Bakemono no Ko is a 2015 film written and directed by Hosoda Mamoru. We talked about him yesterday with Ookami Kodomo. I guess people just want to see me look at his films this year. So, how does this compare to his other two films I’ve reviewed? Will it be the first bad one? The best one yet? Exactly in between the other two? Let’s find out, shall we?
We open with some exposition about the world of beasts and how two certain ones, Iouzan Kumatetsu, are the top candidates to become the successor of the retiring Grand Master. We cut to a young boy, Ren, evading the authorities and living off of the street. He’s resting when he encounters a strange, cloaked beast. He’s invited to become the man’s disciple and proceeds to follow him right into the realm of beasts.
As usual, let’s start with the elements that weren’t done as well as they could have been. First off, the reason that Ren runs away is pretty vague. Yeah, we know that his mother died but there’s nothing to give us any sense of why he doesn’t want to live with the relatives who offer to take him in. We also have the whole return to the human world later on in the film. Honestly, there’s not much reason for it. Everything that happens because of it could have been done just as well, if not better, while keeping the focus on the beast realm. As a result, a lot of it feels like filler.
That being said, there are quite a few positives about the film. It handles the whole concept of Ren being essentially adopted by Kumatetsu pretty well. It’s very good at foreshadowing important plot points and following through with them. I also do like the way it connects Ren with Kumatetsu and ties their stories together.
This is much like Ookami Kodomo in that it has some characters who are interesting and have strong dynamics. In this case, Kumatetsu, Ren & Ichirouhiko. Aside from them, it has a bunch of characters who are kind of flat. It tries to do something more with some of them, notably Kaede, Iouzan & Hyakushuubou but the attempts aren’t particularly well executed. For example, the attempt to make Hyakushuubou more complex comes down to a single scene where he gets uncharacteristically mad. Kaede also suffers from the same problem Hana’s character had in Ookami Kodomo. She far too readily accepts the strange events that are happening. The big difference is that Hana was generally interesting in spite of that whereas Kaede is just your archetypical “good woman.”
This is one area where I’ll keep giving Studio Chizu a lot of credit, their artwork is really good. The beasts have interesting designs. The backgrounds are good. The climactic action sequences are dynamic and have some superb visuals.
The best performances in this film come from Yakusho Koji, Sometani Shota & Miyano Mamoru. That being said, there are no poor performances. Everyone in the main cast is competent. The music was composed by the same Gent we talked about yesterday with Ookami Kodomo, Takagi Masakatsu. His soundtrack in this film is just as good as his soundtrack for that film was.
There might be a little bit. When Ren is raised in the Beast World he basically has three dads. Although the film never extrapolates on just how close their relationships with each other are, there are indications that they’re really close. So, make of that what you will.
Bakemono no Ko is about on par with Ookami Kodomo. It has different narrative problems, but ones that are about as damaging. It also has charm and is an interesting film overall. So, my final rating for it is going to also be a solid 7/10. Tomorrow I’ll keep film festival week going with Stranger: Mukou Hadan.