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[The Boy and the Beast]
AKA: バケモノの子 (Wiki says the Japanese title is literally "The Bakemono's Child", and defines "bakemono" as a yokai or shapeshifter.)
Genre: Fantasy/Comedy
Length: Movie, 120 minutes
Distributor: Currently licensed by GKids, available streaming on Crunchyroll.
Content Rating: PG-13 (Violence, mature situations.)
Related Series: N/A
Also Recommended: Belle; Ni no Kuni
Notes: Written and directed by Mamoru Hosoda

I saw this one in the English dub

The Boy and the Beast


Ren is a runaway who, out of curiosity, follows someone who offers to take him in as an "apprentice". He finds himself in the Kingdom of Kutengai, the inhabitants of which are all (anthropomorphized) animals. The individual who made the offer to him is a beast named Kumatetsu, a cantankerous sort who doesn't really get along well with either humans or his fellow Beasts.


I ended up liking this more than I expected. I expected Rin to somehow use his human cunning to achieve status over the beasts of Kutengai, as Mowgli did in Kipling's The Jungle Book. And indeed the film, in the end, did remind me of Jungle Book- but mostly from the FINAL chapter of Mowgli's story, where he has to choose whether to live with the beasts, or with the humans. In Kipling's story, the beasts were finally nudging Mowgli toward his "own" kind, but I won't say what decision Ren (or, as Kumatetsu named him, "Kyuta") finally made.

He really wasn't welcome in Kutengai in the first place, though; NO human was. In the beasts' kingdom, even in the battle to become Ruler, the combatants may carry swords, but are forbidden to unsheath them; while humans are viewed as too unrestrained, given to succumbing to blind rage. (From my old days in anthropology class, I remember the idea that, while other creatures can turn off aggression by submission, humans don't have such an "Off" switch.) Kumatetsu's seeking a human apprentice is an apparent act of desperation (or defiance); all the other beasts favor his opponent for the kingship (named Iozen), and regard Kumatetsu as an annoying upstart. He is in fact undisciplined and a slob; and one of the key plot points of the movie is the synergy that takes place between boy and beast (granted, with plenty of rough patches): Kumatetsu may be teaching Ren/Kyuta to fight, but the boy, in HIS turn, is making Kumatetsu, for once in his life, have to learn responsibility.

How he managed to do it so often, and for such a length of time, I have no idea, but Ren/Kyuta does slip back into the human world even while supposedly under Kumatetsu's scrutiny, and, of course, meets a girl (named Kaede) who becomes a powerful draw back toward the world of humans- she even helps him make up for time he'd lost in basic scholastic pursuits like reading. (Note: Moby Dick is not really the ideal novel to start a weak reader with, but the movie's plot needs to use this literary choice elsewhere, so Melville it is.)

A few other Kutengai denizens get a fair amount of screentime. Among these are: Hyakushubo, a porcine monk (and usually one of the more placid characters); Tatara, Kumatetsu's simian sidekick (who's the greatest skeptic about the whole idea of a human apprentice); and the current ruler of Kutengai, a wise (and rather laid back) rabbit who's looking forward to being reincarnated. (Reincarnation is an important plot point for Kutengai's beasts, as is the fact that they apparently get to choose the form they come back in.)

Of course, Ren/Kyuta has to fight a major battle with a formidable opponent before the end- and in classic Mamoru Hosoda fashion, it's one brought in from left field. Still, if you're looking for some shonen action (without the "decorum" the beasts of Kutengai observe) then patience, little one, you will have it.

I can kind of see why this is one of Mamoru Hosoda's more obscure efforts: possibly others also didn't think the premise sounded all that great, there are numerous plot holes (and some plot contrivances), and the story veers in unexpected directions later- though come to think of it, the latter is EXACTLY what most Mamoru Hosoda movies DO. As noted earlier, I had to watch the dub version, though the dub voices mostly seem well-chosen. But I enjoyed the side characters, and generally had a good time with it. Allen Moody

Recommended Audience: FUNimation rates PG-13. There's violence, despite the beasts' best efforts.

Version(s) Viewed: Crunchyroll video stream
Review Status: Full (1/1)
The Boy and the Beast © 2015 The Boy and the Beast Film Partners
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