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Animated wonders abound in "The Boy and the Beast," a beautifully drawn fantasy tale by Japanese anime filmmaker Mamoru Hosoda.

Ren is a 9-year-old boy who,¬†after his divorced mother's death, runs away from his relatives to live on the Tokyo streets. He encounters instead Kumatetsu, a bearlike humanoid warrior who leads Ren — rechristened Kyuta ("kyu" being the Japanese word for "nine") — to the realm of the beasts.

It's there where Kumatetsu aims to challenge the lionlike Iozen in battle to become the kingdom's new leader. But Kumatetsu is too undisciplined to mount a challenge, so the retiring lord suggests he take on an apprentice to become a proper master, and Kumatetsu chooses Kyuta to train.

Hosada nicely balances the magical aspects of Kumatetsu's world with the realities of this one, as Ren/Kyuta learns life lessons in both. Hosada also serves up a visually stunning finale, an all-out battle between good and evil below, above and on the Tokyo streets.

'The Boy and the Beast'

Opening Friday, March 4, at the Broadway Centre Cinemas; rated PG-13 for some violence and language; screened both in Japanese with subtitles and dubbed in English; 119 minutes.