Blu-ray Review: The Boy and The Beast

After an unexpected long time Mamoru Hosoda’s The Boy and The Beast finally arrives within the UK on Blu-ray; but what can one expect from the film? and more imporantly was this UK Blu-ray release via STUDIO CANAL worth the wait? Well let’s find out in our latest review.

Synopsis:

The Boy and the Beast tells the story of Kyuta, a young orphan boy living on the streets of Shabuya. One day, Kyuta loses his way and stumbles into the world of beasts, where he meets Kumatetsu, a warrior beast in search of the perfect apprentice. Kyuta becomes his disciple and, after a stormy beginning, the pair form a deep bond. But when a force of darkness threatens both the human and imaginary worlds, their chance encounter becomes the ultimate test of strength, courage and friendship.

Directed by award-winning Japanese director Mamoru Hosoda (Wolf Children) and with a beautiful, seamless mix of classic hand-drawn animation and CGI, THE BOY AND THE BEAST is a heart-warming coming-of-age action fantasy tale that goes beyond your imagination…

Our View:

Just like with Mamoru Hosoda’s previous works, namely Wolf Children and Summer Wars, The Boy and the Beast is a truly magnificent piece of storytelling and animation. It may not deliver the same emotional impact that recent films may offer, such as A Silent Voice or Your Name; but it does deliver a truly entertaining experience that makes the two hour run-time just breeze by. Unfortunately however the same can not be said for this Blu-ray release of the film by STUDIOCANAL; as however you slice it it’s just not good enough.

Naturally I am not referring to the films ‘visual’ or ‘audio’ quality, as with the native 1080p visuals  and DTS-HD Surround Sound options for both English and Japanese audiotracks – as well as a Hard of Hearing Subtitle track for the English Dub – the film is well presented. No; I am referring to the non-existent bonus features on the disc and extremely simplistic menu presentation.

UK anime fans have waited over a year for The Boy and The Beast to arrive and now that it has it is disappointing to say that we only receive a small portion of what American (and Australian) fans received.  As a comparison the American release contained (not only) Blu-ray, DVD & Ultraviolet additions of the film within a single package but it also came complete with Japanese promotional materials; of which are completely absent from this UK release. The Australian release meanwhile even came with a ‘making of’ documentary; but none of these are included with this UK release. Alas; I shouldn’t really ‘complain’ about the lack of these features but when a film ‘this good’ arrives half-heartedly it is a bit disappointing.

Complaints aside The Boy and The Beast is a feature-length-film directed by Mamoru Hosoda that sees an unlikely pair become the ultimate family through training, hardship and perseverance. It’s a story that begins when Nine Year Old Boy Ren runs away from home and encounters the beast known as Kumatetsu on the streets of Shibuya.

Intrigued by this mysterious character, and his request at becoming a disciple, Ren follows Kumatetsu to the beast kingdom to which his new life awaits him. Sparing any spoilers, as well as a fair amount of laughs, Ren eventually agrees to become Kumatetsu’s disciple and the two soon work together in order to better themselves and the community; a feat which soon sees Ren (now named as Kyuta by Kumatetsu) becoming a teacher within the Beast Kingdom.

The film may be two hours in length but the film spans over a decade with viewers treated to Kyuta growing up from a young boy to a respectable young man; to which the second portion (of this three portion story) begins to appear. In this portion of the film Kyuta accidentally discovers a way back to the human world and it’s here where he befriends a human girl known as Kaede.

If the first portion of the film was about family then this second portion is about love as although clearly not seen on screen Kaede and Kyuta, now under the name as Ren, clearly show affection for each other in the mildest of forms. As part of this portion of the film Kyuta (Ren) ditches his teachings within the beast World in order to spend more time studying with Kaede within the real world to which the third and final portion of the film begins to arise.

The final portion of this films returns back to the films ‘monologue’ style introduction; an introduction which explains that the lord of the beast kingdom is in the process of choosing a successor with two candidates currently available. The first candidate is Lozen with the second being Kumatetsu; although most favour Lozen due to his family lifestyle and refined fighting style. To settle the debate a duel between the candidates was decided and now, more than a decade after, the fight between Lozen and Kumatetsu begins but when the ‘darkness of a human’ arises within the stadium during the battle it causes destruction for both beast and human worlds alike.

In short; everything has been building up to this final moment of the film – the introduction, the upbringing of a young boy, the teachings from student to master and the fight for survival – it all comes to fruition at the end to deliver an overall satisfying film that leaves nothing wasted and no time lost. It also delivers an important message; that family is for life no matter how or where you are raised.

Extras:

As previously mentioned this UK Blu-ray release of The Boy and the Beast does not feature any supplementary content with the exception a few trailers, for other STUDIOCANAL titles, before the main menu is reached. In this case trailers for Swallows & Amazons, Studio Ghibli Season at Cinema, When Marnie Was There are present on the disc.

Just like the trailers included on FUNimation authored discs these same trailers cannot be accessed from the main menu (but they can be skipped). It is a shame that the supplementary content from the American release of the film, such as the Japanese promotional materials (all of which had English Subtitles), as well as the making of documenatry from the Australian release couldn’t be brought over for UK release; but alas we will just have to make do with what we get.

On the positive side this UK release does feature both an English Hard-of-hearing subtitle track, which is designed for use on the English Dub, as well as an English subtitle track, which is designed for use on the Japanese Dub. Basically the English subtitles are a translation of the Japanese dialogue whereas the English Hard-of-hearing subtitle is text (or dubtitles if you prefer) for the English dub audio track.

Specs:

Media:  BD 50
Region: B
Running Time:  1:59:06
Video: MPEG-4 AVC
Audio: DTS-HD 5.1 (English & Japanese), LPCM 2.0 (English & Japanese)
Subtitles: English (White), English Hard of Hearing (White)
Resolution: 1920×1080 (1080p)
Aspect Ratio: 16:9
Frame Rate: 23.976 fps

Overall:

As a film Mamoru Hosoda’s The Boy and the Beast excels by providing a thoroughly enjoyable story with great animation, set-pieces, characters and music but as a ‘package’ then this Blu-ray release via STUDIOCANAL provides some disappointments.

Sure enough it is great to finally own this entertaining anime experience within the UK but it’s disappointing how we are not given the same experience as those in other countries – namely the the selection of bonus materials made available. Of course this is just a small price to pay for a film thats great in both English Dub and Japanese audio formats; but however you watch it you will be in for two hours of entertainment.

Score: review-stars-4

The Boy and the Beast is now available on Blu-ray and DVD within the UK.

About Scott Emsen
Scott is the Founder and Executive Editor of AnimeBlurayUK but in the past he has worked at ZOMGPlay, Rice Digital and Funstock and was once a Community Moderator for the Nokia N-Gage forums. Based in the UK, he loves anything related to Games & Anime and in In his spare time you'll mostly find him playing on one of his many gaming consoles; namely the PS Vita, PS4 or Xbox One.

One Response to Blu-ray Review: The Boy and The Beast

  1. Pingback: The Boy and The Beast Available to Steam for Amazon Prime UK Members | AnimeBlurayUK

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