A story about a boy doesn’t want to face his life and runs away and a beast who hasn’t quite figured out how life works. Together the two will learn and grow to discover what really matters to them.
It isn’t really news that I don’t watch a lot of anime movies. Even ones attached to series that I quite like don’t normally get watched unless there’s a pressing need to complete a story. The Boy and the Beast wasn’t on my radar but then one day it showed up on Anime Lab and given my subscription there is reaching the end of its life, I figured why not. I’m really glad I did.
While this story isn’t exactly going to blow your socks off with originality as children running away from home and having some adventure to teach them some moral lesson is as stock standard as they come, the delivery here sells it beautifully. Not to mention, the cast of beasts that the boy encounters kind of lift this film from what might have been a fairly mediocre fair to something that becomes quite striking and memorable.
Early on, I was a little concerned. The opening narration is all very ordinary and then the encounter that leads to the boy running away seemed incredibly rushed. I get that his circumstances weren’t great but his running away just seemed like a forced response rather than a natural reaction to the situation. However, the boy very soon encounters the beast and after following him away from the human world, everything in this movie gets better.
What really works at the core of this film is the relationship that is constructed between the boy and the beast. The boy refused to give his name so the beast names him after his age, a name that sticks despite the boy growing up into a man over the course of the movie The two bicker and fight almost continuously as the beast is every bit as childish as the child but slowly and grudgingly the two begin to see the good points in the other and respect begins to form.
As much as the earlier encounters and relationships in the movie seem very rushed and forced, the perfect amount of time is put into making the relationship between these two characters feel as authentic as possible. While there are plenty of fights, training sequences, squabbles, and laughs along the way, this movie always comes back to that relationship and it has a lot of heart.
Even a final fight sequence that kind of looks beautiful but seems just a little overblown for the sake of being a final fight sequence can’t really shake the goodwill this movie builds up over its run-time.
All and all, this was a very enjoyable watch and one I’ll probably look out for on DVD.
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The Boy and the Beast, Vol. 1 (manga)