The Boy and the Beast
Directed by Mamoru Hosoda
Kyuta, a boy living in Shibuya, and Kumatetsu, a lonesome beast from Jutengai, an imaginary world. One day, Kyuta forays into the imaginary world and, as he's looking for his way back, meets Kumatetsu who becomes his spirit guide. That encounter leads them to many adventures.
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★★★★½ review by Erika on Letterboxd
I laughed, I cried, I smiled.
The Boy and the Beast surpassed every single one of my expectations, I adored this film. This is an emotional roller-coaster of a film, I cared, but not only that I cried, three times. The characters and their relationships felt so genuine that when they were in their worst moments, I felt legitimately bad for them and when they were in their best I smiled. This movie explores topics such as friendship, family, not knowing where you belong, etc. It's shockingly mature and it was wonderful handled. The animation is stunning, the music is beautiful, the story is heartbreaking and mature, the characters are fully developed, it's just fantastic. Within thirty minutes I knew that I was going to love this film and I sure as hell did. I didn't expect to give this movie five stars, but it left such an impact on me that I just have to. See this movie.
★★★★ review by Mandrakegray on Letterboxd
Anime Marches On! 2018 Challenge
3/5 from the 2010's
Make it three for three for me when it comes to Mamoru Hosoda's impressive run of top-drawer anime releases in recent years. "The Boy and the Beast" maintains a similar level of excellence that both "Summer Wars" and (especially) "Wolf Children" possess.
A young boy named Ren, estranged from his family and fending for himself on the streets of Tokyo (specifically the city ward of Shibuya), is noticed by a beast from another world who admires the kid's strength of character. Turns out the beast, named Kumatetsu, is looking for an apprentice. Although reluctant, Ren's curiosity gets the best of him and he stealthily follows Kumatetsu into the realm of beasts (named "Jutengai"). Stuck in this mysterious surrounding, he seeks out Kumatetsu to find the way back...and comes across a fight in the streets between Kumatetsu and his rival for succeeding the realm's King. Ren becomes empathetic when he notices that the growing crowd is cheering against Kumatetsu, and starts to loudly cheer him on. Although the brash and anger-prone Kumatetsu is bested in battle (don't worry, the fight was unofficial, and the actual sanctioned match between the rivals is still to come) it marks the moment where the boy and beast form a bond. One that will see father-figure and protégé learn life lessons from one another. However, after a while Ren begins to wonder about his life in the real world and how his actual father is doing. Managing to find his way back, he reconnects with his real life Dad and meets a girl named Kaede. But he remains torn between the two worlds...what IS his true calling?
I appreciated the relationship between the two leads. It felt real and earned. Their training scenes were a pure delight, and the actual fight scenes had heft. I'll admit that some of the dialog was annoying, with plenty of plot-explaining going on. Some also criticize the tonal shifts between the segments focusing on the wonderfully realized world of Jutengai (and its array of curious characters), and the more stoic and introspective moments in the human world. I think that was exactly what Hosoda was going for, and it worked for me. The movie's core theme (in my opinion) is loneliness, and how forging a connection can set someone free from the pain of isolation. It's a concern that multiple characters are dealing with in this movie. When the film reaches it's exciting, action filled climax (involving the son of Kumatetsu's rival and the clashing of both worlds), I was fully invested in where these characters may end up. Hosoda's films seem to do that to me with relative ease.
As a father, and considering I'm watching this because of my son, I really connected emotionally to the ending. I kind of wish I could have been more like the Beast, and taken my son on a series of exciting adventures during his formative years...but aside from annual theme-park visits and shoveling tons of movies down his gullet, truth is I was (and am) more like Ren's biological father: encouraging his interests, missing him when he's gone, and feeling blessed each time we reconnect. And you know...that's a pretty great thing, too.
So is this film. A solid change of pace from Hosoda's fantasy-tinged domestic family dramas, that still manages to be about family. One I'll undoubtedly watch again. Recommended.
★★★★ review by Kevin Clarke on Letterboxd
No other filmmaker working today mixes the fantastic with the mundane as well as Mamoru Hosoda.
★★★★ review by Haydn Elmore on Letterboxd
Sorry for the amount of high rattings. It's just I've been seeing some really great 2016 films before my long waited best and worst of 2016 lists.
The Boy and the Beast is one of the entertaining, heartbreaking, and quite fascinating films of 2016.
The story takes different turns that kept me invested into the picture for the entire 2 hours, the characters are well developed and you care about them, the animation is beautiful, there were moments where it's either funny or sad that's handled very well, and the themes of friendship, family, trust, and understanding your place is done to near perfection.
A few films to go before finalizing the list people.
★★★★ review by George on Letterboxd
A mixed bag that ultimately won me over in the third act.
The first hour of The Boy and the Beast is essentially perfect. Everything that I adore about fantasy and anime came together in a wonderful, however cliché story of a master and his apprentice.
Then, the second act. It was a certain, and most likely the right call to take the viewer back into the real world and focus on the mundane, but unfortunately it lost me and took me out of the story.
The film isn't perfect - the dialogue is clunky and exposition heavy and there are some questionable story beats, but when it shines, it does so in such a beautiful way. The montage at the end of the first act, the charm, the wit, the relationships and emotion as well as the thematic shift in the third act - whenever I sulk at the lack of great fantasies, I turn to the ever-growing library of anime films and allow myself to get whisked away once again.
I don't know where I would be if I didn't have the ability to unwind from a hard day and sink into an anime film. Seek this one out if you're looking for an adventure with a lot of heart. It won't disappoint.
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