A charming and rather captivating anime from Hosoda Mamoru, The Boy and the Beast may break no new ground even within animation filmmaking, never mind filmmaking as a whole, but it makes up all it lacks in sheer spirit. And what a treat to witness such keen genre filmmaking, this being a rare action comedy in that it is suffused with artful compositions, and an acute mastery of a wide range of tones. Hosoda is not merely hip to the necessities of nailing the action sequences - which he does with aplomb, exploiting the spatial dynamics of these scenes to thrilling effect - or the comedy - again, handled with surety. The Boy and the Beast is a beautiful film, whose artistic prowess stretches far beyond its visuals, as seductive as they may be. It's a modest enterprise (as fully-formed as it is, Hosoda's world-building is in the same leagues as many children's anime TV productions), but one from which the maximum dramatic and artistic potential has been mined. The film takes an unexpected swerve - narratively, tonally, even visually - heading into the home stretch, which serves as a new source of inspiration for Hosoda. The last half hour expands upon the good work done before, and transforms it into great work, worthy of inclusion on any list of the finest film anime. Though the film loses some respect (from this writer, at least) for its near-total absence of prominent female characters. Nevertheless, for what it is, The Boy and the Beast is as watchable as it is commendable in its construction.