. He’s someone who’s still in the dark about where his father is, having just lost his mother, and armed with many other questions consuming him. He takes that overwhelming rage and decides it’s time to make a life on his own leaving behind his long distant relatives, and sets off on a very outlandish adventure.
This film really has a Jungle Book–esque vibe to it. Not only in its deep vibrant imagery and storytelling, either. It is reminiscent since the main plot of this tale is about how Kyuta stumbles upon the world of the beasts. And in great anime fashion, he accidentally finds this world when he decides to follow a camel in because of its suspicious nature.
As the story finds a foothold in that mysterious realm, Kyuto meets a very “rough around the edges” bear named Kumatetsu (John Swasey). And from there on, an accidental adventure through an alleyway portal turns into an opportunity to become a stronger young man as Kumatetsu’ apprentice. They both really need each other. Both want to be the best fighters in all the land. So as apprentice and master, the path they choose will only use that drive to test their entire being.
Now with this movie being directed by award-winning Mamoru Hosoda (Summer Wars, Wolf Children), everyone has high expectations. The art, cinematography, acting, and animation all combine into a story that seems to weave parts of our already familiar childhood movies into one form. It evokes The Jungle Book, An American Tail, The Secret of NIMH. The Boy and the Beast just has an originality to it that can still surpass most of the usual Pixar and DreamWorks norms if given the chance.
The English Dub version was released in select theaters by FUNimation, here in the U.S. on March 4th. According to the numbers, it still has a chance to be in one of the top five spots of its genre. It earned $490,643 in a small amount of theaters here in the U.S. but it smashed the Japan box office with a collected $46,863,971. The total theatrical debut hitting almost 50 million worldwide. That’s even before the DVD sales and numbers come in when it’s released for home viewing. For a Japanese anime it’s a great victory for everyone involved.
Anime has always been a small subculture for a long time in many circles and countries outside of Japan. Only recently has this ‘Japanese art’ started to crawl its way into people homes via the internet; to create a culture that is now very well known. All we can do is hope that other great movies like The Boy and the Beast keep coming our way. With Hayao Miyazaki ‘retired’, and Studio Ghibli out of the picture. It’s only natural to hope that someone else can come along and captivate our imaginations like they did with Spirited Away. Maybe The Boy and the Beast is the beginning of a new era for that void to filled.