Dear Japanese anime fans,
Yesterday night I went to see The Boy and the Beast at the cinema and I don’t regret my choice. I was disappointed when Miyazaki announced his retirement but thankfully there is Mamoru Hosoda to take the helm! Here is my review of this beautiful tale of initiation, enjoy!
The Boy and the Beast is a Japanese animated movie directed by Mamoru Hosoda and produced by Studio Chizu and Nippon TV. The film distributed by Gaumont company outside Asia was released in France on January 13, 2015.
What’s the story? Shibuya represents the human world and Jutengai is the world of beasts. This is the story of a lonely boy and a beast alone living apart in two separate worlds. One day, Ren, 9 years old, gets lost in the world of beasts and becomes the disciple of the Beast Kumatetsu who decides to call him Kyuta. This accidental meeting is the beginning of an adventure that goes beyond the imagination…
Japanese animated movies are known for their beautiful images, their magical and poetic side, their subtle metaphors, and The Boy and the Beast is no exception to the rule.
Mamoru Hosoda has a unique talent for humanizing his beasts and we quickly attach ourselves to the dynamic trio formed by the gruff bear, mocking monkey and wise pig. The beasts of Jutengai are incrediblely humanized: they wear clothes, stand on their feet, have houses, a job, do their shopping at the market, master martial arts and are sometimes even more charitable than humans, not to mention that they have a higher sense of justice.
The film also shows us that the human heart is easily corruptible and that humans are in fact the ones who have a beast that sleeps in them. The metaphor of the vacuum inside the heart and darkness aspiring humans is perfectly chosen.
The Boy and the Beast is a timeless story. Shibuya embodies the modernity of the city of Tokyo whereas Jutengai uses the codes of medieval and traditional society. The duality between these two different worlds which are connected despite everything, is very interesting. Ren/Kyuta no longer knows who he is and the fact of constantly moving from one world to another increases the distress of his quest for identity.
Even if the story is timeless, the developed themes are still current: loneliness, the feeling of being rejected by society, the lack of family love, the search for a surrogate family, training to become stronger, repair of broken affective bonds, morale and friendly support, transition to adulthood, the battle against your inner demons, forgiveness and redemption. All this is wonderfully illustrated through this magnificent animated movie.
Laughter, emotion and magic are awaiting you. Go see The Boy and the Beast, it will take you on a wonderful initiatory trip!
Have a nice weekend 🙂