We often forget what the meaning of strength is. We often label it with definitions from which we are taught or shown. These definitions are the ones we are all very familiar with as they range from the strength to fight against the odds to the physical manifestation of strength. The meaning for strength that we often forget about is the strength we gain from those around us. From everyone with whom we have ever had the chance of interacting and engaging with; to what drives us at our core. Without it, we feel as a shell of our former selves; with a void in our soul that pulls and tears at us from within. This darkness has a way of manifesting itself from within and it can drive us to act unlike ourselves causing harm to our well being and potential to those around us. The film The Boy and The Beast is a marvelous piece that brings this delicate struggle that we all face into focus. Through the beautiful animation and story that Mamoru Hosoda has crafted is something that is genuine and impacting.
Story: We are pushed into this world as quickly as our main character Kyuta is. With his life seemingly turned upside down with his mother’s passing and his father having been gone from his life shortly after his mother had divorced him. It is after the events of his mother’s passing and his subsequent run away that we find him clawing to life in the streets of Shibuya and it is here we manage to meet his interaction with Kumatetsu a beast who decides to take it upon himself to take the boy in as an apprentice on a whim. It is from this moment that Kyuta’s life changes for the best and we get to see his character’s growth as his sensei and him train to better themselves for different reasons altogether. One wishing to become the next lord and the other to find the strength to face their own demon.
While the story here is nothing new, the pitting of several characters against larger than life obstacles, but it is a story that is personal and touching. It has the scale and scope to reach out further than other tales have touched. Just being able to see these characters struggle and grow is something that does not disappoint in any way, shape or form. This is a story type that I could sit down to consistently and still pull away from it feeling satisfied and boy does this film manage to do that very well. The ending in particular is one of the more satisfying and emotionally delightful ending I have seen in an anime based film since Miyazaki’s The Wind Rises. The culmination of all lessons learned and the years of training that both Kyuta and Kumatetsu pays off and the power that the two can manifest when pushed to become one is just awe inspiring and frankly one of the best scenes that I have witnessed in any film or anime to date. Well done Mamoru Hosoda; well done.
What the story pulls strength from is the fight that we all face when our inner demons and monsters take hold and manifest within and outside of us. That lacking embodiment of our greed is replaced by a darkened figure with a void that consumes all where a heart of joy would normally be. This being in which forms in all humans is a danger to the realm of the beasts and it is ultimately a reason as to why us humans cannot ascend to godhood while the beasts may. This darkness is destructive and it corrupts us entirely if we allow it to. This struggle is conveyed to Kyuta via his human friend Kaede as she expresses her frustrations of only living a life to please her parents by having good grades and being a generally studios individual. This causes her much anger as she never fusses with her parents nor is she ever punished in anyway shape or form. She simply feels as if she exists to be stable for them and it leaves her wishing to live her own life and to be able to make her own mistakes. Kyuta’s manifested darkness is due to his anger towards his birth father for being so absent from his life after the divorce and for not being there with his mother’s passing. . This theme is one that I feel we all can pull something out of. We all have those evils in us pulling and tugging at our will to fight it off. If it wins we lash out against those closest to us in a moment of frustration and anger. This very darkness is harmful and consume anyone at a moment’s notice. It is the strength to understand and accept this darker half and to reconcile with it that takes strength to overcome it.
The Atmosphere and Sound: Much like any other anime I have to give precedence to the music and the film does justice to this quite well and has very memorable compositions that add to the overall experience and enjoyment of the movie as a whole. The opening number and the finale are both of my favorite bits from this movie. Tagaki Masakatsu works his excellence as this titles composer and it does tremendous justice when compared to earlier work from Wolf Children (Another amazing anime movie to enjoy by Mamoru Hosoda). The songs however have another powerful weapon that is able to help it manifest its emotion and that is the jaw-dropping landscapes and art that makes up the world of Jutengai and it is a world that I would give everything and anything to visit. Sweeping landscapes, beautifully aged ruins and a world that lives in harmony with everything and everyone in it. The composition was also added to YouTube free of charge which is just amazing in it’s own right!
On top of the phenomenal composition is also the stunning work by the English dubbing cast that just blew me away with their performances. Everything lines up perfectly and I never once felt like the dubbing was done in poor timing or was too bland for anyone scene. It all adds up into something beautiful and your ears are on the receiving end of this parade of sounds and delightful voice work. From talent such as John Swasey and Bryn Apprill it is no wonder why the English version of this film is so beloved and enjoyed by many. While it may not have a star studded cast as a dubbed Miyazaki film might have, this crew of phenomenal actors and actresses are so delightfully talented that I could not fathom any other version of a cast for this film.
The craftsmanship in regards to all this artwork is truly wonderful and I hold it up with high praise to something of the quality of a Miyazaki film. It is just so set in its place that it feels lived in, it feels used and old and that is what makes a world come to life. It is what helps us as fans of animation to appreciate it more so. We can see a world that is tangible and relatable while still managing to feel mystified by it and enthralled with its charm. The transitions and animations are all done in such a way that I had a hard time finding anyone scene that seemed too choppy to be passed for poor or lazy quality. I am quite happy with the attention to detail, minus one scene where Kyuta is shielding Kaede from and attack and her outfit changes instantly to something else. While hardly a derailing a issues, still a prevalent one nonetheless.
Is it worth a re-watch: The ultimate question that we come to ask ourselves these days is whether or not something is worth watching more and more or less and less.I would argue that while movies are items in which we may be more inclined to watch more than a 12 part anime season, The Boy and The Beast manages to stand tall as a film that is something everyone should watch again and again. It reminds us that we all face a fight with a darkness hiding within ourselves. Having to face it alone without the strength to face it would be utterly crushing and harmful. Having a film to remind us of the strength we gain from those in our lives, from those who have influenced us and those who continue to live on within us is powerful and is more than enough to get us up and watching this piece again.
Is this film for everyone out there? Maybe. It really depends on how much you can stand a tried and tested formula of hero has to fight inner demon of himself and foe to overcome all odds and stand successful over a lesser evil that would have consumed them. I can personally gobble these sort of themes up, but not everyone has the stomach that I do. If you do wish to watch it, please watch it for the incredibly emotional journey that you take alongside Kyuta and Kumatetsu and relish in pure bliss that is the title The Boy and The Beast. We reviewed this film based on the digital release for the Windows Store for Windows 8.1 and Windows 10 PC’s and compatible tablets.
OGZ Gives The Boy and The Beast a 10/10
- Strong animation
- Superb Voice work (English Dubbed Version)
- Emotionally engaging
- Awesome candidate for a re-watch
- Kid Friendly!