Australian Council on Children and the Media

Boy and the Beast, The

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Not recommended under 10, parental guidance recommended 10-12 (themes, violence and scary scenes)

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Boy and the Beast, The
  • a review of Boy and the Beast, The completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 7 March 2016.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 10 Not recommended due to themes, violence and scary scenes
Children aged 10 to 12 Parental guidance recommended due to themes
Children aged 12 and over OK for this age group

About the movie

This section contains details about the movie, including its classification by the Australian Government Classification Board and the associated consumer advice lines.

Name of movie: Boy and the Beast, The
Classification: PG
Consumer advice lines: Mild animated violence and coarse language
Length 119 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

The Boy and the Beast is an animated Japanese film which is being screened in both sub-titled and dubbed versions. It tells the story of a lonely 9-year-old orphan boy named Ren (voiced by Aoi Miyazaki) who prefers to wander the dangerous streets of Tokyo than live with the relatives who are his legal guardians. While walking the streets alone one night, Ren discovers the entrance to an alternate universe named Jutengai which contains many beast-like creatures. Among these beasts is a warrior bear named Kumatetsu (Koji Yakusho).

Ren admires the fighting skills he sees Kumatetsu display, and asks to learn from the warrior. Kumatetsu proceeds to take Ren under his wing as an apprentice, despite the fact that their personalities clash heavily and much of their time together is spent arguing over small issues. Eventually, the two establish a harmonious relationship and live together for many years.

At the age of 17, Ren ‘Kyuta’ (now voiced by Shota Sometani) begins to feel drawn to the human universe once more. He begins to visit sporadically, but eventually meets a kind-hearted girl called Kaede with whom he enjoys spending time. Torn between his potential relationship with Kaede and his friendship with Kumatetsu and life as a warrior, Ren must decide between living as a human or as a beast.

Themesinfo

Children and adolescents may react adversely at different ages to themes of crime, suicide, drug and alcohol dependence, death, serious illness, family breakdown, death or separation from a parent, animal distress or cruelty to animals, children as victims, natural disasters and racism. Occasionally reviews may also signal themes that some parents may simply wish to know about.

The supernatural; good versus evil; being an orphan; relationships

Use of violenceinfo

Research shows that children are at risk of learning that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution when violence is glamourised, performed by an attractive hero, successful, has few real life consequences, is set in a comic context and / or is mostly perpetrated by male characters with female victims, or by one race against another.

Repeated exposure to violent content can reinforce the message that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution. Repeated exposure also increases the risks that children will become desensitised to the use of violence in real life or develop an exaggerated view about the prevalence and likelihood of violence in their own world.

There is some violence in this movie including:

  • There are many physical fights between characters. Punches are thrown and characters bleed (e.g. from the nose) as a result.
  • Weapons such as swords and katanas are used in fights – one character has a katana stuck in his chest with blood being shown around the wound, but he is later seen in hospital and recovering well.
  • There are explosions in one of the cities – no one is injured, but property is destroyed.

Material that may scare or disturb children

Under fiveinfo

Children under five are most likely to be frightened by scary visual images, such as monsters, physical transformations.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children under the age of five, including the following:

  • There are scary beast-like creatures in Ren’s alternate universe. Kumatetsu is a large bear with glowing red eyes but is not dangerous or threatening to Ren.
  • At one point, Ren fights the ‘darkness’ – he is feeling alone and overwhelmed, and thus develops a vacuum within his heart that threatens to swallow him. A friend nearby calms Ren down and prevents this from happening.

Aged five to eightinfo

Children aged five to eight will also be frightened by scary visual images and will also be disturbed by depictions of the death of a parent, a child abandoned or separated from parents, children or animals being hurt or threatened and / or natural disasters.

Children in this age group may be disturbed by some of the above-mentioned scenes and by the following:

  • Aged only nine, Ren is an orphan, and chooses to live at risk on the streets instead of with his legal guardians
  • Kumatetsu decides to allow himself to die and be reincarnated as a deity (taking the form of a sword, utilised by Ren to fight against an enemy).

Aged eight to thirteeninfo

Children aged eight to thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic threats and dangers, violence or threat of violence and / or stories in which children are hurt or threatened.

Younger children in this age group may be disturbed by some of the above-mentioned scenes.

Over thirteeninfo

Children over the age of thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic physical harm or threats, molestation or sexual assault and / or threats from aliens or the occult.

Nothing of concern

Product placement

The following products are displayed or used in this movie:

  • Starbucks

Sexual references

None of concern

Nudity and sexual activity

There is some partial nudity and mild sexual activity in this movie, including:

  • Ren and Kaede hold hands and embrace at one point. They are romantically interested in each other, but no overtly sexual content is seen
  • Ren’s buttocks are shown in some scenes, when he is wearing traditional Japanese attire known as fundoshi.

Use of substances

None of concern

Coarse language

There is some use of coarse language, including:

  • ‘shit’ ; ‘damn’; ‘what the hell’
  • Insults such as ‘idiot’; ‘cocky brat’

In a nutshell

The Boy and the Beast is a touching story about a young boy’s journey into adulthood, and the process by which he learns about relationships, responsibility, and morality. Ren transforms from a lonely and angry child into a young man who cares deeply for others, and is willing to make sacrifices in order to help them.

The film’s story and themes make it more suited to older children and there are some violent scenes and scary characters which are likely to disturb younger viewers. The film is being screened in both dubbed and sub-titled versions – the sub-titles may present difficulties for younger viewers. At 119 minutes, the film is also rather long for younger children.

Messages from this movie that parents may wish to discuss with their children include:

  • The importance of not judging people before getting to know them.
  • The nature of family not necessarily being based on blood relationships.
  • The importance of learning respect, asking for help when needed and listening to individuals who have greater knowledge and wisdom. 
  • How strength of will and determination can enable individuals to accomplish things they previously thought were impossible.

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