Three years after the wonderful Ame and Yuki, the children of wolves (2012) that was born from the desire of the filmmaker Mamoru Hosoda to have children, his new film, THE BOY AND THE BEAST is a direct response to the birth of his first son. Continuing his study of children around thoughts and themes always more and more intimate, THE BOY AND THE BEAST turns out to be a work of clairvoyance staggering, which should, once and for all, attest to the immense talent of this filmmaker, the successor logic of the master Hayao Miyazaki.

THE BOY AND THE BEAST is a kind of synthesis of all his previous films (Summer Wars, the crossing of The time) and is proposed as being the result of a reflection decade-long around the question : how to transmit its values to our time ? While The children, the wolves drew the portrait of a family united in tragedy, where each of the children will eventually embrace its own destiny, the new film ofHosoda continues to dissect these reports of transmission of values and parentage who, in a contemporary era completely disembodied, appear to be increasingly tenuous.

With the acuity of an anthropologist or even a psychologist, Hosoda book, probably his scenes the hardest, and most critical of the contemporary world, especially the world’s urban and capitalist. The image of the child Ren/Kyuta, a kind of hero-the lame, who tries to escape this world of degenerate, because abandoned of all. He found, by the miraculous appearance of the beast Kumatetsu, a tutelary figure, ready to serve him the father of adoption. Because as often with the director, the main characters are all orphans, whether they are humans or beasts. This quest for origins, a desire to find her place in the world, remains the main leitmotif of the fabulous stories ofHosoda. Sometimes violent, often electric, their relationship is both intense and beautiful. Made of engueulades and teased, it reflects the problem of communication suffers this type of individuals. But communication, and therefore education, can sometimes take on the other traits that the mere word, and when Kyuta manages to mimic the movements of Kumatetsu by the simple sound of his footsteps, Hosoda creates a “space-time” that belongs to both of them and binds them forever. All of the scenes that constitute the core of the training Kyuta are a visual intelligence that is remarkable.

When Kyuta is going to find his biological father, Hosoda leaves abruptly aside the fable, that is to say, all that relates to the initiation of the young heroes, to plunge us in a naturalistic bluffing, where remorse and unspoken come to darken the table. This mix of tones and feelings gives its protean aspect to the film. The fable and these ornaments enjoyable (the humor, the tribute to the movie sword, the legend of the Lords) to come and be confronted with scenes of striking realism, which, by their nature dramatic (Kyuta is again a simple lost child), raises a veil terrible : a dehumanization of the society as illustrated by the many surveillance cameras that criss-cross the city, and by this overcrowding, shapeless mass, where people are seen more, plot their route without paying attention to what is happening around. A world devoid of poetry, incapable of looking through things, where only the neon signs of brands come to decorate and illuminate a universe of pretense, illusion, the colors garish and vulgar.

“Hosoda has this innate capacity to exalt and transcend the idea story and make it a feat, and visual.”

The genius ofHosoda may be going to look in this direction. In his political report to the images that it interferes in his fable. It also has this innate capacity to exalt and transcend the idea story, and make it a feat of visual. And when we know that in his films, ideas abound to every plan. The result is often stunning. But the lyricism ofHosoda reached a peak during his famous ellipses, in other words, all of his plans where the time passes in a few seconds, until they manage to synthesize and crystallize the content of drama that plays (when Iozen, the rival of Kumatetsu, lies openly to his son Ichirōhiko promising, a beautiful day, teeth of a pig as his father). And what shall we say then of the choreography of combat, where sword-fighting film and manga are a second youth in the animation ofHosoda. His staging is so beautiful foley sound ; cinema hyper-sensory, he’s having fun with codes from representations of duels : transformations/mutations of the Beasts that, in the space of a moment, are able to multiply their strength by focusing their Qi, make duels exciting and surprising.

Delight of the eyes and ears, these duels, reminiscent of those, the most fun, of Summer Wars, but maintain a discipline, which emanates from a part of classic japanese cinema. A real tribute to the sword-fighting film of the 1950s and 1960s, the virtues of the samurai, as the sword kept in the scabbard, are highlighted. Like for example, this idea of the sword as an extension of the heart and soul, that includes and formalises the engineering visual ofHosoda, under the symbolic form of the embodiment of Kumatetsu in sabre. But as these fads visual, it is the theme of the descent, pushed to the extreme by Hosoda who is never afraid of the symbolism and of allegory, which resurfaced. The still image of the whale, mirror of the soul perverts the hero’s, revised and corrected by the film-maker who no longer hesitate to draw on all of the mythologies popular, whether they are eastern or western. The viewer is no longer surprised to see the clash’s legendary captain Ahab against Moby Dick, transcribed, and enriched (manga ultra-dramatic), by the abundant universe ofHosoda.

Filmmaker of extraordinary generosity, his anime are drawn by an unbounded ambition : they take place over several years and are filled with characters and stories to tell. But the conflict of passion always remain universal. Here, it is the part brown is present in every human being, always ready to explode like a time bomb, which serves as the bedrock moral of the fable. And if the overdose is created by this hysteria visual is never very far away, his film is such a sincerity and such a vitality, that he always managed to catch up and move with a detail or a simple look.

While the moral of the fable, which embraces in a single movement of such virtues as respect, love, friendship and sharing, never comes to reduce the load that is evocative of the heartrending pictures of the filmmaker. There is something almost magical, supernatural in his films which is beyond the understanding of a moral kind. It is worn by a movement beneficial, liberating, to the image of the subjective camera swirling that trace its course and that nothing seems able to stop. It is good that the style ofHosoda is moving, evolving, like that of his famous pans and dolly shots side who play on the off-field transitions, and elliptical : it defuses the dramatic to go back to the basics, a look, at once tender and compassionate, loving being. This helps, still this self-help, the film did not budge. If while Kyuta managed to fight his weakness as a human being – his removal from being a simple orphan, is imbued with a strong sense of abandonment, that has been continuously in the form of an empty heart – because he is helped and supported by his loved ones. He should urge this hand brunette to his body, he should conquer, to strive to find this harmony of life lies in the acceptance of his part-animal (the education of Kumatetsu, the world of Animals that has been collected) and of his part human (his biological father, the human world where it was born).

It is thanks to the moral support, such as the guardian angel is depicted by this small mouse, and this feeling of being loved, of never be alone (the red bracelet given by the girl who acts as a booster to the image of the ritornello in The children of wolves), he manages to overcome his demons, symbolized by his evil twin. The spiritual elevation, the momentum of sublime own to Kyuta is built throughout the film around the transmission of values : after having learned to fight from the master (rise of the body) and play with the girl (elevation of spirit), he forgives us, finally, to his two fathers, and frees itself entirely of its discharge, making him a true hero-winner.

With THE BOY AND THE BEAST, Hosoda sign a very great movie. A brilliant beauty, the film conceptualizes the many traumas of our time : between identity crisis and the problem of parentage, the film gives the most beautiful responses, that of sharing and of mutual assistance, where the elevation sublime for the moral education of our “fathers” becomes the only way to fight against obscurantism and his tendencies perverse. At this point, Hosoda joined the great lineage of japanese filmmaker humanists that precedes it, and whose memory thriving through his films, which continue to query the trauma of post-war Japan while including, under new arrangements, in a context of contemporary, globalized and anxiety-provoking.

Antoine Gaudé



Carol, Creed, Bang Gang, And your sister, A Second Chance, The boy and the beast, etc


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