‘The Boy and the Beast’ a rich, brilliant coming-of-age anime film - Albuquerque Journal

‘The Boy and the Beast’ a rich, brilliant coming-of-age anime film

A scene from “The Boy and The Beast.”
A scene from “The Boy and The Beast.”

Japanese anime seems dominated by overstylized action flicks populated by squeaky-voiced kids whose ability to rain down death and destruction belies their babyish features.

Not so the work of Mamoru Hosoda. Best-known in America for “Summer Wars” (2009) and “Wolf Children” (2012), Hosoda crafts sublimely beautiful coming-of-age stories. The kids in his movies may start out petulant, irresponsible and selfish, but invariably, they grow up.

“The Boy and The Beast” tells the story of Ren, a 9-year-old runaway.
“The Boy and The Beast” tells the story of Ren, a 9-year-old runaway.

“The Boy and the Beast,” the director’s latest coming-of-age story, is a brilliant, funny morality tale that examines the transformative effects of martial arts training.

It tells the life story of Ren, a 9-year-old runaway so deeply wounded by the death of his mother that he has decided to hate humanity.

One day, he finds himself in an alleyway that leads to a city populated by strange, anthropomorphic “beasts,” as the English subtitles put it. (The Japanese word, “bakemono,” translates as “monster” or “goblin.”)

Hosoda upends the usual take on humans and monsters, making the beasts the more refined, moral beings. They revile humans as savage creatures.

“Humans are weaker,” one beast tells the human child, “and harbor darkness in their souls.”

Ren finds himself in the middle of a rivalry between two martial arts masters vying to become the next lord of the city. Iozen, the favorite, is a refined, skilled swordsman and beloved hero who has dozens of disciples.

Ren is drawn to the underdog Kumatetsu, an immature hothead who dominates opponents by brute force. An orphan who taught himself to fight, this master has no time for anyone else – and no followers. The current lord, a wily, rabbitlike guru, demands that Kumatetsu show he can train a single apprentice before he can fight Iozen for the title.

And so begins a long, rocky relationship between boy and warrior, full of comic banter. Equally stubborn, equally wounded by a hard life, and both full of rage, they butt heads again and again.

"The Boy and The Beast."
“The Boy and The Beast.”

“The Boy and the Beast” follows Ren’s progress for nearly a decade, eventually taking him back to the human world and back again to the world of the beasts as he battles the rage within.

Even with a running time of 119 minutes, “The Boy and the Beast” tries to do far too much. Its narrative range, rich themes, and moral depth would have been better broken into two or more films.

Still, it’s a fitting addition to Hosoda’s remarkable body of work.

Home » Entertainment » Movie Reviews » ‘The Boy and the Beast’ a rich, brilliant coming-of-age anime film


Albuquerque Journal and its reporters are committed to telling the stories of our community.

• Do you have a question you want someone to try to answer for you? Do you have a bright spot you want to share?
   We want to hear from you. Please email yourstory@abqjournal.com

taboola desktop

1
'Drag Race' star steps into Edna Turnbald's shoes in ...
Entertainment
'Hairspray' will begin its six-performance stand ... 'Hairspray' will begin its six-performance stand at Popejoy Hall beginning on Thursday, Oct. 6.
2
Festival poster artist Amado Peña's work an homage to ...
Arts
Rio Grande Arts & Crafts Festival: ... Rio Grande Arts & Crafts Festival: Balloon Fiesta Show runs from Thursday, Sept. 30, through Sunday, Oct. 2, and Oct. 6-9.
3
'Mystery Road: Origin' catches up with Jay Swan in ...
Entertainment
'Mystery Road: Origin' airs a new ... 'Mystery Road: Origin' airs a new episode each Monday through Oct. 10, on Acorn TV.
4
Singer-songwriter Jimmy Climbs is bringing 'neon rock' to Albuquerque's ...
Entertainment
Singer-songwriter to drop debut album next ... Singer-songwriter to drop debut album next week; release party is Saturday, Oct. 1 at Insideout
5
James McMurtry bringing tour to the Lobo Theater
Entertainment
James McMurtry will bring his latest ... James McMurtry will bring his latest tour to Albuquerque at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 6, at the Lobo Theater in Nob Hill.
6
SFiFF announces the first 15 featured titles for the ...
Blogs
The 14th edition of the Santa ... The 14th edition of the Santa Fe International Film Festival takes place Oct. 19-23, in Santa Fe.
7
Actor Timothy Granaderos drawn to psychological thriller's complexity, story
Entertainment
'Devil's Workshop,' starring Radha Mitchell, Timothy ... 'Devil's Workshop,' starring Radha Mitchell, Timothy Granaderos and Emile Hirsch, opens in theaters and on demand on Friday, Sept. 30.
8
Songwriter gigi finds a place for comfort with music, ...
Entertainment
Gigi finds herself in the opening ... Gigi finds herself in the opening slot for Cyrus' tour, which makes a stop in Albuquerque at the El Rey Theater at 8 p.m. ...
9
Shinedown brings honesty, revelation with 'Planet Zero' when society ...
Entertainment
Group to perform at Isleta Pavilion ... Group to perform at Isleta Pavilion on Oct. 5
10
Albuquerque Grecian Festival offers a taste of culture
Entertainment
Event runs Sept. 30 through Oct. ... Event runs Sept. 30 through Oct. 2 at the Saint George Greek Orthodox Church