The modesty of the subject of the new Mamoru Hosoda surprises as much as it promises to be a sizeable challenge: far from the marvelousness of the Children of Wolves or the Boy and the Beast, far from the sentimental Sci-fi of The Girl Who Leapt Through Time or Summer Wars, Mirai of The Future animation evokes an apocalypse on the scale of the household, namely the arrival of a little sister who causes the only child to lose the oh so enviable status he had until then.
Mirai of The Future animation critic
The subject, treated at child level, brings together all staging biases, the most interesting of which is that of the architectural setting. The family house is thus devoid of partition, the garden separated by bay windows on the upper floors, marked by landings of the height of the eldest son, who thus sees the entire distribution of the rooms, and the entirety of a fireplace that goes find themselves phagocytosed by the presence of the intruder. The precision of the frame and the play on the spaces thus affirm, from the start, the undeniable mastery of the director. Hosoda plays on levels, sweeps across a theater of operations that takes on the air of a battlefield when viewed from a child’s height, the proportions varying depending on the point of view.
However, there is here the material for a short film, at most, and rather quickly, the micro-events which give pride of place to the crises and the stereo sound of children’s cries can put a strain on the sensitive viewer. This is where the garden comes in, fertile ground for the imagination of the child which, like visual therapy, will allow him to explore the most unbridled areas of his unconscious.
Thanks to the characters of his world (the dog, the members of his family, but also his favorite toys) transformed into parallel realities, Kun embarks on trips that unfold space and time: it is a return to the origins (the childhood of his mother), a contact with the young girl who will become his sister and the confrontation of demons as so many derivatives of very legitimate impulses (blame of parental authority, desire for death of the intruder or running away to gain independence).
A rather pleasant picture book is then constructed, anxious, once again, to privilege a point of view and to make the imaginary the ground of maturity, even of reconciliation with reality; one can nevertheless wonder to what extent a more aesthetic and dramaturgical logic does not also preside over these swerves. Fairly mechanically, these sequences alternate with a somewhat redundant return to normal, and at times seem to be the pretext for a new graphic universe, certainly most often perfectly mastered. This is particularly the case in this disheveled final sequence in Tokyo station, which mobilizes animation techniques far more advanced than the framing narrative and strongly marks the desire for a gradation of the sequences, as if to reward the patience of the spectator. We find the visual vertigo of the most beautiful scenes of Summer Wars, but with the same little embarrassment that one felt in front of the bombastic finale with the whale in The Boy and the Beast.
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One will undoubtedly retort that the extremes make up precisely the psyche of a small child, and that this account never leaves his point of view. But the talent deployed to give it substance, the visual maturity to provide access to universes of which he himself does not master the keys could imply a height of vision and a more marked ambition in writing; to reach an emotion that goes beyond simple empathy and would touch the universality of recourse to fiction to heal the wounds of reality.