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All I can say is WOW! Studio Chizu’s BELLE is a film that I didn’t know I would love this much. I knew this film was going to be good, but it incredibly exceeded my expectations. Those three sentences should tell you how the rest of the review will be because it’s that good.
Belle was written and directed by the amazing Mamoru Hosoda (Mirai, The Girl Who Leapt Through Time, The Boy and the Beast). The film is about a high schooler named Suzu, a shy girl and afraid to open up, but when she enters the virtual world U she becomes Belle, a beautiful and an amazing singer. While in U, Suzu/Belle meets a mysterious character named Dragon, who is on the run from vigilantes, and she will do whatever she can to help him. Suzu will go through an emotional journey, break out of her shell, and discover who she truly is.
Mamoru Hosoda knocked it out the park when it came to writing BELLE. Suzu is an amazingly written character, and seeing her growth throughout the film was emotional. I like the inspiration of Beauty and the Beast in the film, and I thought it would be the whole story, but nope! The twists and turns in this movie was done right, even the audience in the theater were vocal because of how surprised they were. Also, loved some of the comedy as well, it got some genuine chuckles out of me.
Belle is a great story, and I was thinking about it a lot on my way home. Bravo Mamoru Hosoda, bravo.
I watched BELLE subbed, but honestly I didn’t have a preference because a lot of the promotion of the film I saw was in English, and I thought the cast sounded amazing. The Japanese cast did fantastic in the movie, especially when came to the singing. I was genuinely impressed.
Kaho Nakamura voiced Suzu/Belle, and what an incredible voice actress. Nakamura playing Suzu/Belle was a great performance, also her singing voice is beautiful. Easily my favorite voice work in the film.
Takeru Satoh voiced Dragon, and he killed it. I was already familiar with Satoh’s voice work, so I knew he would do a bang of a performance. From when he’s voicing Dragon menacing or playing him as his softer side, it was good, especially when he plays Dragon’s real life self (no spoilers).
I also enjoyed the performance of Lilas Ikuta as Hiroka, Ryo Narita as Shinobu, Shōta Sometani as Shinjiro, and Tina Tamashiro as Ruka. They all complimented well with Nakuma as Suzu, great chemistry all around. Overall, the cast for BELLE was A-1. I definitely want to watch the film in English so I can hear the great performances from the cast.
Fantastic animation from Studio Chizu. The film switches between two art styles, 2D in the real world and 3D in the virtual world, it was done right. You know CGI in anime films can be a hit or miss, but the CGI was a compete hit. I also watched it in IMAX, so colors were popping beautifully. BELLE is a gorgeous looking film and my jaw dropped many times. Studio Chizu has continued to show how great of an animation studio they are.
The score in this film was incredible, and it played a huge part of the film. You would’ve thought that this film would be just a complete musical, nope, music were played in very crucial parts of the film and it worked. Oh man, there’s a song towards the end that was so emotional that it even almost caught me off guard. I’m going to have to add the soundtrack to my playlist and listen to it over and over again.
I don’t know how much more praise I can give this movie, it was just so damn good. BELLE was my first film of 2022 and it set the bar high for the rest of the films that comes out this year. I’m going to have to see BELLE again, but with how I’m feeling now as I write this review, it’s a perfect film.
If you can watch BELLE, then do it without hesitation. Watch it in theaters, buy it physically/digitally, basically just watch it anytime you come across this film. Can you tell I loved the movie?