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The Boy and the Beast Comes to Blu-ray and DVD!

by Funimation Entertainment (Paid Advertisement),

Mamoru Hosoda is back! The celebrated director of Wolf Children, Summer Wars and The Girl Who Leapt Through Time brings us his new epic, The Boy and the Beast. The film is released by Funimation on June 7 in two editions. There will be a combo pack featuring the film on Blu-ray, DVD and Digital HD Ultraviolet (Retail Price $34.98). There will also be a DVD edition of the film (Retail Price $29.98). The film is rated PG-13.

The Boy and the Beast is the story of a nine year-old runaway boy, Ren, lost in the neon jungle of central Tokyo where he meets a hairy stranger with very big teeth. But rather than devour him, the creature invites Ren into his own world, a realm called Jutengai where beasts battle for the right to become gods. Here Ren (renamed Kyuta) will grow to manhood under the rough tutelage of Kumatatsu, a bear-like Beast who hates cry-babies. But the boy realises Kumatetsu is not so different from him at all.

A smash in Japan, where the film earned nearly $50 million – an extraordinary figure for an anime film not tied to an established franchise nor to Studio Ghibli – The Boy and the Beast cements Hosoda's position as cinema's leading director in the fantasy tradition of Hayao Miyazaki. His film won the Japan Academy Award for ‘Animation of the Year’ in 2015, the fourth time he's won the prize.

Like his other films, The Boy and the Beast has characters who are flawed but fun, troubled yet heroically tenacious in supporting the people they care for. And also like Hosoda's other films, The Boy and the Beast passes between reality and fantasy. Much of the story takes place in a highly realistic Tokyo (specifically, the famed “scramble junction,” a giant pedestrian crossing in the Shibuya district). However, even the fantasy world of the Beasts is modelled on a real place; namely, Marrakech in Morocco.

In these ways, Hosoda grounds a film that has epic action and riotous physical comedy (recalling the vaudeville of the Marx Brothers). At the same time, the characters harbour inner demons and monsters; fittingly, the English name The Boy and the Beast can be interpreted multiple ways when you watch the film.

It's realised on screen by legends of key animation, including Toshiyuki Inoue (who drew the duelling motorbikes in Akira), Shinji Otsuka (who turned a boy into a blob-monster in the same film), Takeshi Koike (Redline, Lupin the Third: The Woman Called Fujiko Mine), Atsuko Tanaka, Takeshi Honda and Megumi Kagawa.

The music is by Masakatzu Takagi, back with Hosoda after providing the music for Wolf Children. The film also has an ending song by Mr. Children, which is one of the bestselling rock bands in Japan after more than twenty years in the business. Its vocalist Katzutoshi Sakurai described The Boy and the Beast as an “amazing film,” and said, “I was overcome with heart-wrenching feelings.”

The Japanese version of the film features a star-studded voice cast topped by Koji Yakusho as Kumatetsu. Yakusho is a titan of Japanese live-action cinema, and the leading man in Shall We Dance?, The Eel and Takashi Miike's Thirteeen Assassins.

The nine year-old boy Ren is voiced by actress Aoi Miyazaki, who returns to a Hosoda film after playing the resilient mother Hana in Wolf Children. Miyazaki turned heads back in 2000, when the then 14 year-old actress appeared in Shinji Aoyama's award-winning live-action Eureka beside Koji Yakusho.

The teenage version of Ren who appears later in The Boy and the Beast is voiced by Shota Sometani. He's one of the most omnipresent young Japanese actors, famed for his roles in the live-action films of Himizu and Parasyte (Himizu won him a Best Young Actor award at the Venice Film Festival). He also had a supporting voice-role in Wolf Children, and is married to giant-slaying actress Rinko Kikuchi (Pacific Rim).

Among the supporting characters in the film, Kaede, a human girl who befriends Ren, is voiced by Suzu Hirose. She took the title role in the recent live-action Our Little Sister, by the acclaimed director Hirokzu Koreeda.

The biggest name in anime terms is Mamoru Miyano, who voices Ichirohiko, the teenage son of Kumatetsu's main rival in the Beast world. Miyano is famous for his iconic anime leading roles as Light Yagami in Death Note and ‘mad scientist’ Rintaro Okabe in Steins;Gate. He's now voicing Kei in the horror anime Ajin.

Funimation's English voice-track also has a surfeit of big names. The young Ren is voiced by actress Luci Christian, who you'll know as Nami in One Piece, Kaname in Full Metal Panic and Nagisa in Clannad. The teenage Ren is voiced by Eric Vale, who's Sanji in One Piece, Trunks in Dragon Ball Z Kai and America in Hetalia - Axis Powers. John Swasey voices Kumatetsu, following his previous scary father figures like Gendo in the Evangelion films and Van Hohenheim in Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood.

The Boy and the Beast is written by Hosoda himself, from his original story. Talking at last year's Tokyo Film Festival, Hosoda suggested the film was aimed at the newest addition to his family. “(The film) actually started when we welcomed a baby boy recently,” he said. “I'm thinking as a parent, how is he going to grow up, how are we going to raise him? Is he going to be able to find a soulmate or some ‘master’ from whom he can learn about life?” For the answers, watch The Boy and the Beast!


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