"Belle is a beautiful film with a touching and relatable story"
THE "IMDB" PREMISE:
"Suzu is a shy high school student living in a rural village. For years, she has only been a shadow of herself. But when she enters "U", a massive virtual world, she escapes into her online persona as Belle, a globally-beloved singer."
OUR [TO THE POINT] REVIEW:
What happens when you mix the story of Beauty and the Beast with the whimsical oddness of anime? You get one of the most visually inventive, absolutely gorgeous, and emotionally resonant anime films; while simultaneously telling a beautiful original story. Belle is written and directed by Mamoru Hosoda; a filmmaker who always seems to have a fascination revolving around virtual worlds (Summer Wars, Digimon). So it's no surprise to see that Belle includes one, however the story doesn't really revolve around the virtual world as much as you'd expect. It's there and is still a big part of the story but this virtual world (called "U") is only the setup for what ends up being a very moving narrative about overcoming grief and depression after the loss of a loved one.
I didn't watch a single trailer going into this movie so the emotional storyline really floored me and I immediately was all for our lead character Suzu and wanting to see her succeed.
While not the main focus of the movie, the world of "U" is absolutely gorgeous and combines 2d and 3d animation so perfectly and makes for some of the most eye-popping set-pieces I've seen in a long, long time. And good LORD is the music in this movie top-notch! Expect to be blown away by the incredible animation during the musical sequences because it especially blew me away.
It’s best to keep in mind that Belle is still an anime and has its fair share of anime tropes. None of those truly bothered me though because the story was well executed. The visuals were astounding, the music - catchy, emotional, and riveting, and our lead character one worth rooting for. I do wish the supporting cast was a little more memorable in comparison to Suzu.
The Beauty and the Beast connection is light and almost unnecessary by the time we get to the end, but I appreciate the subversion that I thought was more than satisfying.
Overall, Belle is a beautiful film with a touching and relatable story that has some of the best visuals and music choices I've witnessed in anime to date! I highly recommend checking Belle out in a theater near you while you still have a chance.