This is one anime epic you are going to want to see in theaters again and again.
Written and directed by Mamoru Hosoda, whose credits include key animation for Dragon Ball Z, Sailor Moon, YuYu Hakusho, and directorial credits for One Piece: Baron Omatsuri and the Secret Island (2005) and Wolf Children (2012), The Boy and the Beast is an epic story following one boy’s journey in understanding his place among two separated societies. From the Kingdom of the Beasts to the world of the Humans, Nine-year-old Ren struggles to fit himself among both lands, while under the watchful eye of his mentor Kumatetsu, a beast and martial arts master.
In 2015, The Boy and the Beast earned nearly $50 million in Japan, making it the second highest-grossing film for the year in the country. The film was licensed by FUNimation for the English dub, set to release in North American theaters on March 4, 2016.
The Geek Outpost staff was invited by FUNimation to attend a special early screening of the film, and having gone in completely unaware of its success and impact in Japan, we were blown away by the style of the animations and the incredible voice work of the English cast.
English Dub Trailer
“The latest feature film from award-winning Japanese director Mamoru Hosoda (Summer Wars, Wolf Children): When Kyuta, a young orphan living on the streets of Shibuya, stumbles into a fantastic world of beasts, he’s taken in by Kumatetsu, a gruff, rough-around-the-edges warrior beast who’s been searching for the perfect apprentice. Despite their constant bickering, Kyuta and Kumatetsu begin training together and slowly form a bond as surrogate father and son. But when a deep darkness threatens to throw the human and beast worlds into chaos, the strong bond between this unlikely pair will be put to the ultimate test—a final showdown that will only be won if the two can finally work together using all of their combined strength and courage.” –FUNimation.com
Several moments throughout the film resembled that of classic Disney animated motion pictures, and I mean that in the sincerest of compliments. Then of course there were sequences in style that reminded me of popular anime series’ like Samurai Champloo and Trigun, two of my favorites. I was awestruck and taken aback by the emotion I felt brought on by the characters, particularly Ren as he so desperately desires to prove himself and find his place in life. Shunned by some, endeared by others, Ren’s journey through seeking companionship, love, and accomplishment provides much to relate to (especially if you have ever encountered a bear that knew martial arts).
Whether you are familiar with Mamoru Hosoda by name or not, you certainly have seen his work many times in his animations or directives, perhaps without even knowing it.
Sometimes it takes a beast to show you what it means to be human. Or maybe not.
As anime becomes increasingly popular in North America, there will be certain stories that resonate and leave a long-lasting impact on the way you look at parts of your life, and The Boy and the Beast certainly leaves a mark on my shortlist of highly influential stories to get you thinking. If you are not familiar with the film, I strongly advise that you give it a chance. You won’t be disappointed, for that I guarantee.
The English dubbed version of the film stars John Swasey, Eric Vale, Luci Christian, Bryn Apprill, Ian Sinclair, Sean Hennigan, Austin Tindle, Josh Grelle, Brittney Karbowski, Monica Rial, and Chuck Huber.