Let’s face it. With the recent death of Japanese Film Director Isao Takahata, we all know that anime maestro Hayao Miyazaki is next up in line. With an age of 77 years, and currently in production of a new feature film, in which constant stressful environments and work load frequently arises, I’m incredibly sad to say that Hayao may not be with us for much longer. Any person who knows about Ghibli, loves his work. From his enchanting fairy tales such as Spirited Away and My Neighbor Totoro, to his progressive down to earth stories about adapting to society, such as Kiki’s Delivery Service and Porco Rosso, Miyazaki always knows how to enchant his audience. The question now is, when Hayao eventually perishes, who would be his successor?
A couple directors come to mind when thinking about this subject. The obvious choice would be Masaaki Yuasa, a recent big name in the animation industry. The problem? Most of his projects are adult oriented, relying on heavy usages of drinking and gore as means for expression. There’s nothing wrong with that. Heck, I loved Night Is Short, Walk On Girl. It’s just that it doesn’t really scream MIYAZAKI, does it? Even with one of his latest pieces, Lu Over The Wall, Yuasa has his own quirks, that don’t really belong into the Studio Ghibli catalog.
Another name which comes to mind is Hiromasa Yonebayashi, a former worker at Ghibli, who later made The Secret World Of Arrietty (which was a Studio Ghibli production) and this year’s Mary and the Witch’s Flower. My main gripe with Yonebayashi is that, in my personal opinion, he just doesn’t have the knack nor character sensibilities which Miyazaki tends to delve into his films. Yonebayashi is a filmmaker who takes simple and concise actions, rather than risks, making his film’s feel watered down and unsatisfying.
So, we’re left with one another person, my personal favorite heir to the grand throne, Mamoru Hosoda. Writing and Directing hits such as Summer Wars, The Girl Who Leaped Through Time, and Wolf Children, Hosoda’s filmography further proves his similar eye and keen approach in diving into the surreal, rather than literal. With his latest endeavor, his directing work on Mirai knocks all of his previous work out of the park. His semi-autobiographical approach isn’t just heartwarming and filled with childlike innocence, but it brings me back to Miyazaki’s earlier works, in which the theme of family and reunion are commonly used for character’s self-expression and motivations. Mamoru Hosoda, in all of his film’s, uses the artistic medium in creative and detailed ways, as means for reflection. His films don’t feel like your common anime schlock, but rather something personal.
While I would prefer not to choose a new heir from the get-go, we should always be prepared for the worst. If it was going to be ANYBODY that’s currently working in the Japanese Animation film circuit it would obviously be Hosoda by a long shot. His film’s don’t feel artificial, and don’t rely on the all too frequent problem of visual flare overpowering it’s narrative, which modern director’s such as Makoto Shinkai are clearly guilty of. Hosoda is pure. And while some of his film’s may be dud’s, with his current change of pace in diving into less literal narratives and more thought provoking pieces on familiar themes, at this point in time, Hosoda just seems like the clear front-runner.
Mirai From The Future Opens In Select Cinemas on November 29th