FUNimation not long ago released Dragon Ball Resurrection F in theaters for a limited time, which had many fans running out to see it. FUNimation has been doing very well by bringing fan favorites to movie theaters since that time.
Fast forward to 2016 and FUNimation is at it again with the movie The Boy and the Beast. How does the movie fare with the upcoming theatrical release?
With the English Dub coming to select theaters March 4th, 2016, I’ve had the chance to see an early screening of both the Japanese version that was subbed and of course the English Dubbed. While some locations will grant you the choice of the English Dub, others will have access to only the original version with English Subs. The Boy and the Beast is created by Mamoru Hosoda, which many may know for his work on the award-winning “Wolf Children” and “Summer Wars”. While I’ve had the chance to see his work on Wolf Children, a movie such as The Boy and the Beast really did catch my eye from the moment I saw the trailer.
What is The Boy and the Beast about? The Boy and the Beast is a Japanese animated film that follows a nine year old named Ren who recently lost his mother while both his parents were going through a divorce. Young Ren refuses to go live with his legal guardians and decides to run away–an understandable choice considering the events of his childhood. Unbeknownst to him, there is another world within our own called the Beast Kingdom.
What is the Beast Kingdom? It is a world within our own where beasts live, of course. We are introduced to this world just as the lord of the land announces that he’s going to retire and reincarnate as a god. While we humans can’t reincarnate at all, the beasts within this world have the chance only if they happen to be a Lord. Of course with any land where there may be noble reign, a successor must be found before the reincarnation can take place. This is where we meet Kumatetsu–one of our main characters who will take care of and raise Ren and Iôzen, whom he must battle when the Lord decides to reincarnate. While I’d like to continue talking about the storyline, I don’t want to spoil it for those waiting to see the movie in theaters.
The adventure itself between Kumatetsu and Ren is quite interesting and will have the audience drawn in with each heartfelt moment. These range from fights between the two while Kumatetsu is raising Ren, Ren’s training, and his decision regarding his life path. With any movie on the subject of growing up, there are some hard life choices to be made and many of the characters learn that it’s not easy to become the best.
This film definitely follows the typical hero’s journey. We start with a young boy who has been orphaned after an undesirable childhood, and follow him as he learns who he wants to become. While he’s being taught “practical” skills and being raised by an unlikely guardian, he manages to give his mentor some life lessons along the way. In the end, both the teacher and the student learn the value of believing in oneself, but being open to learning from others as well.
The art style of the movie is rich and vibrant. While I’ve watched a lot of anime over the years, the artistic value truly reflects the story and the visual message the director was aiming for. As you can see from the screenshots throughout this review so far it’s colorful and crisp. The animators’ understanding of the plot comes through without any over-the-top effects to get in the way.
The movie easily held my attention from beginning to end. I’ve had some movies and shows in the past catch my eye at first, then lose their appeal after a short time. With companies trying their best to share unique ideas, The Boy and the Beast provides some things to think about on top of feeling for each character.
I felt like the film itself teaches you to be yourself and not to let self-pity get in the way of living. If you want to go after something go after it and don’t let others hold you back. Also don’t treat others like poorly to make yourself feel important. Within The Boy and the Beast, Kumatetsu acted as if he was superior to Ren, but in the end, he learned that there is more to life than one’s own self-importance.
Overall, The Boy and the Beast left an undeniably good feeling when the credits rolled. Both the voice acting and the story itself kept me interested from start to end. If I had to simply use one word to describe the movie it would be “inspiring.” If you’re looking for a movie with a positive message to watch with the family, this would be the perfect selection.
(An advanced screening of the movie was provided by FUNimation Entertainment for review purposes. For more information on FUNimation please click here.)