From the director behind The Girl Who Leapt Through Time (2006) and Wolf Children (2012), Mamoru Hosoda returns with THE BOY AND THE BEAST, a fantastical film that explores the notion of identity and bonds between two individuals from polar-opposite worlds.
Following the death of his mother and a father who has abandoned him for good, Ren (Aoi Miyazaki / Shota Sometani) had no choice but to run away from home. In a one-off chance encounter on the streets of Shibuya, Ren encounters a mysterious stranger, Kumatetsu (Koji Yakusho), who decides to ask Ren to be his pupil. Curious about the stranger, Ren soon finds himself following Kumatetsu into the Beast Kingdom — a faraway realm that happens to be around the corner of the human world. Little did Ren know that he would be stuck in the Beast Kingdom … forever.
During his many years of training with Kumatetsu in the Beast Kingdom, Ren — now known as Kyuta– never once looked back at the human world. That was until Kyuta accidentally finds his way back to the human world. Torn by his double life, Kyuta must choose between the Beast Kingdom and the human world: which world will he choose?
Set in the city of Japan’s Shibuya, Mamoru Hosoda perfectly replicates the sheer vibrancy of the city’s youthfulness and liveliness. From the photo-realistic backgrounds to the action sequences to the characters’ expressions; the film pays great attention to every illustration and animation detail that each scene possesses. After all, it is a Hosoda film, and it is a known fact that Hosoda values the beauty of intricate details and traditional art. Yet, he is always looking at ways to evolve his directorial form. Using CG to enhance the hand-drawn art, this combination of traditional and contemporary approach adds realistic depth to the film, making the world feel immersive more than ever.
In this story directed and written by Hosoda, the central spotlight of The Boy and the Beast is none other than the relationship between its leading characters, Kumatetsu and Kyuta. Breathing life into Hosoda’s storyboards, Miyazaki (young Ren) and Yakusho has effortlessly captured the essence of a Father-son relationship. With Kumatetsu’s inability to teach and Kyuta’s rebellious nature, it was impossible for the master and student to be in sync. From their comical sparrings to their mutual frustration, this bond between Kyuta and Kumatetsu will put things into perspective and enlighten viewers of all ages.
The Boy and The Beast may flaunt moments of comedy and empowerment but the film also had fleeting moments of darkness and uncertainty. Who was Kyuta? Is this really who he should become? Or should he head back to the human world where he belongs? As we undertake this journey with Kyuta, the film stresses the importance of how the people around us makes up who we are today. Strength doesn’t derive from one’s self — it is also the strength we gain from other people that enriches one’s mind, body, and identity. As a result, this collation of power will enable anyone to overcome anything.
The Boy and the Beast DVD extras: This special DVD features two important extras: 1) Making of Documentary (45 minutes) and 2) Cast Interviews (30 minutes). For a significant production like The Boy and the Beast, these extras offer great insight into the overall production process. From the storyboarding process to the animation process, these extras will certainly empower one’s appreciation for animation — especially when the film is created and directed by Mamoru Hosoda himself.
Overall: THE BOY AND THE BEAST is a whole new fantastical world created by Hosoda that bears no limit in its imagination and artistry. A story about one’s identity and growth from childhood to adolescence, this story sets out to prove that heart and strength can come in all variations of sizes and depth. The Boy and the Beast strove for perfection — and there is no doubt that it has achieved its goal.