Studio Ghibli has been the powerhouse of Japanese animation for decades now. However, with the on/off departure of Hayao Miyazaki and many of their key players reaching retirement age, the market has opened up to a new wave of talented animators, creatives and directors. Mamoru Hosoda, who was originally helming Howl’s Moving Castle, is one of the most talented of his generation. Summer Wars and The Girl Who Leapt Through Time were two of the best anime of the last decade. His latest, The Boy and The Beast, continues his hot streak.

On the run from the police, Ren, a young runaway living on the streets of Shibuya, stumbles upon an alternative universe populated by beasts. Two great warriors, the kind and much-loved Iôzen and the gruff and reckless Kumatetsu, vie to become the next Lord. When Kumatetsu reluctantly takes on Ren (who he renames Kyûta) as an apprentice, they both must learn from each other in order to fulfil their destinies.

The Boy and The Beast is a powerful, entertaining and moving anime. Tackling universal issues such as growing-up, loss and loneliness, Hosoda wraps an important message within a magical and fascinating fable. It has something for everyone. It’s beautifully drawn and animated, with a central story which chimes true. The Boy and The Beast is one of the best anime you’ll see this year and cements Hosoda’s claim to be the heir to Miyazaki’s dynasty.

The Boy and The Beast is in cinemas from Friday.