Anime Review: The Boy and the Beast

The Boy and the Beast cover

Well, this is kind of surprising.

I was planning to get working this week on the story I shared some excerpts from a while back, but I was feeling a bit under the weather, and some Blu Rays that I recently ordered from Rightstuf arrived.

Today, I will be reviewing one of those titles, which is called The Boy and the Beast.

Kyuta, an ordinary boy living in Shibuya, has been experiencing rough times because of the recent death of his mother and has no idea where his father ran off to after his mother divorced him, so he is forced to live with relatives.

Not satisfied with what he is being put through, Kyuta runs away and meets a lonesome beast, named Kumatetsu, who decides to take the boy under his wing, and the two go on a journey of discovery.

Ruler of Beast Realm

After hearing a lot of people sing praises for the work of Mamoru Hosoda, I kind of wanted to check out his new movie to see if he could live up to the hype.

After checking it out, I can only say that I kind of liked it.

I really liked how I was pulled right into the movie, at least in the beginning portion, to the point where I did not want to pause for any reason, even though I have not fully recovered from what had been plaguing me for much of the week.

As an avid reader and anime fan, I cannot really seem to enjoy myself unless I can become immersed in the world and the story, and, for the portion that did have my interest, Mamoru Hosoda really succeeded in delivering that.

After all, I doubt that anybody would want to sit through something that takes as much time to become interesting, much like my disgust of The Book Thief arose because it took hundreds of pages to catch my interest.

As a result, I feel like giving Mamoru a bit of applause, though not as much as I would give Himoru Arakawa and Jun Mochizuki for their work.

I also liked how liked how everything appeared to be alive.

While not every character actually felt like a real individual, I liked how there was movement everywhere, and in more than just the main cast.

In a lot of anime I have seen, there does not really seem to be too much traffic because we can always see the characters and what they are doing and crowd appear to be nothing more than still images.

However, in this movie, other characters seem to pass by my view, which makes in really seem like I am in a crowd people, especially because they seem to be doing their own thing.

This seems to be getting pretty close into the kind of work that Disney has produced when I was young, and it is easy to see how influential Disney has been on Japan's animation industry.

If anime were more like this, people would not be frowning about how disappointing simplistic the animation style of anime is, especially because one person I know hates how mouths in anime do not move as realistically as the cartoons shown where I live.

Unfortunately, I do not really think that things are going to change too much in this department, because presenting a cohesive story is much more important to me than having animation look completely realistic, and I am just fine with that.

Besides, realistic mouth movement would bother me when watching things dubbed, and is a reason that I never like watching any live action movies from Asia dubbed, other than how the heart attacks in the live action Death Note movies seemed fake.

I also liked how Kyuta and Kumatetsu grew during the course of the movie.

Both of them seemed to have their own problems and when Kyuta starts his training under Kumatetsu, they start learning from each other, such as Kumatetsu learning to read his opponents, which made his attacks more precise, and Kyuta learned swordsmanship and unarmed combat, which helped him to stand on his own two feet.

Not only did they grow in combat ability, but both of them seemed to either become more likable by others or started to see that they were more complete together than apart.

Protagonists are supposed to grow along the course of a journey, and Mamoru really did this kind of well, though not as well as I would have liked to, which makes me want to give him a bit of a thumbs.

If he can do even better in the next work, I have no doubt that he might be able to gain the kind of reputation that Miyazaki has, though Miyazaki may be a disappointment too, since I am less familiar with his work than I am with Hiromu Arakawa and Jun Mochizuki.

Another nice thing was how there were a few funny scenes present.

Even though this movie did not have me laughing as much as much Barakamon, D-Frag!, or Baka & Test, I did find myself in the mood a chuckle a few times.

For example, when Kyuta started training under Kumatetsu, Kyuta was failing to catch on to the basics of swinging because Kumatetsu was not explaining things well or going at a pace slow enough to see what is being done.

Everyone starts from scratch, but seeing how frustrated the two of them got, I kind of wanted to laugh because of their incompetence.

Then again, I tend to get as frustrated as Kumatetsu when I try to teach people things, so I guess I cannot say that I would be a better teacher than him.

The thing that I liked the most though was how the movie explored overcoming our own darkness.

In the beginning, before Kyuta met Kumatetsu, he lets out his anger and a shadow form of him appears, making me wonder if this will be the main enemy of the movie.

Later on, Kyuta finds out that somebody in his new home has that same darkness and is determined to find a way to bring him back.

We each have some darkness in us created either because of our greed, or, in the case of Sensui from Yu Yu Hakusho, we find out that what we believe is not necessarily the truth, and we can only continue living our lives by finding a way to make peace with that darkness, or even overcome it, and with the help of so many people, he does not only overcomes his darkness, but even neutralizes his friend's darkness too.

While this may not have been the best story involving overcoming darkness, it at least did show that darkness does reside within us all, and I do feel like giving Mamoru a small round of applause.

Outside of those things, I cannot think of anything else that I particularly liked about the movie, aside from a scene that seemed reminiscent of Kenshin's Amakakeru Ryu no Hirameki.

Because the I was pulled into most of the movie rather quickly and the characters did seem to grow, as well as the fact that things seemed to be a bit more lively than most other anime I have seen and did a good job of showing characters overcoming darkness, this was a fairly decent movie.

Kumatetsu

Although I did like the movie, there are some issues.

However, aside from things that too minor to talk about, there was only one major problem, which hurt it in many ways.

This movie had no cohesive story anywhere.

While my elders and a few of my peers do not like my interest in anime too much, even if they are more accepting of it, I tend to pay attention more to anime because those shows tend to have an overall story more often than the kinds of shows found where I live, though it does seem to be changing a bit.

Unfortunately, in my time following anime, I have come across a few series that were hard to follow because it was either trying to tell two stories at the same time that had too connecting details, such as ef — A Tale of Memories, or it is hard to follow because it had more than one story, with one story starting after the completion of the other, yet not feeling completely whole, like in the case of A Lull in the Sea.

However, a lot of those shows were not completely impossible to follow along with, as I was able to feel the turmoil that the characters were going through, which did make things relatively enjoyable.

This movie, on the other hand, does not seem to make up its mind about whether it wants to be a story of the bond that Kyuta and Kumatetsu nurture while trying to find a place where they belong, a story of Kyuta readjusting to life as a human after living among the beasts, or dealing with one's own darkness.

This lack of focus really made it hard for me to feel anything for what the characters through and did not help me feel the strong bond that Kyuta and Kumatetsu are supposed to have as they face challenges together.

Seeing as this movie was written and directed by Mamoru Hosoda, according to a review by Neil Lumbard on DVD Talk, Mamoru should ashamed of what he has delivered.

He has been in the animated film industry for quite for some time and he should realize what he does best, which direct the film, since he has only been in the directors seat for his other well-known works, such as The Girl Who Leapt Through Time.

Yes, Mamoru is not new to writing for a film, since IMDB does list him as a screenplay writer for Wolf Children, but that does not change the fact that the lack of focus found in this movie makes me want to avoid all of Mamoru's work, even regretting that I bought this, seeing as FUNimation does not have it available for streaming at the time that I wrote this review.

Movies and writing may be two different mediums to tell a story, but what is presented must have some kind of focus and this one did not have that at all.

Honestly! How can Mamoru Hosoda be such a big name in anime if this is what he delivers?

The only way that this movie could have been saved is if it focused solely on the bond between Kyuta and Kumatetsu, because it felt like the most interesting aspect of the movie, and I probably would have been able to feel for the characters more.

Hopefully, Mamoru can learn from his mistakes in this movie, but I am probably going to avoid anything else that he makes, because I am not really seeing that he has too much potential.

While this movie had only one major problem, that problem created numerous other problems to the point where this movie does not even register as anything as remarkable as the best books I read or anime I saw.

Despite the fact that there were a few things to like, the negatives outweigh the good enough to the point where this was just a waste of time.

I only recommend this to fans of Mamoru Hosoda, though even they might be displeased, depending on how good his other movies were.

As for everyone else, you will not be missing anything if you choose not to see this, and I strongly recommend avoiding this like the plague if you want something with a great story.

What are your thoughts on The Boy and the Beast? Did you like it or hate it? If you either hated it or found it okay, were you as annoyed as I was that movie seemed to lack any focus? Was there something that you liked or hated that went unmentioned? Feel free to comment.

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Copyright © 2015 Bryce Campbell. All Rights Reserved.