Move over Summer Wars, because I have a new favorite Hosoda film now. If Funimation is showing The Boy and the Beast at a theater near you, it’s definitely a film you should see before it’s too late. Beast isn’t flawless, but its story is brilliant.
The Boy and the Beast focuses on Kyuta, the boy, and Kumatetsu, the beast. Sadly, Kyuta’s name gets lost in translation in Funimation’s dub, yet is explained in the subtitles for the Japanese audio version. At the start of the film, Kyuta is a nine year-old orphan, who has run away from home. Kumatetsu is the one who gives Kyuta his name, being a pun on the Japanese word for nine, Kyū. Some, but not all, of the Japanese audio version was dubtitled, but given the fantastic dub, as I’ve now come to expect from Funimation, it works out well. For the sub-only “purists”, the dub is worth giving a try. Funimation’s casting is excellent and the performance of the actors/actresses is equally as good as their Japanese counterparts.
As for the film itself, the story is excellent, as one should expect from Hosoda at this point; the music I’d love a physical copy of, a refreshing change after Wolf Children’s disappointing soundtrack; and the visuals are beautiful, with Shibuya re-created with painstaking detail. The level of detail in Beast may well be able to rival that of a Makoto Shinkai film, but perhaps that is thanks to Comix Wave collaborating on Beast’s production. However, there are spots of very obvious CG that clashes a bit with the otherwise 2D scenes. Considering the alternative would be lazy animation, with seas of color blobs for background characters rather than a high level of detail throughout a scene, with every single character detailed, I’ll take the CG.
In short, The Boy and the Beast is a delightful comedy that is serious when it needs to be, touching on coping with loss and jealousy in painful detail. Beast is visually stunning, with a fantastic soundtrack, and a dub equally as good as the original Japanese audio. Beast isn’t just worth seeing in theaters, it’s worth a pre-order as soon as they become available.
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