The Boy and the Beast

The Boy and the Beast

Director: Mamoru Hosoda

Writer: Mamoru Hosoda

Voice Cast: Bryn Apprill, Kumiko Asô, Morgan Berry, Jessica Cavanagh, Luci Christian, Rirî Furankî, Josh Grelle, Sean Hennigan, Suzu Hirose, Chuck Huber, Brittney Karbowski, Haru Kuroki, Mamoru Miyano, Aoi Miyazaki, Sumire Morohoshi, Keishi Nagatsuka, Momoka Ohno, Alex Organ, Steve Powell, Monica Rial, Ian Sinclair, Shôta Sometani, Sam Swanson, John Swasey, Austin Tindle, Masahiko Tsugawa, Eric Vale, Kôji Yakusho, Kappei Yamaguchi, Kazuhiro Yamaji, Yô Ôizumi

Synopsis: When a young orphaned boy living on the streets of Shibuya stumbles upon a fantastic world of beasts, he's taken in by a gruff warrior beast looking for an apprentice.

MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13 for some violence and language

Note: Sadly due to a lack of transportation, a busy schedule, and unavailability of the subtitled version, I was only able to see the dubbed version of this movie. Therefore, this entire review will be based on the English dubbed version.

Stevennix2001's Rating:

9 / 10

Pros:

- Great story. Excellent well thought out script that manages to show the symbiotic relationship between a father and son.

- Animation was great.

- Cinematography during the fight scenes were good, as it puts you right into the action.

- Characters were well written and likable for the most part.

- Loved the art direction of the movie, as it helped give the film it's own aesthetic identity.

- Musical scoring was perfect, and matched the tone of the movie precisely.

Cons:

- Pacing is a bit slow around the beginning of the film, but after the first act, it picks up rather quickly.

The son becomes the father, and the father becomes the son

Over the years, we've seen a lot of father and son stories that have graced the big screen. Some good, while others just sucked. Fortunately, "The Boy and the Beast" happens to fall into the former of this conversation. The film follows a young boy, who runs away from home after his mother dies. Originally, he was supposed to live with his grand parents, but he preferred to live with his father, after his mother passed away. Sadly, his request fell on deaf ears, so he felt compelled to run away instead.

Traveling along the streets of Shibuya, with no money or a place to stay. His only companion seems to be a little white mouse, whom he adopts as a pet. As luck would have it, he meets a mysterious hooded figure that openly invites him to come along with him. A bit reluctant at first, the boy inevitably follows this mysterious figure through various dark alleyways and corners that takes him to a magical world of anthropomorphic beast people.

According to legend, humans and beast men have lived in different worlds for centuries, and humans have the highest potential of becoming demons, when exposed to their world, as they are more easily seduced by dark forces. Beast men on the other hand are noble creatures that fight for honor, and some can even ascend to godhood if they prove themselves worthy, by becoming the tribe leader. Once they become a tribe leader, they are free to ascend to become any godlike form they chose.

Kumatetsu is a powerful bearlike warrior, who's raw power and fierce competitiveness is only matched by his rude behavior and laziness. Although Kumatetsu is arguably one of the strongest warriors among his kind, the rules state that he must have an apprentice before competing to become the tribe's leader. Because of this fact, he takes in Kyuta as his apprentice.

Like most films that show a young boy bonding with a slob of a surrogate father figure, the two naturally don't get along at first. Often arguing over every little thing. But over time, the boy eventually starts to imitate his new master. Watching him from afar, while doing chores around the house. Studying all his moves, as he tries to become strong like his new master. Over time, he starts to master certain aspects to combat that even Kumatetsu hasn't figure out yet, so Kyuta and Kumatetsu form a shared bond. Kumatetsu teaches him how to become stronger, while Kyuta teaches him how to anticipate his opponent's moves.

But like most kids that grow up, Kyuta starts to yearn for a life of his own. Eventually, he finds out how to go back to the human world, where he meets a young girl that not only teaches him how to read, but she even helps him to go back to college to make something of himself. And of course, he meets his real father again after so many years, who offers him a place to stay.

Sadly, this doesn't bode well for Kumatetsu, who always saw himself as Kyuta's father figure, and feels somewhat betrayed hearing that Kyuta wants to leave the beast world, before the big match to determine who will become the new tribe leader.

Without delving too much into spoilers, the story itself is in essence a father and son story between two protagonists that have felt abandoned by the world, at one point or another. Both had holes in their hearts because nobody else wanted them, yet when they meet, it's like they complete each other. Kyuta opens Kumatetsu's heart, while teaching him that strategy plays just as big of a role in fighting as brute strength does. Meanwhile, Kyuta gains an unlikely father figure that teaches him how to be strong, and overcome any adversity in life. The two form a symbiotic relationship, where they each learn something from each other.

This plays a crucial role in the film, as Kyuta meets a character similar to himself. A dark reflection of who he could've been if it hadn't been for his surrogate family, and his new girlfriend in the human world. He confronts this new antagonist head on, but it's not until Kumatetsu makes the ultimate sacrifice, and works together with Kyuta, that they're able to find the strength to fight this opponent head on.

It's a touching story, and it definitely adds new dimensions to the classic father and son tale that we've see in most movies.

As for the animation itself, I can't say there's anything wrong with it. Like "Dragonball Z: Battle of Gods", this one combines CGI with traditional hand drawn animation, which seems to mesh beautifully. What makes the animation even more impressive is how drastically different they manage to make both worlds, from an aesthetic stand point. The human world has more of a modernized feel to it, as it meshes most of the CGI and 2-D animation together. But in the beast world, it has more of a classic samurai warrior vibe to it. Nothing is modernized, as most of the creatures live off the land. And unlike the lighting in the human world where it has more of a dark undertone to it, with darker color schemes, the beast world is mostly shown during the day to be more brighter; featuring lighter color schemes. This helps to not only differentiate the two worlds, but it also helps set up the tone throughout the entire film.

The rotating camera angles, during the combat sequences, were great, and it puts you right in the action, as you can literally see every punch and ki blast fired.

Add in the brilliant musical scoring, and it's easy to see why this movie is starting to become a favorite for next year's Oscars.

While it's not the best animated film that I've seen all year, but it's definitely worth checking out if you're into anime films with lots of action and fantasy elements to it.

© 2016 Steven Escareno

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