absolutely clear to us. Hosoda painstakingly wields characters and emotions, it is not enough for him to read morality - he perfectly understands that toothless poster on children works even worse than adults. “Mirai”, without unnecessary manipulation, plays with the joys and fears of the audience and more often works with the subconscious than recites the theses out loud (though not without it).

Frame from the cartoon "Mirai from the Future"

Frame from the cartoon "Mirai from the Future"

With fears, by the way, it’s generally very interesting - at least one moment from Mirai is worse than probably half of last year’s horror. From a pair of screamers, the heart can grab here even from the most avid genre viewer - especially because you least expect them from a children's cartoon. One can easily imagine how, after a terrible episode at the train station, embittered parents take their children away from the hall, shouting something after the screen about the Japanese. But no one, of course, didn’t sbrendil, and with Hosoda’s head is better than others - he just, unlike the Kondovy Disney people, doesn’t lisp, but really speaks the same language with the audience. Otherwise, it would never have occurred to him to make an episode about how Kun could not find a mother in a crowd of women of similar build and hair color — a fear so comprehensible to everyone, it’s even strange that few people had thought of exploiting it before.

And no matter how sometimes Hosod might have stumbled, Mirai hardly gets out of his generally flat filmography. The general tone of which he ideally summed up in the very same “Girl who had conquered time” - specifically in the image of a mysterious picture, that he so much wanted to see a messenger from other times. It seems there is nothing special about it, and everything is too simple, and the touches are all familiar - but you look, and somehow it becomes calm, good, cozy.

Since 31 January at the cinema.

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