The Boy and the Beast

Movie review by
Sandie Angulo Chen, Common Sense Media
The Boy and the Beast Movie Poster Image
 Parents recommend
Surprisingly touching coming-of-age adventure has heart.
  • PG-13
  • 2016
  • 119 minutes

Parents say

age 10+
Based on 6 reviews

Kids say

age 11+
Based on 3 reviews

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We think this movie stands out for:

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Listen to your teachers, follow their example, and accept help when you need it. The relationship between Kyuta and Kumatetsu proves that a father-son relationship isn't based on blood and that teamwork and perseverance are necessary to achieve certain goals. The movie spends a lot of time discussing the meaning of strength -- and how it shows itself in many forms.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Kyuta starts out strong-willed and angry, but he grows through his relationships with Kumatetsu and Kaede. He develops his skills as an apprentice, a warrior, and eventually a student and man. He's able to resist the darkness. Kumatetsu is egotistical and harsh when he first acts as Kyuta's master but later acts like a true mentor and father figure.


Sword battles, explosions, and property destruction. A character is nearly killed in a sword fight. Two young humans fight the Darkness and each other. One character dies, then reincarnates. The main character is an orphan, which could be distressing for younger children.


Kyuta and Kaede hold hands and embrace; they're obviously interested in each other but not in an overtly romantic way. Both a young Kyuta and big Kumatetsu wear traditional Japanese fundoshi underwear that shows the bottom, but it's in passing.


"S--t" is heard a few times, plus many uses of "damn it," "what the hell," and insults like "cocky little brat," "cocky little s--t," "idiot," "shut up," "pissed off," "kick your ass," "idiot cry baby," etc.


Starbucks is shown every time Ren/Kyuta goes back into Tokyo in the human world.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Boy and the Beast is a subtitled animated Japanese fantasy about an orphaned human boy who ends up being taken under the tutelage of a "beast" in a fantasy kingdom. This coming-of-age story has fish-out-of-water, adoption, and hero's-journey themes, and it features several battles, sword fights, and near deaths -- as well as an actual death (though it leads to reincarnation). The language is sometimes strong -- including "s--t," "damn," "pissed off," etc. -- but the messages about the nature of strength and the importance of perseverance, determination, and teamwork are clear. It's ideal for older tweens and young teens who are ready for more mature animated adventures.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written bynduns June 16, 2016

Hosoda, you keep doing what you do

Hosoda just keeps impressing me with his films, and this is no exception. The story seems really straight forward at first but takes many unexpected turns and... Continue reading
Parent of a 10-year-old Written bysterdun October 12, 2020
Kid, 11 years old April 10, 2017

Creepy, but really cool.

I have never seen a movie like this, and I thought it was really cool. It's actually pretty dark for an animated movie. It's about a boy who is taken... Continue reading
Teen, 17 years old Written byJohn A. July 14, 2019

Rated 12A (moderate violence, brief bloody moments, threat).

SEX/NUDITY - None. VIOLENCE/GORE - There are sequences of animated/stylized moderate violence throughout, including heavy punches and kicks to various parts of... Continue reading

What's the story?

THE BOY AND THE BEAST is an animated Japanese fantasy about an orphaned 9-year-old boy, Ren (voiced by Aoi Miyazaki), who would rather take to the streets of Tokyo than move in with distant relatives. Grieving, he wanders the streets of the city's Shibuya district (reminiscent of Times Square); while walking in dark alleys, he ends up stumbling into an alternate universe called Jutengai, which is filled with speaking "beasts." A huge bear-like warrior called Kumatetsu (Koji Yakusho) intrigues Ren, who asks to learn Kumatetsu's fighting skills. The warrior takes Ren on an apprentice, renaming him Kyuta (translates as "nine," the boy's age at the time), but the two are so strong-willed that they spend most of their time bickering -- until they finally find their rhythm and for years spar, eat, and live together. But when Kyuta is 17 (now voiced by Shota Sometani), he begins to feel a pull back to the human world. He starts traveling there more often and eventually meets a a sweet girl who teaches him to read. Back in Jutengai, Kumatetsu must prepare for a important battle to decide whether he or his rival will be the next lord of the kingdom. Kyuta, caught between two worlds, must ultimately decide whether he's a human or a beast.

Is it any good?

Fabulously voice-acted and featuring lovably flawed characters, this is a touching animated story about an orphaned boy who's raised by a warrior beast. Although it takes a while to establish Kyuta and Kumatetsu's uniquely comical, bickering relationship, their mentor-mentee rapport eventually grows into something quite sweet and powerful. Director Mamoru Hosoda has created a coming-of-age tale that's epic, gorgeously animated, and emotional. While too mature for most single-digit-aged viewers, older tweens and teens (especially those familiar with subtitled movies) will connect with Kyuta and enjoy how he not only learns from Kumatetsu, but teaches him, too.

One of the best sequences in the movie is when Kyuta and Kumatetsu, along with a monk-like pig and a wise-cracking monkey, visit the lords of various realms to discover the true meaning of strength, only to find that each has his own definition of the word. Kumatetsu is a bulky behemoth who thinks he doesn't need any advice, but of course he -- also an orphan who taught himself everything -- does, just as Kyuta needs a family. Once a teenager, Kyuta's forays back into the human world are heart-tugging as he develops a friendship (with a hint of romance) with the lovely Kaede (Suzu Hirose). Longing to belong somewhere but feeling stuck between both worlds, Kyuta/Ren is the kind of protagonist audiences will love.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about whether the language and violence are necessary to the story of The Boy and the Beast. Do you perceive the violence differently when it takes place in the human world than the beast world? Why? What's the impact of media violence on kids?

  • Do you think any of the characters are role models? How does Kyuta demonstrate the value of teamwork and perseverance? Why are those important character strengths?

  • Some people think any animated film is OK for even very young children, but is that the case here? Why are the themes in this story more appropriate for older tweens and teens?

  • Discuss the appeal of Japanese animated films. How are they different from -- and similar to -- Hollywood-made animated movies? Which do you prefer, and why?

Movie details

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