There’s no theatrical feature coming from Studio Ghibli this summer (or possibly ever again), but that doesn’t mean the Japanese movie landscape is going to be completely devoid of lovingly made, family-friendly animated fare. Anime fans around the globe were excited to hear that Mamoru Hosoda, director of Summer Wars and Wolf Children, has a new film set to premiere this July, and now The Boy and the Beast has not only a vocal cast, but two brand-new trailers!
As announced at the end of last year, Hosoda’s new project takes place in a world where Tokyo’s Shibuya neighborhood is linked to a realm called Shibutengai, which is populated with humanoid monsters. One of these monsters, the bear-like and bellicose swordsman Kumatetsu, happens to meet a young boy who’s been separated from his parents. Bestowing the name Kyuta on him, Kumatetsu decides to take him under his wing and train him to be a fighter, much to the surprise of his monster pals who can’t understand why he’s decided to take a human on as an apprentice.
Kumatetsu doesn’t look to be the gentlest teacher though. As a matter of fact, when the pair first meet, by way of greeting he gruffly grabs the timid boy by the chin, growling, “Hey, are you alive or dead?”
Kyuta turns out to be tougher than he looks, though, as the newly released trailer shows that he’s up for whatever Spartan drilling Kumatetsu throws at him
Still, it looks like Kyuta’s training process is going to be a lengthy one, given the fact that two different voice actors have been recruited to play the boy at different ages. Kyuta’s younger voice will be provided by Aoi Miyazaki, who also voiced Hana, the mother of Wolf Children’s titular lycanthrope kids.
Once Kyuta gets a little older, though, voice actor Shota Sometani, who was also heard in Wolf Children as Professor Tanabe, takes over the role.
Voicing Kumatetsu is Koji Yakusho, a name that may not be particularly familiar to anime fans. Yakusho rarely does voice work, but has appeared in several samurai television series, as well as the film 13 Assassins. Yakusho is perhaps best known to Wetsern audiences, however, for playing the lead in 1996’s Shall We Dance?
▼ The Boy and the Beast’s 30-second preview
At a recent press event, Miyazaki said she was overjoyed to once again be part of one of Hosoda’s projects. The voice actress also revealed that initially she was extremely nervous about what kind of voice to use for Kyuta, but managed to find the right one during the scenes in which the boy argues with his monstrous mentor.
“The appeal of Hosoda’s movies,” the voice actress said, “is that even when the setting is unrealistic, there is always something relatable about them, and you can feel empathy for the characters.”
The Boy and the Beast opens in Japanese theaters on July 11.