Date: 2022 January 27 20:32
Posted by Joe
Mamoru Hosoda's latest movie Belle hits cinemas across the UK and Ireland from Friday 4th February 2022. Thanks to the good folks at anime company Anime Limited we've been able to see the movie in advance.
You can find out if the movie is any good by finding screening near you and book tickets via www.bellefilm.co.uk. Or you could read on to find out our thoughts on this fantastic movie with our or own review.
Belle is the latest cinematic offering from director Mamoru Hosoda. Being a prominent director you may have seen his other films which include Summer Wars, Wolf Children, The Girl Who Leapt Through Time, The Boy and the Beast and Mirai.
Belle tells the story of Suzu, an average rural Japanese school girl. She enters the virtual world of U and becomes Belle a hugely popular diva. At its heart, this is Hosoda's reinterpretation of Beauty and the Beast, but it's not just that, it offers so much more.
The first thing you might notice is the parallels between Belle and Summer Wars. Both exist in a virtual world, with commentary on social media and online life. Both have similar themes of the avatars and the masks you create in virtual worlds. There are also monsters quite similar to those we've encountered before in previous works such as Wolf Children and The Boy and the Beast. This makes it feel thematically familiar, like wearing that well worn coat, or snugly blanket.
Although the familiar elements make this movie uniquely Hosoda, Belle doesn't feel like it's the same elements just hashed together again. In this movie, he takes these familiar elements and executes them to a new level. The writing is particularly tight, immersing you in the story and the characters. He gives us a large cast of supporting characters, both in the real and virtual world. This helps add to the sense of realism and wonder. There's a good helping of comic relief too.
Animation wise the movie is exactly what you've come to know and love. The character designs all seem very familiar. The locations used are all clearly based on real places and match the lavish background art of the scenery we've all come to expect from his previous films. While she is in the world of U, Belle appears to be more 3D-cgi based animation, which actually helps emphasise the virtual aspect and separates the real world from the virtual one. Everything feels very big budget.
The sound track to this movie really elevates its. As a core aspect of the movie is about Suzu being unable to sing in the real world, they've really gone all out with the composition and music. We've yet to hear the English language dub, but are impressed to find out that they're re-recoding all the songs in English along with the supervision of the Japanese production team. The sound track is one of those instant must buys. I'd expect that when it has a home video release they'll include the sound track in a special/collector's edition as that it's just something you can keep listening to.
There are many twists with this digital fairy tale, some you'll see and others you won't immediately expect. It's the unexpected aspect that caught me off guard. It's not something I was counting on in a Hosoda movie and that's what makes it so exciting. While others could be content in retreating the same themes and elements, Belle brings us the familiar coming of age story, but with an unexpected twist.
If I was limited to describing Belle in one world for a quote on poster or packaging or whatever, I'd just submit "perfection".
Just go out and catch this film! You won't regret it. It's an audio visual treat, and Studio Chizu at its finest.
This is one of those rare movies that is destined to go down as an anime classic. I can image people still watching and enjoying it in 10 or 20 years, singing its praises. It also leaves me wondering, what can Hosoda do next to top this?!
Belle hits cinemas across the UK and Ireland from Friday 4th February 2022. It's distributed by anime company Anime Limited. You can find a screening near you and book tickets via www.bellefilm.co.uk.