REVIEW | THE BOY AND THE BEAST

I attended the french premiere during the event The Night of Japanimation. Back then I had a little feeling of being a VIP for some reasons but that’s not today’s subject, hehehe… Without further ado, here is my review of the film. Wish you a pleasant read.

ID CARD : THE BOY AND THE BEAST

Original title : Bakemono no ko (バケモノの子)
International title : The Boy and the Beast
Director : Mamoru Hosoda
Country : Japan
Release date : July 2016, 11th (Japan)
Duration : 2h

Trailer (eng. subs):

Synopsis :

Shibuya, the human world and Jutengai, the Beasts world… This is the story of a solitary boy and a lone Beast, each living in two separate worlds. One day, the boy is lost in the beasts world where he becomes the disciple of the Beast Kumatetsu who gives it the name of Kyuta. This unexpected encounter is the beginning of an adventure beyond imagination…

My review :

At first, several things had me thinking this was a movie aimed at children. Among these things, let me first mention the title, the Boy and the Beast, which unconsciously reminded me of the Beauty and the Beast. Second, the film poster : the brightness of the colors, the characters’ posture, the layout… I imagined a movie in the likes of Disney. By the way, I hardly ever watch the trailers so I can get misleaded more easily.

Balemono no ko

In the present case, I was pleasantly surprised to see there were two readings to the story – one infantine, one adult – and therefore I found the film all the more satisfying. More on this down below.

From a technical point of view, I found the drawings very gentle – the colors often pulling towards the pastel – as well as a fluid animation, which confers a poetic aspect to the film. I was surprised by the richness of the sets especially the realism of Tokyo (stores keep their real names: H&M remains H&M and not H&W for example).

As for sounds, music, voices, I admit I have nothing particular to say about it : either because the production has done a good job, or because I’m not sensitive to it. However, I note that the seiyus do a remarkable job and brings additional texture to the film ; I only recognized Miyano Mamoru, one of my favorite voice actors with a voice you can recognize 800 miles away.

Now let’s look at the story, the message. I thought it was a “mere” combat movie but it goes way beyond that. As I mentioned above, the film is virtually composed of two parts although this division becomes almost physical.

First of all, the first half (about the first 50 minutes) where the atmosphere is childish or disney-ish. We discover a fantastic world populated by fairy creatures. That’s also the period one can witness the birth of the master-disciple relationship between two complete opposite characters (a human child and a Jutengai beast), having in common a solitary life and being rejected by the world surrounding them. This entertainment-rich part is beaded with humor, sweetness and lays the foundations of the developments, more serious.

As a matter of fact, in the second half, Kyuta grows up. From this point, the trivial part of the film gives way to a deeper process with themes such as individual identity/pursuit of oneself, strength of bonds between people or the transmission of values through mentors (master, father, friends and even rivals…). In the wake of the initial story, the characters evolve and build themselves : you can observe their change in relation to the others, in relation to the world that surrounds them. The notions of combat and enemy extend to abstract concepts, more related to the trials of life and thus allowing the spectator to identify himself and attach himself to the characters.

Overall rating, totally subjective and non-binding: 7.5/10

To be honest, I watched this movie twice : the first time during the Night of the Japanimation in November 2015, and the second a few days ago in order to write a relevant review. This film really dazzled me and moved me on the first viewing but I have to confess I was a little bored the second time.

Overall, I recommend as it remains a good entertainment, well written and well crafted.

Chrys Prolls

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