The Boy and the Beast was a fun movie–even a great movie. I loved the animation, which excelled both in the action sequences and when depicting the backgrounds. Some of the scenes in Tokyo do a remarkable job of making the viewer feel like he is right there with Kyuuta. The soundtrack melded seamlessly with the action of the story.
My biggest complaint might very well be the dub. I watched it in English, and actresses were selected to voice the boy characters. The Japanese do this all of the time. However, when the Japanese actresses take on the roles of boys, I never find myself thinking: “Well, that’s an unnaturally sexy voice coming out of that kid.” It might very well have been better to have used some young male talents for these parts. The voice talents of John Swasey as Kumatetsu and Ian Sinclair as Tatara stood out as the two best performaces. I do not think that I have heard the latter gentleman before. Sinclair’s voice sounds very similar to Steve Blum’s (Spike Spiegel of Cowboy Bebop and Makoto Shishio in Rurouni Kenshin).
The central point about the story appears to be that maturity does not come about without responsibility. Nothing so accelerates a person’s maturation as caring for and shaping a young life. This is probably why Kumatetsu’s lord won’t let the match between Kumatetsu and Iozen commence until Kumatetsu has taken in a disciple. Kumatetsu is a likable fellow but very undisciplined and unmotivated.
There are good reasons for Kumatetsu to be this way. He appears to have started life as an orphan and no martial arts master would accept him as a disciple. When he meets Kyuuta, his offer to become Kyuuta’s master no doubt derives from a desire to free Kyuuta from the life of loneliness Kumatetsu had endured himself. Over the course of the film, the relationship between our heroes allows them to exchange gifts of love, discipline, responsibility, and strength which they would not have otherwise received.
So much of the film concerns the inner growth of our two heroes that the apparent plot of Kumatetsu training to defeat Iozen takes a backseat to how our heroes change over time. This is a character-driven story. The comedy and action also do much to bring up the show’s level of enjoyment. Anyone who hasn’t watched The Boy and the Beast should do so when they can. My final rating is…