Mamoru Osada lately introduced his new born Ren, a nine years old child, to the wide screen of the 7th Art. Since the film director wrote The Girl Who Leapt Through Time (2006), Summer Wars (2009) and Wolf Children (2012) a lot of people was waiting for the Boy and the Beast to be translated from Japanese to English. I must confess that my feeling about the main character was, at first, pitiful. The manga/comic type of the drawing allows an occidental viewer to wonder about the age of this little guy for, at least, the twenty first minutes of the film. This suspense is not one but only a misunderstanding between two cultures. This would not be so bad if the consequence for a British viewer was not to be brought face to face with a character lacking a realistic personality. As the occidental audience cannot figure out how a teenager can act the way Ren does, he or she will read into the boy’s behaviour an overreaction to the situation he is facing. To sum up: both perception and reception are biased depending on whether the audience is settled in the country of the rising sun or not. If the bet for the Chizu Studios was to imagine a film able to go beyond cultures’ boundaries, they were deluding themselves. If you decide to watch this movie I must warn you: stay aware that the western films are more often focused on feelings like sadness or shyness and the way to overcome them, whereas eastern ones are bound to deal with anger or revenge and the way to live with them.
Basically, there are two films in one, that is to say a film within a film. The second one – which is, as far as I am concerned, more interesting than the first one I mentioned in the last paragraph – starts when Kumatetsu, a beast yearning to become Lord of the Beast Kingdom, chooses Ren as his pupil and gives him a new name: Kyuta. The idea is that from this point Ren is given a new life where he is not a child anymore. Indeed, this second film is swallowed by the first one and ends sooner but lasts longer. In fact, as soon as Ren becomes a young man and goes back to the human world the film within the film stops. This fact makes sense if you consider that Ren has been dreaming most of the time, just like a little boy would build an imaginary universe where he would feel secure enough to start growing up.
I cannot go further without spoiling too much on this very poetical film which is a must watch of the Japanese film industry. But maybe would you send me your own reading of it? Tell me: are you willing to watch the Boy and the Beast ?