Fun fact, I actually juggled this and Maquia’s positions back and forth about half a dozen times while making this list, before eventually making my decision on which one to rank higher. And, if you read the review I wrote for it back when I first saw it, you can understand why I love it so much.
Putting it simply, the movie is delightful. Good light-hearted slice-of-life is one of those genres that’s very tricky to get just right but when you do, it’s like an insta-win button straight to my heart. And I’d say Mirai got it right. The movie, about a somewhat spoiled toddler coming to terms with his new baby sister being brought home is funny, sweet and heartwarming in equal measure. It’s the sort of movie I didn’t realise I even wanted so much until I got it and my only regret is that there wasn’t more.
Honestly, I mentioned this movie competing with Maquia for this spot and in a lot of ways it is amazing just how much the two movies mirror each other. Both are about parenthood and raising a family, but where Maquia is high-stakes and tragic emotional drama, Mirai is low-stakes and life-affirming. And where Maquia has both incredibly emotional highs but also kinda rushed not-great development, Mirai feels almost consistently great throughout, but without any of the real souring peaks that Maquia had (which is weird because Mamoru Hosoda up to this point almost consistently had really emotional climaxes). Heck, even in their genre they’re perfect mirrors. Maquia’s slice of life elements feel like backdrop to the fantasy, while Mirai’s fantasy elements feel like a backdrop to the slice-of-life. But I think the ultimate reason Mirai nudged out Maquia in this contest is because, after the year that was 2018, I really did want something nice and pleasant to enjoy, like this movie.
And, in that regard, Mirai obviously delivered. Plus it finally broke the no-none-Ghibli-anime movie curse in the Best Animated Feature awards! I mean, obviously, it’s not going to win (and arguably shouldn’t), but I’m cool with the nomination. After all, it’s about time Mamoru Hosoda got recognised (and yes, I am still made he didn’t get in 2012 for Wolf Children). And while I wouldn’t call this his very best movie, it’s still an excellent piece in his filmography