Otaku USA Magazine
Why Mamoru Hosoda’s BELLE Has Our Undivided Attention

Mamoru Hosoda's BELLE

Director Mamoru Hosoda is preparing to premiere BELLEa film exploring virtual reality, music, and love. The upcoming film is already proving to be eyecatching, just from the visuals alone. But we’ve been following the production, and there are a few reasons in particular we’re enthralled with the upcoming title.

So besides the fact that it’s beautiful, and has pretty music, and hails from a celebrated director… here’s why we’re keeping an eye on BELLE. How about you?


A Story of Connections


BELLE is beautifully timed, considering what we’re coming out of. The story takes place partly in U, a virtual world connecting billions of people around the globe. In that world, you can be someone else entirely — as our heroine, Suzu, does. Despite living in a small town, she exists in U as the film’s title singing star, beloved by all.

While there’s a lot of bad that can happen in a virtual space, it doesn’t outweigh the connections it gives us. Those connections have kept us going through the last year and a bit, and even before then. Seeing that unity explored with a fantasy spin really resonates right about now.


A Global Design Team

The magic of BELLE from Mamoru Hosoda

If Suzu’s “Belle” avatar looks familiar at all, it’s for good reason. Her style has a modern Disney flair — and that’s because her designer is a Disney veteran! Jin Kim has worked on films like Frozen, Moana, and Big Hero 6. That iconic style not only makes for a beautiful character, but also lends a fairy tale feel to the film. The original designs for the virtual idol really hammer that home.

Plus, the virtual world of U comes from another overseas talent: London-based designer Eric Wong. And last but not least, Irish animation studio Cartoon Saloon will be rendering their services as well. In order words, this is truly a global production.


The Voice of the Fans


One of the coolest bits of news about BELLE recently was that fans had a chance at having a voice in it! An online call for singers asked people around the world to lend their voices to a simple melody. Those vocals — the ones chosen, at least — would become part of a major scene later in the film. Obviously we don’t have too many details because spoilers, but we know it would be fans singing out to Belle.

Everything about this film — the story, setting, and production — drive home a sense of global unity. People are working together all over the world to make a uniquely beautiful piece of art. And we can’t wait to see it. Nor will we have to wait long: it makes its premiere at Cannes this summer.

Kara Dennison

Kara Dennison is a writer, editor, and presenter with bylines at Crunchyroll, Sci-Fi Magazine, Sartorial Geek, and many others. Beyond the world of anime, she's a writer for Doctor Who expanded universe series including Iris Wildthyme and the City of the Saved, as well as an editor for the critically-acclaimed Black Archive series.