The Boy And The Beast – Otaku Review
The times they are a changing and so is Otaku Digest, usually we would only bring you the newest of anime series per season but now we are shaking things up a bit. While we will continue to bring all that is new on the current airing season we are not tied down to just those series. We will now be looking at sequel series, anime film releases, OVA’s and maybe even some retro must see!
To kick off the new Otaku Reviews we are taking a look one of the biggest and most anticipated anime films to be released in recent years, The Boy and the Beast. Studio Ghibli has dominated the anime film industry especially in the West releasing masterpiece after masterpiece. They are usually helmed by Hayao Miyazaki but every once in a while an underdog swoops in and takes fans by storm.
The Boy and the Beast was written and directed by anime alumni Mamoru Hosoda who any anime fan will recognise as the man behind the first two films of the Digimon Adventures series as well as his more notable titles The Girl Who Leapt Through Time and Summer Wars. The film was also produced by Hosoda’s own production company Chizu, the film opened in Japanese cinemas on July 11th 2015.
Losing a parent is difficult enough but for nine-year-old Ren it feels like his world is falling apart. His mother has passed away, he has not seen or heard from his father since they divorced. Now he is forced to go and live with his mother’s family who treat him more like a burden irregardless of the fact he is to be the head of the family someday. Ren chooses there and then to run and he wanders the streets of Shibuya with a heart filled with hate for humanity. He roams the city alone attempting to go unnoticed as a runaway by the authorities and befriends a little mouse he names Chiko with whom he shares some of his stolen food.
While Ren battles his life in Shibuya there is a Beast Kingdom where the lord and master has made the decision to take his right to reincarnate as a god thus naming two possible successors who must prove their worth to take his title; the fan favourite Iôzen and the powerful but lazy Kumatetsu. The master suggests that Kumatetsutake on a disciple to train as his rival already has two children.
The unlikely pair meets as Kumatetsu wanders the streets of the Tokyo. When he happens upon Ren he asks if he wants to be his disciple. Ren angrily declines but curiosity leads him to follow this strange figure back to the Beast Kingdom. Ren winds up becoming Kumatetsu’s disciple and is dubbed Kyûta, the two clash and fight like a pair of beasts but as the time goes on they work together to improve one another.
The Boy and the Beast is a visual masterpiece that appeals to a range of audiences. The film is beautiful with a vibrant ethnic feel of the Beast Kingdom contrasted with the bland but modern feel of Tokyo.
Ren/Kyûta’s character helps tell a classic coming of age story where we literally see him grow from young boy to a young man.While his story shows him running from his troubles in the human world he learns a different way of life in the beast kingdom where he has a family even if they fight like animals. His main struggle comes in his battle with the darkness in himself that always threatens to consume him.
Kumatetsu on the other hand has led a lonely existence where he has taught himself all he knows so when taking on Kyûta as a disciple it is the young boy who teaches the beast a new way. They each have voids in their lives that the other fills even without knowing it.
All Of The Feels!
In a less critical sense this film moved me. The entire film flowed flawlessly and even when there were moments particularly in the human world where the narrative felt clustered and confused it actually made sense. That is reality. Who really knows what is going on? The Beast Kingdom was magical and seemed so perfect. In a way comfortable where the human world when Ren eventually returns to it is hectic and chaotic, just like in real life.
A film does not often stand out to me in the way this film did. It is hard to place why in so many words but on a personal level it was easy to relate to Ren and his situation. As a child of divorce it is easy to see where a rift and void can appear in one’s own life between a loved one. Leading it to be difficult to trust and let someone come in close to you.
Knowing this it was easy to put a personal story in connection to the film. Though this a fantasy based coming of age story we can all relate to an any aspect of the story whether it be meeting a significant other, a close friend or like in the film creating a new or reconnecting with an old family unit that void can be filled leaving only some bad memories of it in its wake.
The Boy and the Beast is a heart-warming coming of age story that will warm the hearts of viewers of all ages. Highly recommended and a must see for any anime fan.