Some have called him “the next Miyazaki”. Certainly, even when about fantastical events, his films still hold a realistic and grounded quality, much like Ghibli films do. His films are also easy to recognise – all of them retain consistent elements, a similar look and feel that bring to life their wide range of characters and grab your attention with remarkable atmosphere and unique details.
Some of the recurring themes and scenarios you will regularly find in Hosoda’s films include:
- Family and friendship: His films often deal with the power of family ties, as well as friendship. With good friends and good family, you can overcome many hurdles!
- Personal growth: Throughout the span of each movie, character’s within Hosoda’s films grow as people. Some learn to be more mature, while others learn to open up more to others, or to believe in themselves more.
- Realistic characters: There are no one-note characters here! Everyone has a story to tell. It’s not just that main character’s that get backstories and grow as people. Even those who are there for brief scenes are fleshed out to different degrees. We learn character’s fears, doubts and desires, and come to care about them.
- The sky: As you can see from the poster art below, Hosoda loves the sky. Maybe because it represents limitless possibilities, or maybe because everyone is connected under the same sky… Maybe it’s just because it’s pretty! Either way, you’ll see it a lot. How you choose to interpret it’s meaning is up to you!
Now, let’s take a look at each of Hosoda’s Studio Chizu films…
The Girl Who Leapt Through Time (2006) – A story about love and friendship
Makoto Konno was just an ordinary girl, until one day she finds she can travel back in time! Using this newfound power, she sets out to make her life perfect. A surprise test in class? Just pop back in time and study those questions. An embarrassing situation? She can just redo the day and avoid it. Hit on the head with a ball? Not a problem! Things seem to be going well for Makoto, until she learns that time traveling won’t solve all her problems… And may actually be causing more problems for those she cares about.
“…a genuine display of passion and an instant classic.” – Anime Insider
Summer Wars (2009) – A story about family
Kenji, an awkward high-schooler and maths genius, spends most of his life hanging out in the virtual community OZ and has a crush on his schoolmate, Natsuki. Kenji never thought Natsuki would even give him a second glance, so imagine his surprise when she forces him to come along to her great-grandmother’s 90th birthday… and pretend to be her fiancé! Before he even has time to get used to this strange situation and get to know Natsuki’s quirky extended family, an AI called Love Machine goes on the rampage inside OZ, using Kenji’s account! He’ll have to get the help of Natsuki and her family to stop this virtual menace from causing real life destruction!
“Hosoda is the new king, the best story teller working within the animated medium in Japan and – quite possibly – the world.” Todd Brown, Twitch Film
Wolf Children (2012) – A story about motherhood
It’s a typical story of girl meets boy. Except the boy in this case is also a werewolf. Hana and her sometimes fuzzy husband start a family, and life seems perfect… Until her husband is killed while hunting for food. Despite her sorrow, Hana strives on, wishing to raise her children the best she can. Raising kids is hard enough as it is, but it’s even harder when your children are werewolves!
“Mamoru Hosoda’s deeply moving and astoundingly contemplative work touches on the fleeting nature of life” – Robert Bell, Exclaim!
The Boy and the Beast (2015) – A story about fatherhood
Ren is only nine years old when his mother passes away. With his father absent and his relatives not keen on looking after him, he decides to run away. While living on the streets, Ren meets the beast man, Kumatetsu. Following Kumatetsu into an alley, Ren finds himself in the Beast Kingdom, a world of strange and wonderful beings. There, he is taken as a disciple by Kumatetsu and given the name Kyuta. While life isn’t easy for Kyuta and Kumatetsu, their relationship grows stronger. But what happens when Kyuta finds a way back to the human world? What world will Kyuta choose?
“…reminds you that Hosoda’s ‘visionary’ status is well-earned.” – TheMusic.com.au
Mirai of the Future (2018) – A story about siblings
Coming to cinemas August 23, Mirai tells the story of Kun, a spoilt 4 year old boy. His life is pretty perfect, until a new sister arrives on the scene. Now no longer the number one person in his parents life, Kun doesn’t know how to cope. While moping in the family garden, Kun meets a peculiar yet familiar prince. He then starts to meet a strange cast of characters, such as a future version of his sister, and young version of his grandfather and encounters the distorted world of his favourite train set. Through these encounters, Kun learns valuable life lessons.
“…a remarkable blend of the ingenious and the heartfelt.” – Michael Leader, LITTLE WHITE LIES
With amazing directors like Mamoru Hosoda around, we know that we won’t be short on astounding anime films any time soon!