6 Anime Like Bakemono no Ko (The Boy and the Beast) [Recommendations]

It’s difficult to pinpoint what made Bakemono no Ko so special. From its oddball pairing of a beast man who becomes a father figure to a human child, to its surrealist blockbuster extravaganza of a climax, Bakemono captivated audiences around the world. And why not? With a Rotten Tomatoes score of 89%, Bakemono’s appeal transcends the boundaries of anime fandom. Since its release over a year ago, it would be understandable that fans might be clamoring for more. While we can’t convince its acclaimed director, Mamoru Hosoda, to work any faster, we might be able to curb your hunger for more supernatural coming of age tales with these 6 recommendations.

Similar Anime to Bakemono no Ko / Similar Anime to The Boy and the Beast

1. Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann (Gurren Lagann)

  • Episodes: 27
  • Aired: Apr 1, 2007 – Sep 30, 2007

Anybody who loved Bakemono’s showy spectacle of a final battle should immediately check out Gurren Lagann. The story follows Simon, a miner living in an underground city blocked off from the rest of the world, who works with the hope of acquiring delicious steaks. His best friend Kamina, has bigger dreams of one day escaping the city and following his father’s footsteps. As luck would have it, Simon discovers the key to an ancient artifact during the course of his daily mining routine. The two friends end up using the device to break free from the city and travel to the surface. There, they discover a conflict between other humans who live on the surface and the beastmen who suppress them. Simon and Kamina join the fight to free humanity from the shackles of oppression!

Every scene in Gurren Lagann explodes from the screen with a gut-punch to the senses. Every battle is a sight to behold, with conflicts that are preceded by speeches delivered with deliciously melodramatic aplomb, and concluded with a barrage of hyper-stylized face-smashing blows. This is a BIG story of big personalities, with a climax that’s so grand that we dare not say another word, lest we spoil what is considered one of the all-time great final battles in anime history.

Much like Bakemono, the real core of the story is found in the tale of Simon’s personal growth and how it influences the world around him. As with Ren in Bakemono, we follow Simon’s transition from an awkward child still struggling to find his place in the world, to an adult who finds himself in a new role he wasn’t sure he was meant to fill. It’s these scenes that are really the heart of Gurren Lagann, and watching Simon pull himself up and become the adult he was always meant to be is what pulls it all together.

Gurren Lagann DVD and Blu-ray box set trailer


2. Ookami Kodomo no Ame to Yuki (Wolf Children)

  • Episodes: 1 (movie)
  • Aired: Jul 21, 2012

Thankfully, fans who wanted another supernatural take on parenthood can just go back and check out Hosoda’s previous film! We begin this film following Hana, a college student who has recently fallen in love with a strange man by the name of Ookami. As it turns out, Ookami is in a bit of a hairy situation; he is, in fact, a werewolf! Thankfully, Hana looks past this issue, and the two end up marrying and having 2 beautiful children: the spirited Yuki and the more reserved Ame. Unfortunately, Ookami suddenly dies, leaving his wolf children without a parent who can teach them how to live in the world with their condition. Wanting to protect her children from the harsh realities of how they’d be treated in the city, Hana moves to the countryside where Yume and Ame can live freely.

Ookami Kodomo is largely about the sacrifices parents make for their children. Hosoda is a big fan of pairing humans together with otherworldly creatures in parental roles as a visual metaphor for the divide between different generations. While in Bakemono we saw an animal father raising a human child, here we see the role reversed with a human raising animal children. It’s a different take on roughly the same topic, so fans of Bakemono will find a lot to like here.

Wolf Children Official Trailer


3. Sakamichi no Apollon (Kids on the Slope)

  • Episodes: 12
  • Aired: Apr 13, 2012 - Jun 29, 2012

Moving away from the realms of fantasy for just a bit, we’d like to draw your attention to a more down-to-earth, coming-of-age tale in Sakamichi no Apollon. Taking place during the 1960s, this series focuses largely on the struggle of Kaoru Nishimi, a wealthy boy with very frail disposition who moves out to the countryside to live with his uncle. An introverted pianist, Kaoru has always needed to keep a certain level of order in his life, as too much stress causes his stomach to act up to the point where he can barely function. One such incident occurs on his first day of school, and a chance meeting with local ruffian Sentarou on the school rooftop introduces him to a whole new world, where he sees how life in chaos can still be fun. The two end up bonding over a shared love of jazz, and Kaoru’s life changes forever.

Those who specifically enjoyed the human world portions of Bakemono will find a lot to like in Sakamichi no Apollon. While their circumstances are quite different, both Ren and Kaoru find themselves as fish out of water, which forces them to re-evaluate their own values and what they consider to be a core part of their being. As a result of this displacement, both find a passion that they never knew they had within them: Ren for studying and learning to read, and Kaoru for this new, strangely alluring and chaotic style of music. It’s a great lazy afternoon watch.

Sakamichi no Apollon trailer


Any Anime Like The Boy and the Beast / Any Anime Like Bakemono no Ko ?

4. Ping Pong The Animation

  • Episodes: 11
  • Aired: Apr 11, 2014 – Jun 20, 2014

Those who desire a more realistic setting but would enjoy a more dynamic animation style needn’t look any further than Ping Pong. Broken and beaten by the world, Makoto “Smile” Tsukimoto forces himself to play ping pong in order to keep his friendship alive with the passionate Yutaka “Peco” Hoshino. Peco, who believes himself to be God’s gift to the sport, joins his high school’s ping pong team with every intent of going to and winning nationals. Unbeknownst to Peco, Smile is an incredible player who can beat any challenger who comes his way, but is forcing himself to play poorly to avoid destroying Peco’s hopes. Can the pair maintain their friendship once this comes out?

Don’t be turned away by Ping Pong’s angular, almost aggressively off-putting artstyle. It’s done all in service of Ping Pong’s insane animation. Bodies distort in desperation with every shot, as if everything they’ve ever worked towards depends on every exchange during a match... because it does. Antagonists like Kazama and Wenge have never taken a moment to reflect on why they play the game, and why it is they’re so intent on winning. These are characters who are still trying to find their place in the world, and like Ren of Bakemono, they eventually find their answers and their purpose. It’s a powerful coming-of-age story and will be sure to delight anyone who enjoyed Ren’s story of self-growth.

Ping Pong The Animation Coming Soon Trailer


5. Sen to Chihiro no Kamikakushi (Spirited Away)

  • Episodes: 1 (movie)
  • Aired: Jul 20, 2001

Here’s a familiar title for anyone who has even a passing interest in anime. Produced by the world Renowned Studio Ghibli, Spirited Away is an otherworldly story of a young girl by the name of Chihiro, who is traveling with her parents to their new home. Along the way, she and her family end up exploring an eerily isolated amusement park. Chihiro’s parents discover some delicious food, and after chowing down on it, they end up transforming into pigs! Chihiro, isolated and alone, discovers this amusement park is a gathering place for a society of spirits. In order to save her parents, she takes on work at a spirit bath house, where she works for the witch Yubaba, who promises to return her parents back to normal in exchange for her services.

If you’ve somehow missed out on seeing Spirited Away all these years, now’s as good a time as any to go back and watch the only anime to ever win an Academy Award. The real core of this film comes from Chihiro’s personal growth. While we never see her make the full transition into adulthood like Ren in Bakemono, Chihiro is forced by her unique situation to start taking responsibility for her life. She goes from being a timid, scared little girl to a much more confident, self-assured person through the strange new experiences she is thrust into.

Really, it’s the lavish visuals that make the film. There’s no scene that is lacking creative visuals and vibrant colors. This is the same kind of fluid, elegant animation style that you see in Bakemono. Watch as Chihiro washes a giant goo monster and the chaos that ensues, or as Chihiro sits on a train gliding across the sea. It’s a beautiful film that you’ll want to re-watch multiple times just to see what details you can spot in every scene.

Spirited Away Official Trailer


6. Hotarubi no Mori e

  • Episodes: 1 (movie)
  • Aired: Sep 17, 2011

It’s almost like a fairy tale; a young girl by the name of Hotaru Takegawa gets lost while exploring the forest outside her uncle’s home. A mysterious white-haired man by the name of Gin discovers her, and shows her the way out. His only request is that she must not touch him or else he’ll disappear. She returns the following day to say thanks, and they spend the afternoon together exploring the forest, playing by the pond and discovering different forest spirits. Hotaru enjoys her visit so much that she comes to see Gin every day for the rest of the summer and their relationship develops into being more than just friends.

While Bakemono portrayed the parental bonds between a spirit and a human, Hotarubi no Mori e shows a more romantic take on the relations between these different groups. Gin’s curse is a beautiful allegory for this tension that builds between the two characters. They so desperately want to be a part of one another’s world, but they know the moment they take that step, it will all be gone in an instant. It’s very similar to the relationship that develops between Ren and Kaede, where the two come from completely different worlds and yearn to understand each other but can’t. It’s a short film, but for those who enjoyed watching the subtle love story unfold in Bakemono, Hotarubi’s heartbreaking tale will leave you in tears.

Hotarubi no Mori e trailer


Final Thoughts

It’ll be a while until we see Hosoda return to the director’s chair, but hopefully these recommendations will keep your hunger for more at bay. Did we miss anything? Think you might have something better in mind? No problem! Just leave a comment below and help us out!

Matt Knodle

Writer

Author: Matt Knodle

I come from Indiana, where I grew up near a video rental shop that proudly stated “The widest selection of anime in the state”, setting me on a course to enjoy as much anime as possible. I’ve devoted myself to over-analyzing various sports anime and video games probably more than they were ever intended. I currently co-host a weekly sports anime fan podcast called KoshienCast with my good friend, Matt.

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