Fantastic Fest 2015 Review: THE BOY AND THE BEAST, Hosoda Mamoru's Best Film To Date
If The Boy And The Beast doesn't cast away any doubts that Hosoda Mamoru will become the new king of Japanese animation, I don't know what will.
Ever since Miyazaki Hayao stopped making feature films, the world has been eagerly waiting to see who will assume the throne, and Hosoda has always been a strong contender. Since his breakout hit The Girl Who Leapt Through Time (2006), every one of his films has achieved greater commercial success and critical acclaim than its predecessors. But with The Boy And The Beast, Hosoda has managed to reach new heights yet again and deliver his best film to date.
The story (scripted by Hosoda himself) is about a young boy called Ren who accidentally enters Jutengai, a place populated by beasts. There, he adopts the name "Kyuta" and becomes the apprentice of Kumatetsu, one of two candidates to become the next lord after the current lord announces his plans to become reincarnated as a god.
The pair's relationship forms the backbone of the story, and it changes from master-and-apprentice to father-and-son before they finally become peers and comrades. As expected, Ren / Kyuta eventually has to choose between the human world and the land of the beasts; and when the two worlds collide, the result is nothing short of spectacular.
The Boy And The Beast is gorgeous to look at; the backgrounds are detailed and the characters are full of life. The voice cast, which include Yakusho Koji, Miyazaki Aoi, Sometani Shota and Hirose Suzu, do a stellar job, with Yakusho outstanding as Kumatetsu. There are quite a lot of action scenes and the battles are epic in scale.
With all these wonderful qualities, the film once again proves that Hosoda Mamoru is both a master animator and amazing storyteller. Fans of his previous films will enjoy it a lot because it is as charming as The Girl Who Leapt Through Time, as exhilarating as Summer Wars and as touching as Wolf Children. In fact, its appeal is so broad that its commercial and critical successes are pretty much guaranteed.
Having earned more than 5 billion yen (US$42 million) at the local box office, the film now stands as the highest grossing film for Hosoda. He has won the Animation of the Year of the Japan Academy Prize for every one of his last three films: The Girl Who Leapt Through Time in 2007, Summer Wars in 2010 and Wolf Children in 2013, and he will very likely be taking home yet another animation prize for The Boy And The Beast at next year's award ceremony. Right now, it certainly seems like the sky's the limit for this remarkably gifted filmmaker and his Studio Chizu animation house.
The Boy and the Beast
- Mamoru Hosoda
- Mamoru Hosoda
- Bryn Apprill
- Kumiko Asô
- Morgan Berry
- Jessica Cavanagh