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Belle (2021, Studio Chizu)

Anime Reviews

Belle (2021, Studio Chizu)

Ryuu to Sobakasu no Hime [Dragon and the Freckled Princess]

Worth A Watch

Suzu who is unhappy living in a very much abandoned rural countryside in Ino. Her late mother had gotten her into singing with some music apps but one stormy day she died while wading through the rapid river rescuing a young girl. Traumatised, she can't sing and her sadness kept her classmates away.

Just then, her friend Hiroka invites her to "U" the world's most popular virtual community online, its tagline "You can't start over in reality but you can in U." After discovering she could sing in the world of U, Suzu found herself a bit happier in real life too. As Hiroka starts to help her collaborate with other artists to write her songs and coordinate her costumes, Suzu gains a huge following and becomes U's most popular user and virtual diva.

When Belle's biggest concert is ruined by a notorious user known as Dragon, nicknamed "The Beast", they decide to track down who who he is in real life. As Suzu's real life doesn't go well, she finds herself spending more time in U and confiding with the Beast. As everyone is obssessed to find out the real identity of the trouble maker, Suzu finds her own virtual self caught up too but as she learns more about the Beast, she finds herself determined to help him.

Mamoru Hosoda's latest work which many describe as another take on "Beauty and the Beast". It actually was the initial idea when Hosoda thought, "What if Beauty and the Beast happened on the internet?" Jin Kim who was responsible for the character designs such as Belle in the world of "U" actually worked on Disney titles too such as Frozen which might explain why face expressions resemble what you'd usually see from Disney. Voice acting on the other hand sounded really dull.

It has it cute moments like the train station scene but overall I think it would have been better without the Beauty and the Beast segment. Like Summer Wars it has this online community connecting together theme but then, points your attention to different developments and never quite finishes them. It's good that it shines a bit of light on child abuse but I seriously don't think the way it was handled in the movie would have worked out well in real life. I liked the wrap-up for Suzu but the movie also often left me wondering, "Where is this film going exactly?" too many times.

Ryuu to Sobakasu no Hime

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