I think it goes without saying that Mamoru Hosoda’s work is not only emotional but beautiful. Summer Wars and Wolf Children are two of my favorite animated films and for very different reasons. Summer Wars was the humorous fun slice of life type of film, while Wolf Children was the emotional tear jerker. So when word of Funimation bringing The Boy And The Beast to the US and in english came up we were very excited. This film promised to bring the best of both Summer Wars and Wolf Children into one film and at the end of the day, it delivered. The Boy And The Beast is an emotional rollercoaster that will have you screaming at your TV as you route for the underdog to win in a battle of wisdom and control.
As always, spoilers ahead so you have been warned, though we do our best to avoid spoiling the ending.
The latest feature film from award-winning Japanese director Mamoru Hosoda (Summer Wars, Wolf Children): When Kyuta, a young orphan living on the streets of Shibuya, stumbles into a fantastic world of beasts, he’s taken in by Kumatetsu, a gruff, rough-around-the-edges warrior beast who’s been searching for the perfect apprentice.
Despite their constant bickering, Kyuta and Kumatetsu begin training together and slowly form a bond as surrogate father and son. But when a deep darkness threatens to throw the human and beast worlds into chaos, the strong bond between this unlikely pair will be put to the ultimate test—a final showdown that will only be won if the two can finally work together using all of their combined strength and courage.
Kyuta, as Kumatetsu names him, is a strong-minded and determined young boy who has no desire to live with family he doesn’t know, questioning where his father is. After running away he finds himself following a ‘beast’ into the world of beasts and soon decides to live with and be trained by Kumatetsu after watching him lose a very public fight. Kyuta and Kumatetsu are a lot alike but also very different. That distinct dynamic was one of the best things about this film. Kyuta feels like he can relate to Kumatetsu who is apparently disliked by everyone, and wants to learn about fighting from his as he is clearly strong. However Kumatetsu soon learns that Kyuta has something to teach him as well.
Hosoda does a brilliant job of planting little seeds of future events throughout the movie starting from the first moment we see Kyuta running away angry at the world. That moment with his shadow comes full circle by the end of the film. One of the themes of this film is that humans can harbor darkness in them and be consumed by it. While beasts can reincarnate and become gods, something humans cannot do.
Much like Hosoda’s Summer Wars, The Boy And The Beast comes with some great comedy moments between the main characters as they fight over eating raw eggs and who does the dishes after dinner. But the cutest and funniest moment was when Kyuta starts to imitate Kumatetsu move for move, as you can see below.
After years of training, its nearing time for the current lord to reincarnate and a new lord to take his place. Kumatetsu must fight against another to win that title but the battle is not so easy. The climax of all the events leads up to the battle between Kyuta and Ichirōhiko. What we learn about Ichirōhiko puts a whole different spin on the entire story and the key differences in how Kyuta and Ichirōhiko were raised.
I will admit that during that final battle, the moment when ‘The Sword In Your Soul’ finally made sense, I lost it. It was a very emotional scene that just brought up all the feelings you had during the film. Ill leave it at that so as not to spoil the film any further. I highly recommend this film not just to those who admire and enjoy Mamoru Hosoda’s work but also to those who love great and emotional stories like Summer Wars and Wolf Children.
The film releases on DVD and Blu-Ray June 7th. Preorder your copy on Amazon.com now. Did you get to see this film when it was in theaters? If so, let us know what you thought and what your favorite moments were from the film.