By: Devonne Tourre
Ever wanted to wander into a magical world of beasts? Mamoru Hosoda—creator of wonderful Japanese award-winning masterpieces such as Wolf Children and Summer Wars, brings The Boy and the Beast—a new tale featuring Kyuta, a young orphan who lives on the streets of Shibuya, and his journey into the neighboring world known as the Beast Kingdom.
Kyuta, a nine-year-old boy who has recently lost his mother flees into the streets of Shibuya, Japan with a hatred for humanity. Meanwhile, the Beast Lord of the Beast Kingdom wants Kumatetsu—a strong yet absent-minded beast that resides in the Beast Kingdom—to find an apprentice for him to teach. Kumatetsu travels into the human world where he finds Kyuta wandering about the streets. Though opposed to the beast’s offer of apprenticeship, Kyuta follows the beast into the Beast Kingdom. However, Kyuta realizes that he is unable return to the human world. After a fight with another beast named Iozen and seeing how persistent Kumatetsu is during battles, Kyuto finally takes the offer and becomes Kumatetsu’s apprentice and they begin training together.
This movie was originally released in Japan on July 11, 2015 and earned 48.6 million dollars at the box office. The Boy and The Beast came to America on March 4, 2016 where it will be only shown in select theaters with English-dubbed audio, or with Japanese audio and English subtitles.
The Boy and The Beast has the best imagery of all of Mamoru Hosoda’s movies. The merge of a mainly animated, two-dimensional movie with 3D scenes made the movie an attractive experience. The 3D scenes—such as the chase sequences and the overall final battle of the movie—felt so extreme, and really made the mind race almost as if the viewer were actually in those scenes. These sections of the movie were tossed in rarely yet expertly, making them compelling to watch when they were present and really brought the movie to life. The characters (including the minor ones surprisingly) were filled with personality, and it showed throughout the movie.
According to the description of the official website, Kyuta and Kumatetsu slowly form this father-and-son bond as they ventured together throughout the movie. I didn’t really see a father-son relationship. Rather, I saw it as a mentor-student relationship as they learned from each other more than I expected. This dynamic seemed to reflect the deep relationships that can form between two people during their adventures.
The aspect I loved most about this movie was its lack of romance. Although an odd opinion, even though there was a female character (named Kaede) present in the latter half of the movie, who helped Kyuta learn how to read and write after going into the Beast Kingdom when he was a little boy, there weren’t any romantic feelings between her and Kyuta. Kyuta and Kaede having more than a friendly relationship wasn’t forced, which is what tends to make some movies a complete bore and sappy towards the end. A lot of movies have that predictable love relationships , and not having this dynamic between Kyuta and Kaede made the movie feel refreshing to a person who watches mostly American movies.
Is The Boy and The Beast a must-watch? Not necessarily, especially if you don’t like animated cartoons. Within the parameters of Japanese trends and storylines, the story was spectacular, although it may fall short of American storyline expectations.