6.5/10 From Oscar nominee Mamoru Hosoda, this Japanese anime was released in its original form with subtitles (the version I saw) or dubbed over with English speaking voice actors. I always go for authenticity and have no problems with subtitles so that’s how I chose to view this movie. “Belle” has some creative ideas and beautiful imagery with amazing music but falls short in other areas with some common clichés. The story follows a plain, shy girl who has an alternate personality online as a singer called Belle. This online world is referred to as “U”, which could be closest compared to the Metaverse where you can interact with anyone in the world through virtual reality. As for what works, with the rise of virtual reality and the Metaverse, this concept doesn’t feel too outside of the realm of possibility in the coming decade. Feeling insecure in real life but having another chance to reinvent yourself online is something that already exists but surely will even more so in the coming years as technology advances. Since our main protagonist is a singer in “U”, the music and vocal performance are really fantastic here. Most of the visuals look stunningly beautiful with its bright colors and sweeping cinematography. The movie has some heartfelt emotion to it that will keep the audience invested with its characters and the struggles they face. The Japanese voice actors are well cast and the pacing moves along at a solid pace, with something entertaining always happening. As for its shortfalls, there are some clichés with the plot. Our protagonist has a deceased parent, which is something nearly every Disney movie does and it is the most tiring cliché in animation today. Speaking of Disney, the movie also can’t help but draw some comparisons to “Beauty and the Beast”. The protagonist is named Belle, a boy she meets in “U” is known as “the beast” since that is what his online avatar resembles and there is a romantic spark between the two of them. The beast’s hideout is even in a castle, not too dissimilar from the castle in “Beauty and the Beast”. While “Belle” is inspired by and based upon “Beauty and the Beast”, to take so directly from it in some ways and then completely change everything else about it felt like an odd mixture that doesn’t quite blend. Making this an original story and taking out the “Beauty and the Beast” references would have strengthened the movie. Despite most of the animation looking gorgeous, there were a few exceptions that really took me out of the movie. In some wide shots, you would see the main characters looking normal but all of the background characters that were further away, were given no faces. It was as if the film makers didn’t have enough money in the budget to finish animating and needed to cut costs somehow so they literally didn’t animate characters’ faces if they are far enough away, despite being totally visible to the audience. It felt cheap, lazy and looked horrible, like something out of an animated movie from 30 years ago when background characters wouldn’t even move when the main characters were moving. This will attract people who are into Japanese anime, who most likely won’t mind the over the top reactions that characters have and the issues with the faceless animation but mainstream audiences won’t flock to this one. If you want to broaden your horizons and check this out, you may very well enjoy the music, relatable virtual reality universe and some of the gorgeous visual effects. Worth a view if you keep your expectations in check.

#AcrossThe”U”Niverse / #SavedByTheBelle / #IntoTheBelleyOfTheBeast / #MusicByTheBeastyBoys / #TheHateUGive / #VirtualSignaling

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s