Mamoru Hosoda’s New Film Belle (竜とそばかすの姫) was released this July.
I went see a film theater to watch it.
Actually, my impression is “half-and-half”.
For other viewers, some people say good and others not.
I’ll introduce the reason in my review with summary here.※ This article includes spoiler, so if you are like No Spoiler, please visit here after watching the anime
Summary of Belle (The Dragon and the Freckled Princess)
Suzu is a high-school girl who lives in the countryside in Japan with her father.
She loved singing but couldn’t sing anymore because of the shock of losing her mother when she was a child.
What she could do was just writing music.
One day, her best friend Hiro-chan invites her to a virtual world called “U” where 5 billions of people come together.
She makes As, which is a kind of avatar of oneself in the world of U and she named it “Belle”.
Only in this world of U, Suzu could sing a song freely without caring anything somehow.
Song she sang made her famous instantly in U and got so many followers.
Then, when she puts on a big concert, a black dragon-like As called “Ryu” suddenly appears.
He was wanted by vigilante corps.
The concert became chasm because of the battle of Ryu vs vigilante corps.
Belle was first surprised but she came to know that he was suffered physically and mentally.
Ryu rejects Belle first but her song opens his mind little by little.
Review of Belle (The Dragon and the Freckled Princess)
To tell you the truth, my impression on Belle is so so.
Not bad but not like great.
I can say animation was beautiful and the song was good.
But the story was so so to me.
It was not difficult story and I think I could understand what this anime film want to say but couldn’t agree with some parts.
I’ll introduce here with key points
Action of Mother of Suzu
The reason Suzu has not been able to sing was death of her mother.
Mother of Suzu drawn when she plunged into swollen river to save a girl left behind.
Suzu claimed her mother not to go, not leaving her alone, but she replied “There is a time we have to go”.
I got a bit strange emotion when other adults who also saw the scene did nothing and were just standing there.
It must take a big courage to plunge into the swollen river but at least people could do something but what they did was just standing there.
This scene brought me back to the real world.
I know the intention of making Suzu’s mother as a contrast with other adults who do nothing but I felt adults in real world at least do something, not just standing.
Song of Belle
When Suzu appeared in the world of U, she suddenly sang a song.
She sang very well.
But I felt like this is an anime film when I watched it.
I wandered if someone who lost confidence could suddenly sing very well even though it is just an avator, not real her.
If she becomes a good singer little by little by regaining confidence, I can understand.
But she could sang a song very well from the first somehow.
Song is very important part in Belle, so I understand they focused on the quality but it brought back to the real world.
Animation was beautiful and good.
Interesting point was the animation was mixed with that of Japanese anime, CG and that of 3D Disney-like anime in US or Europe.
In real world in this film such as life in school or town, the animation was that of Japanese anime we familiar to.
In the world of U, the touch changes into mix of 3D and CG.
If you watched Summer Wars before, you can imagine how it is but more sophisticated and beautiful this time.
Plus, at some scenes, I felt like they were as if from the 3D animation of Disney.
I found that Mamoru Hosoda was inspired by “Beauty and the Beast” after came back home and checked online.
I think this is the first time he made this type of mixed animation in his all films.
Brandishing Sword of Justice
No police in the world of U, but to keep the world safe, vigilante corps was made.
They take action according to their justice but sometimes too much.
Vigilante corps became news in Japan, actually.
Ordinary people who were strict about rules during COVID-19 warned people who didn’t follow the rules.
That became a kind of controversial.
Not only the case of COVID-19 but in some situation people force their justice on others.
I don’t say which is good or bad here.
Certainly drawing the line is sometimes difficult.
Actually, I brought back to real world again when I kept watching the action of vigilante corps in U.
Because their justice was just beyond the line, rather it was injustice, I felt.
I know they wanted to show us there are people in the real world who force their value on us but I felt like this vigilante corps in the world of U is too much and that brought me back to the real world.
Reveal Real Identity Online
Suzu needed to reveal herself to save Ryu.
But thanks to a guise of Belle, she could sing and had confidence.
She also got so many followers, so it took a big courage to reveal her real identity in the public.
Her childhood friend Shinobu-kun told her “If you want to be trusted, you have to reveal yourself”.
That’s certainly true.
People believe real person rather than those who are anonymous.
This part also reflects online of our real world.
Both good and bad, I felt.
Anonymous is not a bad thing and convenient but it also hides your real.
Song By Kaho Nakamura
Kaho Nakamura is a singer song writer.
Some say she is a genius of music.
Mamoru Hosoda used a singer as a voice actor of main character.
It was interesting.
I understand if they use a professional voice actor for Suzu an a professional singer for Belle but one person plays both roles.
She had no experience as a voice actor, either.
Mamoru Hosoda says he was looking for someone who can play both roles and attracted by her song.
Song plays an important role in this film.
Song of Kaho Nakamura in Belle
Suzu reveals herself in the world of U to save Ryu and sing a song.
Ryu finally believes her.
Although it was a virtual world, Suzu could sing a song.
Ryu had been abused by his father in real world, she found.
And she went rescue him alone and stopped his father to abuse him.
There are arguments for an against about this ending.
Why she went alone and why she used bus as it was not fast enough?
It is not easy like that to stop real abusing.
I understand above reviews of viewers as I also felt like that.
If I pick up other point here, that’s about “revealing identity”.
Now we can hide many things online.
As I said, it has pros and cons.
But some people use the anonymity for attacking people.
There are cases that leads to death.
And you need to reveal yourself first if you really want to be trusted.
It needs a big courage and risks yourself.
In the end, not only in a virtual world but also in the real world, Suzu took action and met him Ryu.
Risking her life (identity) and saved someone, that was just like her mother.
Summary and Review of Belle By Mamoru Hosoda
Animation and song were good.
But the story was not that sophisticated like I imagined before watching it.
That’s my impression.
I think if I were a junior-high school student, I could enjoy the film.
If you don’t care about the details, you can enjoy the film, I think.
The touch of summer was good like that of Summer Wars and I felt summer has come here in Japan!
Belle (The Dragon and the Freckled Princess)(竜とそばかすの姫)