The Boy And The Beast

If I looked at all of the anime films I have reviewed, the total number would be closer to 0 than to 10 I imagine, and that is sad. There are a lot of anime films, and I watch a lot of animated films. But I believe the only ones I have reviewed in the last 4-5 years have been the ones out of Studio Ghibli and that is it. Much like there are other black films made by people other than Tyler Perry, there are other anime films made by studios outside of Ghibli, and damn it, I need to start giving them a chance.

Or you know, say I will on this review and then wait a year before my next anime film. Whatever happens.

The only reason I knew about The Boy and the Beast was from seeing a trailer before some other movie and hey, this one looked interesting. The trailer didn’t really say much, but the visuals were cool, and of course then someone recommended it.

Boom, sold, let’s get this anime train rolling.

I am so excited to write this, that I didn’t even notice I was using a PROMO art picture.

Ren (Aoi Miyazaki, Shôta Sometani) is a 9 year old kid, whose mom has died with a dad out of the picture from a divorce years earlier. He is going to be sent to live with another family, but he wants to live with his dad, he wants his mom back, and he hates everything else. So he runs into the streets of the town to live on his own. While out there, a cloaked beast man, Kumatetsu (Kôji Yakusho) runs into him, mentioning needing a disciple, even if it just a weak human. Ren having nothing better to do, follows Kumatetsu and finds himself in another world where animals walk upright and talk and have personalities.

Now in this world, humans aren’t actually allowed due to the darkness that can be in their hearts. Ren finds out that no one actually likes Kumatetsu, a brash and arrogant fighter, but he is one of two fighters vying to be the next Grandmaster of the area. The other is Iozen (Kazuhiro Yamaji), someone loved by all, many disciples, and two kids, Ichirohiko (Haru Kuroki, Mamoru Miyano) and Jiromaru (Momoka Ono, Kappei Yamaguchi).

Now obviously Ren doesn’t want to be yelled at, but he feels bad for Kumatetsu for having no one on his side. So he agrees to be his disciple, to make himself a stronger person, to have a place to belong to.

And this story is not about a master and disciple coming close together, becoming strong, and doing the thing you think they will do. No, that is just the first hour. Then directions change, things get weird, and they stay weird.

Also featuring voice work from Suzu Hirose and Yô Ôizumi.

The only time in the movie where the boy’s mouth is bigger than the beast’s.

I will just go straight into it. Like I just said, only the first half follows the general plot line that I laid out. That is what I expected the whole movie to do. You know, to give me a classic Karate Kid like story, where the master and the disciple grow and learn together, and then they both achieve their dreams and do good and be good and fuck the bad guys.

But it is a lot more complicated than that. The plot never goes away, but more things start to happen that change the primary motives for some of our characters. As they age, their priorities change, and holy shit, they are like real people. I mean that in comparison to cartoon characters, not the fact that 90% of the cast are beast things.

Great, a story with character growth. But what else? Well, the animation is nice to look at. The fights are decent enough. And the comedy/drama is balanced.

Now again, things get a little bit weird near the end. The plot doesn’t get hard to follow, but the character actions do get a little bit muddled. Hell, Ichirohiko is a big part of this thing. If it was supposed to be a surprise what happened, then the surprise was bad. I also thought the character was a woman based on the voice actor as a kid and was very confused to see the deeper voice when they grew up.

The Boy and the Beast! Something different, that’s for sure.

3 out of 4.

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