Mamoru Hosoda has become a force to be reckoned with in the world of Japanese film. Responsible for films like Digimon Adventure: Our War Game and One Piece Movie: Baron Omatsuri and the Secret Island, mainstream cinema goers didn’t really get to know him until The Girl Who Leapt Through Time debuted. It didn’t take long for critics to cry out that he was the next Hayao Miyazaki, something that seemed to happen every time a new, fresh director emerged from the shadows. As was the case with most of those other directors, assigning Hosoda the label of “next Miyazaki” was ultimately a disservice to both him and the Studio Ghibli powerhouse.
The last two Hosoda films, Summer Wars and The Wolf Children, were both stories about the power of family. The former took a look at the bigger picture of what a family is, while the latter was a more personal story about a single mother’s experience raising two children.
Mamoru Hosoda’s latest, The Boy and the Beast, is yet another tale about family, and in some ways is interesting as a companion piece to The Wolf Children, but it’s also more than just that. It’s a martial arts film. It’s a coming of age story. It’s a tale about coming to terms with the people around you.
It also happens to be a damn fine film.