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Boy and the Beast, The

FUNimation // PG-13 // June 7, 2016
List Price: $34.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]

Review by Neil Lumbard | posted July 18, 2016 | E-mail the Author


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The Boy and The Beast Blu-ray Review


The Boy and the Beast style="">is the latest film from acclaimed filmmaker Mamoru
Hosoda (Wolf Children, The Girl Who Leapt
Through Time
). The
film is a fantasy-sci-fi-drama that explores the human world and a
fantastical world called the Beast Kingdom. The film is produced by
Yuichiro
Saito, Takuya Ito, Atsushi Chiba, and Genki Kawamura.


The central protagonist of the story is Ren. At
the start of
the story Ren is a 9 year old orphan child living on the streets of
Tokyo. He
soon meets "the beast" Kumatetsu and finds himself entering into the
Beast Kingdom: a magical otherworld which is home to a wide variety of
fantastic
creatures.  Kumatetsu decides to take Ren
under his wing and train him to be an excellent fighter like himself.
As his
trainer, Kumatetsu teaches Ren about how to become stronger as a
warrior. Kumatetsu
trains himself and Ren to be better fighters while trying to become
recognized
in the Beast Kingdom for his strength.


The story unfolds with the training between
Kumatetsu and
Ren before it turns back to the story of Ren in the human world. Ren,
now a
young adult, yearns for a college education and to live in the real
world
again. Ren begins a romance with a young woman and starts to seek out a
world
away from the Beast Kingdom: the human world. Ren also seeks out his
real-life father
(whom he doesn't remember). The Boy and The Beast is as much a
story of
a young adult Ren looking for life in the human world as it is a story
of
"the boy and the beast".


The animation is
from production company Studio Chizu (Wolf
Children
, Summer Wars). The production
company was involved in the productions of all of the films directed by
Mamoru
Hosoda. The animation quality continues to excel as a fine example of
quality
animation. In terms of the fantastical world of the Beast Kingdom, the
animators did fine work with this otherworldly place. It's a strong
effort
which is often quite beautiful.


The music score for
the film was composed by Masakatsu Takagi (The
Kingdom of Dreams and Madness
, Wolf
Children
). This is a lovely sounding score. It adds a nice quality
to the
film and it's artistic sensibilities. The music helps the film excel.


Unlike previous films
by the filmmaker (which involved screenwriter Satoko Okudera), Mamoru
Hosoda (Wolf Children) wrote and directed The
Boy and The Beast
on his own. The
film's story is quite ambitious and aims to be both a wonderful fantasy
and a
more serious-toned drama. The story works in many measures but it also
flounders somewhat within its ambitions. It aims to be many things and
ends up
being less successful in each with some poor pacing.


The  storytelling
 sometimes feel more convoluted and less
focused than it should. The storyline jumps fast between being a
fantasy
exploring Ren and
Kumatetsu's friendship to the
human-world/older- Ren
storyline that neither aspect of the film seems as well-crafted as it
should. Ultimately,
The Boy and The Beast feels like it would be a better film if it
spent
more time exploring the friendship and paternal aspect of the
relationship
between Ren and Kumatetsu.


Though The Boy and the Beast falters
somewhat with its
storyline it still has plenty of moments of whimsy and excitement to
make it
worth a watch. Hosoda is a talented
director and the film has many well-done sequences. The action is
exciting and
involved. The animation is a visual wonder. There are many scenes with
excellent visual flair throughout. The film isn't quite the classic it
wants to
be but it's still an entertaining film which will be enjoyed by fans of
Hosoda.


The Blu-ray:


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Video:


The Boy and the Beast style="">arrives on Blu-ray
from Funimation Entertainment with an impressive 1080p MPEG-4 AVC
encoded
presentation in the original theatrical aspect ratio of 1.85:1
widescreen. This
is a beautiful looking film with a tremendous color palette. The film
has
amazing animation and rich artistry which is well presented on this
Blu-ray release.
This presentation certainly pleases and does not disappoint. The
animation
looks vivid and is remarkably clear and crisp.


Audio:


The film is presented in Dolby TrueHD 5.1. The
film is
available with both English and Japanese language presentations.
English
subtitles are provided for the Japanese language presentation. In terms
of the subtitles included on the release, the effort is quite
impressive and the subtitles don't have issues with formatting or
grammatical errors.


The release does have an issue with the audio
tracks and
some may experience difficulty playing the surround sound tracks on
this
release. This is an unfortunate drawback to the release.


style="font-size: 10pt; font-family: "Verdana","sans-serif";">


Extras:


style="">Please note that this
release is a Blu-ray +
DVD + HD UV Combo Pack.


Alas, this is an
almost entirely barebones Blu-ray. The release suffers from an almost
non-existent supplemental package. This is especially disappointing
given that
a well-rounded supplemental package was provided on the Australian
Blu-ray
edition.


This is what is
included:


Original Teaser
Trailer


Japanese Trailers #1
and #2


U.S. Trailer


Trailers for other
Funimation entertainment releases
are provided.


Final Thoughts: style="">


The Boy and the Beast style="">is an entertaining film filled with plenty
of spectacle. The storytelling isn't quite as polished as in other
films by
director Hosoda but the film is still one of the better anime film
productions
to come out recently and fans of the filmmaker are encouraged to check
it out.


While The Boy and the
Beast
comes recommended,
Funimation's Blu-ray release is a bit of a disappointment with
problematic
audio and a poor selection of supplements. Funimation has already
announced
plans for a re-release under the banner of the "Mamoru Hosoda
Collection" which fans should expect to contain a booklet (and almost
assuredly a nice collection of making-of supplements).  Fans
of the filmmaker should consider this
release worth renting to check out the film but might want to hold out
for the
(presumably) better edition that is forthcoming.


Rent It. style="">



Neil Lumbard is a lifelong fan of cinema. He aspires to make movies and has written two screenplays on spec. He loves writing, and currently does in Texas.

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