When it comes to the most prestigious award for film, the animation category usually looks to Studio Ghibli for nominees. But for the 91st edition, for the first time ever, they nominated a non-Ghibli film. That of course, is Studio Chizu and Mamoru Hosoda’s MIRAI. This would also serve as Hosoda’s first Academy Award nomination, something that puts him in the same conversation as Hayao Miyazaki himself.

© Mamoru Hosoda / TOHO

And now, the director has released an official statement regarding his film’s historic nomination. In Studio Chizu’s official LINE blog, the director stated that he’s “Just So Surprised” by the nomination. He then said he feels a “great meaning and significance” just for the fact that the film tells the everyday life and growth of a little child. He then added that he hopes that the nomination would make more people enjoy MIRAI deeply.

The film will be going up against some tough competition to become the second Japanese anime film to win an Oscar. Standing in its way are The Incredibles 2, Isle of Dogs, Ralph Breaks the Internet, and Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse.

Last year, the Academy did not nominate any anime film. As for Japanese films winning the award for Best Animated Feature Film, only Ghibli’s Spirited Away has ever won it, and that was way back in 2003. And since then, they only ever nominated Ghibli films, snubbing many other great Japanese animated features that aren’t made by the iconic studio. The Academy will be announcing the winners on 24 February 2019.