The Boy and the Beast: An Underrated Anime Classic

Anime movies have appeared in international cinemas since the 1900s, but in recent years, the amount of films receiving global releases has increased exponentially with the booming popularity of anime. It has become an opportunity for series to gain theatrical attention on the big screen.

For a long time, Studio Ghibli, with its characteristic style, has been the gold standard for anime films, particularly in the west. However, with modern releases like Your Name taking the world by storm, attention has now been drawn to a wide variety of anime movies in general. The Boy and the Beast is an animated film directed by Hosoda Mamaru that was released in 2015. It is one such movie that was extremely well executed but ended up flying under the radar. RELATED: These Are the Biggest Misses of the Summer 2022 Anime Season

One Boy, One Beast, One Family

After his mother is killed, nine-year-old Ren finds himself alone in the world without anyone to care for him — without parents, and nowhere to call home. He escapes into the twisting alleys of Shibuya where he stumbles across Kumatetsu, an intimidating beast that leads him into the beast realm of Shibuten.

Kumatetsu turns out to be a candidate in line to succeed the Lord of the Realm once he passes, but thanks of his cold persona, he has yet to retain a disciple which is one of the requirements. Ren and Kumatetsu agree to help one another, one looking for a home and the other looking for recognition. As the years go on, perhaps they help each other in more ways than they expected.

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Why Boy and the Beast Deserves More Attention

The Boy And The Beast is centralized on the core themes of loneliness and acceptance in found family. Both characters come from a place of isolation whether that be due to circumstances or their own temperament. While they appear very different both in terms of appearance and values, at the core, they are just two people who have never really found their place in the world. The film portrays a poignant journey of self-discovery and growth and reinforces the importance of acceptance. The family are usually the first ones that show acceptance no matter what, but neither of the protagonists have that, so eventually they find acceptance in each other, forming their own family.

Directed by Hosoda Mamoru, also known for his work in Wolf Children and Belle, nothing is ever as it seems throughout The Boy and the Beast. Mamoru is especially known for incorporating backgrounds into the storytelling process, and that is evident in The Boy And The Beast. His artistic style leans towards simplicity but focuses more on the detail in how a character moves and interacts to convey their emotions and intentions. Nothing ever feels static as Ren moves through the two worlds and the worlds themselves feel distinct from each other not just in appearance but in how it interacts with the characters that inhabit it. The seamless integration between the environment and the characters themselves makes for a much more complex story.

Despite not having garnered the same amount of attention of other films of similar concepts, The Boy And The Beast sets itself apart in its own right as a poignant coming of age story where the world grows with the protagonist. Fans of Wolf Children and Belle should give this underrated gem a chance.

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