When Mamoru Hosoda’s newest anime film Belle screened at the Cannes Film Festival, it received a standing ovation afterward—not for one minute, not for two, but 14 minutes. That’s quite a bit, but when the Academy Award-winning director of Summer Wars, Wolf Children, and Mirai makes a new movie, people tend to get impressed. The film is finally coming to U.S. theaters this week, if you’re feeling adventurous enough to brave the outdoors. If you’re not, however, how about checking out the first few minutes of this absolutely beautiful film?
Here’s the official synopsis, so you have a baseline for what the movie is about: “Suzu is a 17-year-old high school student living in a rural village with her father. For years, she has only been a shadow of herself. One day, she enters ‘U,’ a virtual world of five billion members on the Internet. There, she is not Suzu anymore but Belle, a world-famous singer. She soon meets with a mysterious creature. Together, they embark on a journey of adventures, challenges, and love, in their quest to become who they truly are.”
The opening few minutes of the movie are mainly table-setting for the concept of U, unsurprisingly. But it’s some absolutely beautiful table-setting, complete with its own theme song from the Japanese band millennium parade titled “U,” of course. Behold!
The Japanese name for the movie isn’t Belle but Ryū to Sobakasu no Hime, which translates to The Dragon and Freckled Princess. which makes far more sense if you’ve watched the teaser for the movie from this past summer, which also happens to capture some of the melancholy that Suzu is trying to escape in the real world by going into U.
Animated by Studio Chizu, Belle’s English voice cast includes Kylie McNeill as Suzu and Belle, Paul Castro Jr. as Dragon, Chace Crawford as Justin, Jessica DiCicco as Hiro, and more. The film comes to theaters and IMAX this Friday, January 14.
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