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C. J. Cherryh once told Mercedes LackeyThis is too much for one book. Commit trilogy[1].

The single biggest problem with The Boy and the Beast, Mamoru Hosoda’s latest film, is that someone should have told him “Commit TV Series”.

Don’t get me wrong, The Boy and the Beast is a fun film to watch. In fact it’s a hugely fun film to watch, and I certainly had a ball watching it in the cinema this afternoon.

Where it suffers is in terms of the emotional depth, in the development of the side characters[2], and to an extent the core relationship between Ren and Kumatetsu. Although, to be fair, the latter is reasonably well handled.

In terms of basic themes The Boy and the Beast is similar to Hosoda’s previous films Summer Wars and Wolf Children. Like both previous films[3], The Boy and the Beast is about family: about losing it, about finding it, about filling the void in your heart that goes with being human (or wolf) and lonely.

The theme is handled well enough but too shallowly to really make an impression, and there’s possibly too much comedy distracting from the key moments[4]. However the comedy does make for a fun film to watch, and The Boy and the Beast is probably worth seeing just for that. I’m certainly not regretting it, and may well pick up a copy for the collection later.

The Boy and the Beast is still a good film, but it’s not the best that Hosoda can produce, and could have made an amazing TV series that explored the depths of the premise properly.

I saw the subtitled version but the dub sounds pretty good in this trailer.

Currently on limited release around Australia, see http://theboyandthebeast.com/ for cinemas and session times.

[1] Thankfully she did. I really do like the Heralds of Valdemar series.

[2] Some more justification for the Face Heel Turn and Heel Face Turn of two characters would have been nice.

[3] This may apply to The Girl Who Leapt Through Time as well but I’ve only seen that once and can’t remember enough of the plot to be certain. I may fix that at some point.

[4] Oddly this reminds me of the musical Miss Saigon which is supposed to be a tragedy, and does have some deeply moving moments, but the show is ultimately stolen by the comedic relief of The Engineer.