The Boy and the Beast (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)
July 17, 2016 by Dennis Amith
Mamoru Hosoda has once again created a delightful and entertaining film that is destined to become another classic! Great storyline, gorgeous art and animation and wonderful performance by both Japanese and English voice talent, “The Boy and the Beast” is highly recommended!
Image courtesy of © 2015 The Boy and the Beast Film Partners. All Rights Reserved.
TITLE: The Boy and the Beast
DURATION: 119 Minutes
BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (16:9 Anamorphic Widescreen), English and Japanese Dolby TrueHD 5.1, Subtitles: English
Release Date: June 7, 2016
Directed by Mamoru Hosoda
Script by Mamoru Hosoda
Original Story by Mamoru Hosoda
Producers: Takashi Watanabe, Yuichiro Saito
Character Designs by Daisuke Iga, Mamoru Hosoda, Takaaki Yamashita
Art Direction by Takashi Omori, Yohei Takamatsu, Youichi Nishikawa
Art Design by Anri Jojo
Music by Masakatsu Takagi
Anime Production: Studio Chizu
Featuring the following voice talent:
Aoi Miyazaki/Luci Christian as Kyuta (Young)
Kōji Yakusho/John Swasey as Kumatetsu
Shōta Sometani/Eric Vale as Kyuta (Teen)
Haru Kuroki/Morgan Berry as Ichirohiko (Young)
Kappei Yamaguchi/Austin Tindle as Jiromaru (Older)
Kazuhiro Yamaji/Sean Hennigan as Iozan
Lily Franky/Alex Organ as Hyakushūbō
Mamoru Miyano/Austin Tindle as Ichirohiko (Older)
Masahiko Tsugawa/Steve Powell as Grand Master
Momoka Ono/Brittney Karbowski as Jiromaru (Young)
Sumire Morohoshi/Monica Rial as Chiko
Suzu Hirose/Bryn Apprill as Kaede
Yo Oizumi/Ian Sinclair as Tatara
The Boy and the Beast is 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. Can the two finally work together using all of their combined strength and courage? Don’t miss the critically acclaimed film The Boy and The Beast!
It was the animated film that would take Japan by storm.
In 2015, the animated film “Bakemono no Ko” (The Boy and the Beast) which was written and directed by Mamoru Hosoda (“Summer Wars”, “Wolf Children”, “The Girl Who Leapt Through Time”) and produced by Studio Chizu, would go on to earn over $48 million in the box office. And would be released in the the theaters in the US in March 2016.
And now, “The Boy and the Beast” will be released on Blu-ray and DVD courtesy of FUNimation.
The film revolves around a homeless nine-year-old named Ren.
Ren’s parents are divorced and he has not seen his father, while his mother has passed away.
Refusing to live with his legal guardians, Ren has been living in the streets of Shibuya. Stealing food and sleeping the alley ways, he thinks about the moments in his life after his mother died.
Meanwhile, in the Beast Kingdom known as Jutengai, the lord has announced that he will retire in order to reincarnate as a deity and is looking for two successors. It would be either the popular Iozen, father of two kids or the powerful but lazy Kumatetsu. But the Grandmaster suggests to Kumatetsu that he needs to find an apprentice/disciple in order to succeed him.
Back in Shiibuya, as Ren is trying to survive and avoid the police (who want to send him back to his legal guardians), one day, two hooded figures approach Ren and it happens to be Kumatetsu and his companion, Tatara. Tatara jokes around that Kumatetsu should take a human to become his apprentice.
Ren is shocked to see that the individuals are not human and Kumatetsu asks Ren if he is willing to become his apprentice. While not willing, Ren still follows Kumatetsu and he finds himself in the Beast Kingdom and unable to go back home.
Ren is taken by Hyakushubo, an apprentice monk and finds Ren and worries that he accidentally came into the Beast World. But Kumatetsu shows up and tells Hyakushubo that Ren is his new assistant, shocking both Hyakushubo and Tatara, because no one brings a human into their world, let alone take him as an apprentice. And Kumatetsu allows Ren to stay at his place.
One day, a battle begins between Iozen and Kumatetsu and Ren sees how everyone is supporting Iozen and Kumatetsu is alone. Feeling the same as Kumatetsu, Ren cheers for him, despite Kumatetsu losing in the battle. But because the actual duel of succession has not been officially announced, the battle does not count.
Ren takes in Ren, but because Ren won’t give out his real name, Kumatetsu names the boy, Kyuta.
Ren and Kumatetsu are like oil and water, they often argue and do not get along. But in truth, both are very similar. They grew up without parents, they grew up alone and both can understand each other’s pain.
But when the kids from the Beast Kingdom start teasing Kyuta as being weak, Ren decides to follow Kumatetsu’s lead and train together.
Fastforward eight years later and Kyuta has become a wonderful assistant for Kumatetsu and because Kyuta has become stronger, many people want to be trained by Kumatetsu.
But one day, while walking in the Beast Kingdom, Ren finds a way to go back to the human world. How will life change for him?
And with the big battle between Kumatetsu and Iozen coming soon, who will be the next successor for Jutengai?
“The Boy and the Beast” is presented in 1080p High Definiton (16:9 anamorphic widescreen). The animation features designs that are helped by the talented character designers Daisuke Iga, Takaaki Yamashita and of course, Mamoru Hosoda. The beautiful, lush backgrounds courtesy of the art direction by Takashi Omoro, Yohei Takamatsu and Youichi Nishikawa. And with Studio Chizu responsible for the animation production, I was very impressed with the overall look of the film. Gorgeous!
I was struck by how detailed the background art was. How beautiful these painted backgrounds looked and how it complimented the characters. Also, how vibrant colors were, from the blue skies, to the sun going down with the reddish purple haze over the horizon. Even small details such as flies flying around the light and picture quality is amazing!
AUDIO & SUBTITLES:
“The Boy and the Beast” is presented in English and Japanese Dolby TrueHD 5.1. As for the lossless audio, both Japanese and English soundtrack produced the same results when I was testing scenes. Action sequences utilized the surround channels very well and the voice acting for both soundtracks are fantastic.
“The Boy and the Beast” contains the following special features:
- Original Teaser
- Japanese Trailer #1 and #2
- U.S. Trailer
“The Boy and the Beast” comes with a slipcover and both the Blu-ray + DVD discs of the film. The Blu-ray also comes with an UltraViolet code for those wanting to watch the film on their PC/Mac, tablet or cell phone via Digital HD.
I think that enough years have passed that I can easily say that whenever there is a film that Mamoru Hosoda is part of, especially in a writing and directing capacity, it’s no doubt something special.
You usually see the high expectations of an animated film when it is Studio Ghibli or Makoto Shinkai related but I can easily say that Mamoru Hosoda has earned it with a string of successful films from “The Girl Who Leapt Through Time”, “Summer Wars” and “Wolf Children”, the same can be said about “The Boy and the Beast”.
From a wonderful, captivating story and gorgeous animation and background art, Mamoru Hosoda has no doubt achieve the respect of viewers that his films are successful in Japan.
And with “The Boy and the Beast”, it’s an inspirational tale about a runaway 9-year-old, living on the streets and is given a chance to become an apprentice for the strong, lazy and loud Kumatetsu.
Both have a similar upbringing, brought up alone and no one to be there for them. But now these two lonely souls have each other, and as much as they are different and are often screaming and arguing at each other, both know that they need each other. And despite not being human, Kumatetsu is more like a father to Ren (Kyuta).
And their friendship or relationship is no doubt put to the test as Kumatetsu is training for a major battle to become the next lord, Ren finds a way to go back into the human world and discover that his real father is alive but also a twist that leads to a chaotic ending that I never saw coming.
It’s no doubt a wonderful and delightful film that I was quite impressed with its characters and touching storyline. Granted, the conflicts and characters are not as intricate if compared to Miyazaki film, but nevertheless, I do believe that Mamoru Hosoda manages to capture something magical with “The Boy and the Beast”.
And as the Blu-ray release, the animation for “The Boy and the Beast” is fantastic. The background art is very detailed and looks gorgeous, while animation as well as character design is on par with other Mamoru Hosoda works. As for the lossless audio, both soundtracks are fantastic. Action sequences and crowd ambiance utilizes the surround channels effectively and there is also good use of LFE.
As for special features, there aren’t that many aside from the original teaser and Japanese and U.S. trailers. The Blu-ray does include an UltraViolet code, which you can watch the film on your PC/Mac, Tablet or phone (as long as you can access Vudu).
As for the PG-13 rating, it’s because there is violence. Actually towards the final half hour of the film, the violence escalates and one of the primary protagonists gets injured badly. So, this film is surely not appropriate for young children.
Overall, Mamoru Hosoda has once again created a delightful and entertaining film that is destined to become another classic! Great storyline, gorgeous art and animation and wonderful performance by both Japanese and English voice talent, “The Boy and the Beast” is highly recommended!
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