Reviews

Mamoru Hosoda’s Beauty and the Beast riff Belle argues for optimism about the internet

This review was originally posted in relation to: BelovedAmerican theatrical debut. Updated and re-released for digital and streaming releases of this film.

child-friendly morals The beauty and the beast (or at least the 1991 Disney version) is as simple as “Don’t judge a book by its cover.” BelovedWriter and director Mamoru Hosoda has updated the story for the internet age, adding it to a long list of adaptations. Elaborately crafted online personas replace magical curses, and enchanted singing candlesticks become flickering AIs. but the director Mirai And the girl who leapt through time It takes the core message a step further by emphasizing that connectivity is not a one-way street. Recognizing the true self of another person without providing vulnerability in return is not enough. Produced by Hosoda’s Studio Chizu, this rich, brilliantly animated vision asserts the life-changing bonds that can be formed when people break down their digital defenses.

Beloved It takes place in the near future when a virtual reality platform called U dominates the global consciousness. Singer Kaho Nakamura plays Suzu, a shy fat teenager who still mourns the death of her mother who drowned while rescuing her child from a submerged river. Suzu and her mother share a love for music, and after the traumatic event, Suzu had a panic attack when she tried to sing her song. She only regains her confidence and voice when she enters U as an avatar named Belle. With the help of her naughty hacker friend Hiro (Lil Las Ikuta), she unintentionally becomes a viral pop idol.

In the animated movie Belle, in the virtual world of U, Belle sees a chatting avatar and a message.

Image: GKIDS

The appeal of U to Suzu is in his ability to reinvent himself. Virtual worlds promise escapism in the form of anonymity. (The platform’s ultimate punishment for misconduct is “disclosure,” which includes removing the avatar and exposing the user to the world behind them.) Misbehaving user Dragon (Takeru Satoh) crashes at one of Belle’s concerts. And Belle, a group of warriors determined to uncover him, set out in search of his secret.

The story of a shy girl who finds her own voice is predictable, but Beloved Bring your ideas into the surreal realm. This is a movie featuring a floating pop diva dropping crystals from a neon whale covered in speakers. Animations provide a vivid visual feast throughout and deepen the seamless integration of styles. Belovedof worldview. Glossy 3D CG animates U while depicting the real world in Hosoda’s familiar traditional style.

Created by acclaimed Disney animator Jinjin Kim, Belle resembles the typical studio princess with a cheeky face and huge blue eyes. Suzu, on the other hand, looks like a typical manga anime heroine, representing the tension between herself and herself online and in real life. The dragon creates a warped appearance. The selling point of U is that it uses biometrics to connect a user’s real body with a digital avatar, and the bruises associated with real opponents bloom like neon mushrooms on their curved backs.

Belle’s concert explodes with brilliant colors and spectaculars, but when the music is off, U feels infinite but lonely. The Omnidirectional City, designed by London architect Eric Wong, lives in an almost eternal twilight. capacious founding-Style stacked buildings overwhelm the screen, but all the yellow windows are empty. Irish animation studio Cartoon Saloon(wolfwalker) did the background work for the fairy tale landscape surrounding the dragon’s collapsing castle.

Much of the castle is outlined in white, making it look like the defective building will soon disappear. Virtual platforms are interesting and quirky. Beloved, but it’s not clear how non-virus stars spend their time on U or how control-obsessed vigilantes intercept the creators’ rights to reveal users’ identities. But intentionally, the real world offers a more engaging place. Slow shots and warm details of the natural world, such as Suzu’s wall or faded inspiring post-it notes of a three-legged puppy, make Suzu’s life seem like a human being.

In the animated movie Belle, high school students Suzu and Hiro sit together at a computer.

Image: GKIDS

And Suzu struggles through this life. Her name means ‘bell’ in English, but as her mother’s old choir points out, she’s more of a bell lurking in the shadows. She has a hard time identifying with her father and her classmates. The latter emotional distance is rendered physically by Suzu’s daily long bus and train trips to school. She is surrounded by empty chairs throughout the ride. Loneliness is part of everyday life. Hosoda describes these spatial observations with frequent wide-angle photos of Suzu walking home alone. Suzu remembers her mother’s death, and the young girl who saved her first appears in another wide-angle shot of total darkness. Emphasizing the girl’s isolation is analogous to Suzu’s decision to help her dragon with her mother’s decision.

Compositions like these may feel like a nose touch, but Hosoda uses the same technique to provide a contrast by emphasizing proximity. Suzu’s memories of her childhood guardian, Shinibou (Ryō Narita), show the couple cuddled together, filled with blurry brushstrokes and surrounded by soft yellow. When Bell was later linked with a dragon during a tribute to the Disney movie, the pair flowed together against an empty sky. The two moments have completely opposite color palettes, and this bond leads to the idea that they can be made online as well as offline.

Hosoda’s work often explores what it means to exist in two different spaces, using separate timelines and realities. even his movies wolf children We woven this topic in light of Werewolf Reed’s dual identity. With almost the same opening sequence, BelovedThe premise of Hosodas feels like an updated version of Hosodas. summer war, another virtual reality story that warns of the over-integration of technology through an apocalyptic scenario. to Beloved, but the inserts are much more intimate and are based on character development. The fate of the universe does not rest on Suzu’s shoulders. Depends on whether you can pass it on to someone in need. The film’s climax hinges on her reconciling the split between her two selves in order to truly open her heart.

The monstrous beast confronts Belle in the animated movie Belle.

Image: GKIDS

The idea that people advertise only what they want to show others online is not new. Nor is it a revelation that anonymity breeds malice. sometimes, BelovedIt feels futile to express online judgment by intersecting conversations and speech bubbles. But Hosoda knows better than to blame all our worst instincts solely on the internet. One of the film’s most imaginative sequences sees Suzu suppressing vicious school gossip through targeted responses that visualize Hosada as if he were conquering all nations at once. danger-Style hexagonal game board. The message is clear. Rumors spread in every possible way. “The world is the same everywhere.” Suzu sighed.

Hosoda also justifies the ultimate revelation of dragons in real life, leading to a sudden tonal change that he didn’t quite do well in the final act. What appears to be a message of courage turns out to be a misguided account of overcoming impossible situations through resilience. Given the sensitive subject matter, the story ends unsettlingly.

Nevertheless, the core of the film is empathy, and Hosoda’s emotions are persuasive no matter how exaggerated and serious they are. Beloved It doesn’t shy away from online toxicity, but it does call for a hopeful perspective on how the internet can connect people in meaningful and supportive ways. Hosoda wants to believe that online interactions can last forever. If not, what else could this relentless online misery be for?

Beloved Digital rentals are now available on the following platforms: Amazon, Wharfand others.


More information

Mamoru Hosoda’s Beauty and the Beast riff Belle argues for optimism about the internet

This review was originally published in conjunction with Belle’s theatrical debut in American release. It has been updated and republished for the film’s digital and streaming release.
The kid-friendly moral of Beauty and the Beast (or at least the 1991 Disney version) is a simple one: “Don’t judge a book by its cover.” With the ambitious, decisively uncynical new anime movie Belle, writer-director Mamoru Hosoda adds to a long list of adaptations by updating the story for the internet age. Carefully fabricated online personas replace magical curses, and enchanted singing candlesticks transform into mewling AIs. But the director of Mirai and The Girl Who Leapt Through Time pushes the core message one step further by emphasizing how connection is a two-way street. It isn’t enough to recognize someone else’s true self without offering vulnerability in return. Produced by Hosoda’s Studio Chizu, this lush, spectacularly animated vision argues for the life-changing bonds that can develop when people shed their digital defenses.
Belle takes place in a near-future where a virtual-reality platform called U dominates the global consciousness. Singer Kaho Nakamura stars as Suzu, a shy provincial teen still grieving the death of her mother, who drowned rescuing a child from a flooding river. Suzu and her mom shared a love of music, and since the traumatic incident, Suzu has panic attacks when she tries to sing. She only regains confidence and her voice when she enters U as an avatar named Belle. With the help of her mischievous hacker friend Hiro (Lilas Ikuta), she inadvertently becomes a viral pop idol in the process.

Image: GKIDS
For Suzu, U’s appeal is its capacity for reinvention — the virtual world promises escapism in the form of anonymity. (The platform’s ultimate punishment for wrongdoing is “Unveiling,” where an avatar is stripped away and the user behind it is exposed to the world.) When a misbehaving user known as the Dragon (Takeru Satoh) crashes one of Belle’s concerts, pursued by a group of warriors determined to Unveil him, Belle sets out to discover his secret.
The story of a shy girl finding her voice sounds predictable, but Belle takes the idea into surreal territory. This is a film that features a floating pop diva shedding crystals from atop a neon whale covered with speakers. The animation serves up a vivid feast for the eyes throughout, and a seamless integration of styles deepens Belle’s world-building. Glossy 3D CG animates U, while the real world is illustrated in Hosoda’s familiar traditional style.

Related

The cathartic, thrilling fantasies of Mamoru Hosoda
Designed by renowned Disney animator Jin Kim, Belle resembles the studio’s quintessential princess, with a waifish face and impossibly big blue eyes. Suzu, on the other hand, looks like a typical cartoonish anime heroine, signaling the tension between her online and real selves. The Dragon cuts a twisted figure. A selling feature of U is its use of biometric data to link users’ actual bodies with their digital avatars, and the bruises tied to his real-life counterpart bloom across his hunched back like neon fungi.
Belle’s concerts explode in a smorgasbord of color and spectacle, but when the music switches off, U feels limitless but lonely. Designed by London architect Eric Wong, the omni-directional city lives in a near-perpetual twilight. Expansive Inception-style stacked buildings overwhelm the screen, but all their yellow windows are vacant. Adding to U’s amalgamation of ideas, Irish animation studio Cartoon Saloon (Wolfwalkers) contributed background work to the storybook-esque lands surrounding the Dragon’s crumbling castle.
Many of the castle’s details are drawn with white outlines, making the glitchy building look like it’ll flicker out of existence any second. The virtual platform is a fascinating curiosity in Belle, although it’s never made clear how non-viral stars spend their time in U, or how one control-obsessed vigilante hijacked the creators’ powers to expose users’ identities. Perhaps intentionally, though, the real world offers a more compelling place to stay. Lingering shots of the natural world and a warm array of details, like the faded inspirational Post-It notes on Suzu’s wall, or her three-legged dog, all make Suzu’s life feel lived-in.

Image: GKIDS
And Suzu is struggling through that life. Her name means “bell” in English, but as her mom’s old choir points out, she’s more like a bell cricket hiding in the shadows. She struggles to relate to her dad and classmates. The latter emotional distance gets rendered physically by the long bus and train journey Suzu makes every day to get to school. She’s surrounded by empty chairs the whole journey. Loneliness is part of her routine. Hosoda makes this consideration of space explicit, with frequent wide shots of Suzu walking home alone. Similarly, as Suzu recalls her mother’s death, the young girl her mom rescues first appears in another wide shot against total blackness. Highlighting the girl’s isolation sets up parallels between Suzu’s decision to help the Dragon with her mom’s own choice.
Such shot compositions could start to feel on the nose, but Hosoda offers a point of contrast by using the same technique to emphasize closeness. Washed in fuzzy brushstrokes, Suzu’s memory with her childhood protector Shinibou (Ryō Narita) shows the pair clustered together, surrounded by soft yellow. When Belle later bonds with the Dragon during a dance homage to the Disney film, the pair flow up together against an expanse of empty sky. The two moments have completely opposite color palettes, getting at the idea that these attachments can form both offline and on.
Hosoda’s work often considers what it means to exist in two different spaces, by playing with separate timelines and realities. Even his film Wolf Children intertwined this theme by considering the dual identities of its werewolf leads. With near-identical opening sequences, Belle’s premise feels like the updated version of Hosoda’s Summer Wars, another virtual-reality story that warns against over-integrating technology through an apocalyptic scenario. In Belle, though, the stakes are much more intimate and grounded in character growth. The fate of the universe doesn’t rest on Suzu’s shoulders; all that matters is whether she can get through to one person who needs help. The film’s climax hinges on her reconciling the disconnect between her two selves to be able to truly open up.

Image: GKIDS
The idea that people online only advertise the parts of themselves they want others to see isn’t novel. Neither is the revelation that anonymity breeds spite. At times, Belle’s depiction of online judgment via overlapping dialogue and chat bubbles feels trite. Hosoda knows better than to attribute all our worst instincts solely to the internet, though. One of the film’s most inventive sequences shows Suzu quelling vicious school gossip through targeted responses, which Hosada visualizes as if she’s conquering countries in a Risk-esque hexagonal game board. The message is clear: Rumors travel whatever way they can. “The world is the same everywhere,” Suzu sighs.
Hosoda also grounds the eventual reveals about the Dragon in real life, which leads to an abrupt final-act tonal shift that he doesn’t quite pull off. What seems intended as a message of courage comes out as a misguided statement about conquering impossible situations through resilience. Given the delicate subject matter, the story ends on an unsettling note.
Still, the core of the movie is about empathy, and Hosoda’s sentimentality is compelling, even at its most overstated and earnest. Belle doesn’t shy away from online toxicity, but it advocates for a hopeful perspective on the ways the internet can connect people in meaningful, supportive ways. Hosoda deeply wants to believe that online interactions can be used for good. Because if not, what else could all this relentless online misery possibly be for?
Belle is now available for digital rental on platforms like Amazon, Vudu, and others.

#Mamoru #Hosodas #Beauty #Beast #riff #Belle #argues #optimism #internet

Mamoru Hosoda’s Beauty and the Beast riff Belle argues for optimism about the internet

This review was originally published in conjunction with Belle’s theatrical debut in American release. It has been updated and republished for the film’s digital and streaming release.
The kid-friendly moral of Beauty and the Beast (or at least the 1991 Disney version) is a simple one: “Don’t judge a book by its cover.” With the ambitious, decisively uncynical new anime movie Belle, writer-director Mamoru Hosoda adds to a long list of adaptations by updating the story for the internet age. Carefully fabricated online personas replace magical curses, and enchanted singing candlesticks transform into mewling AIs. But the director of Mirai and The Girl Who Leapt Through Time pushes the core message one step further by emphasizing how connection is a two-way street. It isn’t enough to recognize someone else’s true self without offering vulnerability in return. Produced by Hosoda’s Studio Chizu, this lush, spectacularly animated vision argues for the life-changing bonds that can develop when people shed their digital defenses.
Belle takes place in a near-future where a virtual-reality platform called U dominates the global consciousness. Singer Kaho Nakamura stars as Suzu, a shy provincial teen still grieving the death of her mother, who drowned rescuing a child from a flooding river. Suzu and her mom shared a love of music, and since the traumatic incident, Suzu has panic attacks when she tries to sing. She only regains confidence and her voice when she enters U as an avatar named Belle. With the help of her mischievous hacker friend Hiro (Lilas Ikuta), she inadvertently becomes a viral pop idol in the process.

Image: GKIDS
For Suzu, U’s appeal is its capacity for reinvention — the virtual world promises escapism in the form of anonymity. (The platform’s ultimate punishment for wrongdoing is “Unveiling,” where an avatar is stripped away and the user behind it is exposed to the world.) When a misbehaving user known as the Dragon (Takeru Satoh) crashes one of Belle’s concerts, pursued by a group of warriors determined to Unveil him, Belle sets out to discover his secret.
The story of a shy girl finding her voice sounds predictable, but Belle takes the idea into surreal territory. This is a film that features a floating pop diva shedding crystals from atop a neon whale covered with speakers. The animation serves up a vivid feast for the eyes throughout, and a seamless integration of styles deepens Belle’s world-building. Glossy 3D CG animates U, while the real world is illustrated in Hosoda’s familiar traditional style.

Related

The cathartic, thrilling fantasies of Mamoru Hosoda
Designed by renowned Disney animator Jin Kim, Belle resembles the studio’s quintessential princess, with a waifish face and impossibly big blue eyes. Suzu, on the other hand, looks like a typical cartoonish anime heroine, signaling the tension between her online and real selves. The Dragon cuts a twisted figure. A selling feature of U is its use of biometric data to link users’ actual bodies with their digital avatars, and the bruises tied to his real-life counterpart bloom across his hunched back like neon fungi.
Belle’s concerts explode in a smorgasbord of color and spectacle, but when the music switches off, U feels limitless but lonely. Designed by London architect Eric Wong, the omni-directional city lives in a near-perpetual twilight. Expansive Inception-style stacked buildings overwhelm the screen, but all their yellow windows are vacant. Adding to U’s amalgamation of ideas, Irish animation studio Cartoon Saloon (Wolfwalkers) contributed background work to the storybook-esque lands surrounding the Dragon’s crumbling castle.
Many of the castle’s details are drawn with white outlines, making the glitchy building look like it’ll flicker out of existence any second. The virtual platform is a fascinating curiosity in Belle, although it’s never made clear how non-viral stars spend their time in U, or how one control-obsessed vigilante hijacked the creators’ powers to expose users’ identities. Perhaps intentionally, though, the real world offers a more compelling place to stay. Lingering shots of the natural world and a warm array of details, like the faded inspirational Post-It notes on Suzu’s wall, or her three-legged dog, all make Suzu’s life feel lived-in.

Image: GKIDS
And Suzu is struggling through that life. Her name means “bell” in English, but as her mom’s old choir points out, she’s more like a bell cricket hiding in the shadows. She struggles to relate to her dad and classmates. The latter emotional distance gets rendered physically by the long bus and train journey Suzu makes every day to get to school. She’s surrounded by empty chairs the whole journey. Loneliness is part of her routine. Hosoda makes this consideration of space explicit, with frequent wide shots of Suzu walking home alone. Similarly, as Suzu recalls her mother’s death, the young girl her mom rescues first appears in another wide shot against total blackness. Highlighting the girl’s isolation sets up parallels between Suzu’s decision to help the Dragon with her mom’s own choice.
Such shot compositions could start to feel on the nose, but Hosoda offers a point of contrast by using the same technique to emphasize closeness. Washed in fuzzy brushstrokes, Suzu’s memory with her childhood protector Shinibou (Ryō Narita) shows the pair clustered together, surrounded by soft yellow. When Belle later bonds with the Dragon during a dance homage to the Disney film, the pair flow up together against an expanse of empty sky. The two moments have completely opposite color palettes, getting at the idea that these attachments can form both offline and on.
Hosoda’s work often considers what it means to exist in two different spaces, by playing with separate timelines and realities. Even his film Wolf Children intertwined this theme by considering the dual identities of its werewolf leads. With near-identical opening sequences, Belle’s premise feels like the updated version of Hosoda’s Summer Wars, another virtual-reality story that warns against over-integrating technology through an apocalyptic scenario. In Belle, though, the stakes are much more intimate and grounded in character growth. The fate of the universe doesn’t rest on Suzu’s shoulders; all that matters is whether she can get through to one person who needs help. The film’s climax hinges on her reconciling the disconnect between her two selves to be able to truly open up.

Image: GKIDS
The idea that people online only advertise the parts of themselves they want others to see isn’t novel. Neither is the revelation that anonymity breeds spite. At times, Belle’s depiction of online judgment via overlapping dialogue and chat bubbles feels trite. Hosoda knows better than to attribute all our worst instincts solely to the internet, though. One of the film’s most inventive sequences shows Suzu quelling vicious school gossip through targeted responses, which Hosada visualizes as if she’s conquering countries in a Risk-esque hexagonal game board. The message is clear: Rumors travel whatever way they can. “The world is the same everywhere,” Suzu sighs.
Hosoda also grounds the eventual reveals about the Dragon in real life, which leads to an abrupt final-act tonal shift that he doesn’t quite pull off. What seems intended as a message of courage comes out as a misguided statement about conquering impossible situations through resilience. Given the delicate subject matter, the story ends on an unsettling note.
Still, the core of the movie is about empathy, and Hosoda’s sentimentality is compelling, even at its most overstated and earnest. Belle doesn’t shy away from online toxicity, but it advocates for a hopeful perspective on the ways the internet can connect people in meaningful, supportive ways. Hosoda deeply wants to believe that online interactions can be used for good. Because if not, what else could all this relentless online misery possibly be for?
Belle is now available for digital rental on platforms like Amazon, Vudu, and others.

#Mamoru #Hosodas #Beauty #Beast #riff #Belle #argues #optimism #internet


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