The boy and the Beast is a Japanese animated movie directed by Mamoru Hosoda, This movie is about a boy named Ren who lost his parents and was raised by a beast named Kumatetsu. Mamoru Hosoda is now one of the most famous Japanese animation directors known for his masterpieces Summer Wars and Wolf Children. This movie was shown in Japan in July, and I was there during the summer. TV shows and all the stores promoted this movie and it seemed like it was the most popular animated movie during the summer in Japan. Since I did not get to see the movie in Japan, I was very excited to see it at the Hawaii International Film Festival. Thanks to its popularity, the theatre was fully packed and I saw a lot of Japanese people there.
This movie uses a lot of famous actors and actress for voice actors. Ren was played by Aoi Miyazaki and Shota Sometani, and both are two of the most popular young actors in Japan. Shota Sometani won some international movie awards, such as Maecello Mastroianni Award for Best New Young Actor at the Venice Film Festival in Italy. This movie hired two voice actors for Ren for his childhood and adulthood. I think that is a good idea to use different actors for a character’s childhood and adulthood, because a boy’s voice is supposed to change. However, it sounded so unnatural in this case. Shota Sometani’s voice is too low compared with Aoi Miyazaki’s very pretty female voice. I honestly did not understand that they were the same person at first because of the change of his voice. I guess using a famous actor helps with promoting a movie, but this movie should have cared more about how it would sound.
Maybe it is just because I was too excited before watching the movie, but I was very disappointed by this movie. It was honestly worse than I expected. The movie overall was very cute and I like how the characters have grown up throughout the conflicts. However, the very last part of the movie ruins everything and after watching the movie, I had to wonder why the director decided to finish this film like this. For me, the last part looked like redundancy.
The first part of the movie was about how Ren and Kumatetsu built a relationship by living together and fighting each other, and I really loved that part. For Ren, Kumatetsu is like his father, and they love each other so much, but they are both not good at speaking their feelings. This movie shows the difficulties of expressing their feelings very well. They do not compliment each other because they are shy, but this movie conveys their kinds of feelings through their facial expressions. I especially loved their smiles that give a relief. The relationship between a father and a son tends to be exaggerated in movies, but the process of building the relationship in this movie is so natural and eventual. The growth of Ren was written very well and it was so fun watching it.
At the last part, this movie goes in a weird direction and it ruins the whole movie. After Kumatetsu wins a game to be a leader of his world, the rival’s son named Ichirohiko stabs Kumatetsu and goes crazy and destroys Tokyo. No one would think Ichirohiko would be their enemy, because he is just the son of Kumatetsu’s rival and does not really show up during the first part of the movie. It really confused and discouraged me. Most parts of the movie have told about Ren and Kumatetsu and suddenly this character people do not care about comes up and destroys a part of Tokyo. Although Ichirohiko’s power is huge enough to crush cars and skyscrapers in Tokyo, the battle scene was so short and Ren won it easily. To beat Ichirohiko, Kumatetsu decides to become a spirit and live in Ren’s heart. The decision is made so quick and that was just too sad that his becoming just a spirit and nobody can see him anymore. If what the movie wanted to convey to the audience was the last part, this movie really should have focused on the battle scene. Too many things are going on in the last part and it is hard to catch up.
The last part disappointed me even more because the first part was just awesome. I really wish they ended the movie when Kumatetsu won the game. I have never seen another of Mamoru Hosoda’s movies, however, I have heard some of his movies go off the direction and confuse and disappoint the audience in the last half. Maybe it is his way of making movies and a lot of people sure like the style by seeing he is getting a lot of fans, however, I personally do not like it. I am from Japan and have grown up watching Japanese animations since childhood, however, it had been a long time since last time I saw an animated movie. I felt the that characters started using more casual words than before. After watching this movie, I came to want to see today’s Japanese movies more. If you consider this movie as just a kids’ movie, I think it was okay, but if you seek more depth and a well developed story from it, maybe this is not the right one you want to watch.