Mamoru Hosoda is one of the most prominent film directors and animators of our current time. Beyond his talent, he landed with some of the most outstanding animation studios of our time. Hosoda Initially worked for the giant Toei Animation; he worked on many well-known gateway anime to Americans. We’re talking Dragon Ball Z, Slam Dunk, Sailor Moon, and Digimon. However, his big director break would come in the major successful Digimon: The Movie in 2000, which also had a North American release that was majorly successful. The film made 3.3 times its production budget of five million dollars, so roughly around $16.5 million worldwide. Ultimately, he would leave Toei, work for Madhouse, and start Studio Chizu. His fame would grow as a director, writer, and animator, and that’s how today we get the great films he makes, such as Wolf Children, The Boy and the Beast, Mirai, and Belle, just released this weekend.
Belle is a film with many of today’s issues and some of our old issues wrapped into one ball of slice of life. It’s a film for everyone, especially family. The film takes on trauma and the escape into the internet or online personas in today’s day and age. We have YouTubers, VTubers, Streamers, and many other internet content influencers. Who are these people, though, and what do they deal with in their daily lives? Let’s not forget big corporations that put their money behind these people as sponsors and what effect that can have on them. The main character is Suzu; we quickly see her childhood, what she has gone through moving into high school, and then her subscribing to an internet app for AI personas.
The film is directed and written by Hosoda-san, of course, and it’s another masterpiece from him and Studio Chizu. Let’s not forget he enlisted a little help from the top studios too: MAPPA, Sunrise, WhiteFox Tatsunoko, Madhouse, Cartoon Saloon, and more. In addition, the film has some of the biggest production companies and distributors, such as Producer Genki Kawamura and Toho Company. We also must especially thank GKIDS for the North American release. With these great names and companies, there isn’t a way for a film to not be great, which is why the film has been nominated for many awards.
Lastly, but not to be forgotten, this film has extensive music competent to it. Usually, the music is just an accompanying part, but the music is paramount to the film. It’s such a grand and big scale and a soundtrack/OST that it will be a classic. We have Yuta Bandoh, Ludvig Forssell, Kaho Nakamura (Japanese Belle), Kylie McNeill (English Belle), Millennium Parade, London Voices, and more to thank for this. It’s currently on repeat as I write this review. Storytelling in anime is just some of the best storytelling ever known to man. Sorry to say that, but it’s true. While the film is a masterpiece, the climax calls out the humanity in all of us to sacrifice. I had to sit back and ask myself whether I would go to the lengths of Suzu. Probably not, and maybe that’s society’s failings and the internet today. Anime Pad gives Belle a 5 out of 5!