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Belle Looks Pretty, But Falls a Little Flat: A Review

Belle Looks Pretty, But Falls a Little Flat: A Review

Belle (aka The Dragon and the Freckled Princess) is an anime movie that actually came out last year, but didn’t make its way overseas until just recently. So far, the movie has been making pretty good money having earned over a million dollars in its first weekend.

The movie is about Suzu Naito, a seventeen-year-old high school student who signs up for the popular virtual world known as “U.” Think of the movie Ready, Player One, but with no copyrighted characters. And in U, she becomes her alter ego, the beautiful songstress Belle, and becomes the most popular character in the game.

During a concert, she runs into the mysterious character Dragon and embarks on an adventure to discover his identity and help him from ruthless vigilantes.

Amazing Music

Right off the bat, this movie has an amazing soundtrack and sound design. Granted, I saw this movie in IMAX so I may be biased, but the movie still has great music.

The main single is “U” and it’s this bombastic parade track with an awesome drumbeat pounding behind the singing. Both Kaho Nakamura and Kylie McNeil who sing the songs in Japanese and English, respectively, have stunning voices.

”A Million Miles Away” serves as the movie’s climax and it’s this beautiful ballad sung in front of billions of people, and is my favorite song in the whole movie, but don’t let that discount the other tracks. They’re great at setting the tone and the mood of the scene.

Cute and Bouncy

Also, this movie is very pretty. Mamoru Hosoda’s movies tend to be very pretty showcases of the Japanese countryside. With Belle, we also get these sprawling shots of U with seemingly billions of characters flying around, which you can see in the video above. Character animation on individuals is also really cute, especially on Suzu’s best friend Hiroka.

Hiroka has these really vibrant and energetic animations that give a real sense of liveliness and extroversion, like an actual teenage girl. And then there are the awesome action scenes involving the Dragon flying around, trying to escape from the bad guys.

Plus, the music scenes are also beautiful with huge bombastic set pieces. CGI in these scenes gets used to great effect.

See Also

Weak Plot

Now comes the part of the movie that I didn’t like: the story. The plot falls on its face and lacks any sort of real emotional connection between the characters. Character motivations are vague like you don’t really understand why Belle goes after the Dragon.

Belle is inspired by Beauty and the Beast, but it feels more like Alice in Wonderland. Romance feels tacked on and not a main component of the movie, but the movie plays up that aspect a lot. And it doesn’t go anywhere. There’s no romance between Belle and the Dragon.

The villains are completely wasted too. I think Hosoda wanted some kind of extra obstacle to get in the way of the romance, but they also don’t do anything consequential. So much so that you start to wonder what was the point of having these characters in the movie at all.

I give Belle a 7/10. It’s a decent movie with great music and animation but gets bogged down with a weak plot.

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