• Strictly Films

Belle; Grade: B

Belle takes place centering around an app on your phone called “U”. U can be described as a virtual reality where people can be whomever they want to be and get a fresh new start of life, as the app is operated by some kind of ear phones that bring users to this world. Suzu (Kaho Nakamura) is still heavily grieving over the lost of her mother when she was just six years old, because of her mothers passing Suzu is emotionally unstable, encounters stress levels unimaginable, is fully disconnected from her father, and worst of all she can’t sing like she used to as a kid. Suzu creates an account on U as she names her avatar Belle, where she would appear as a woman whom is tall and has pink hair. Suzu as Belle brings out the best in Suzu, as she’s able to sing in this virtual world as soon enough she gains TONS of followers, a fan base, and even criticism as well. It all feels a bit overwhelming for Suzu, however this virtual world has made Suzu a much more secure person as she enjoys the ability to sing again. However Suzu and the rest of the users on U will be acquainted by an unexpected user The Beast. The Beast is one whom wreaks havoc in this virtual world, he’s big, mean, and nasty. Suzu is curious to know who The Beast is behind the Avatar and why he’s filled with so much anger and hatred.

Anime is that one genre that can be a hit or miss for someone like me: You can either get a matured film or can get a really obnoxious film, that resembles the likes of Yu Gi Oh… I liked Yu Gi Oh as a kid, but now all grown up it’s completely bizarre. From the looks of the poster and I believe one image I quickly saw, I was skeptical as I thought this could perhaps be one of those stupid ones. Fortunately: I had a fair amount of fun with Belle, as I thought this was a well made Anime.

For starters: The animation is fantastic. Though it’s completely 2-D, there are some sequences in which did felt photo accurate to life like as the advancement within the animation towards technology is astounding. A lot of the animation designs as far as world building, character design, and locations were all pretty superb… It’s a very colorful film to look at, not to mention the designs were thoroughly fun and exciting, never felt dull for a moment.

The characters were extremely well written, as I was really surprised how accurate the emotions and feelings these characters are enduring compared to what kids are going through in today’s society. Perhaps the world we’re currently live in is getting way out of touch with humanity as the years goes by, which explains why so many children are suffering from depression, anxiety, stress, and are emotionally unstable. The more technology advances to the point where human beings are more involved in these devices than they are in actual reality, the more likely human behavior declines rapidly just like the characters in this film. Notice how majority of the characters in normal socializing situations, that they severely panic… It’s getting really bad as I felt the way this film showed the world with this new virtual reality device, that consequences are bound to come.

Suzu was an extremely well written and likable character, I do feel audiences will get a little annoyed with this character due to the fact she cries and panics a lot, but considering current society and how much of an impact her mothers death put on Suzu… I felt it was very understood why she feels this urge to panic, cry, and stress out a lot. Her enjoyment with this virtual reality world made clear sense: Her passion she once love that was lost, was now gained all because of this world. I enjoy the fact this character is purely hearted, like she never lets the fame really get in the way of being a good person. Often enough the fame and attention in these social media apps really taint the soul of a human being, but with Suzu it never phases her at all, more so I believe because of how much she enjoyed this world that she was confused on how one can wreak chaos in a world that does “encourage” others to be themselves and that is acceptable to be themselves?

The story at hand felt like being on a roller coaster: The tone of the story shifts quite a bit, though at times can be a bit weird, it however was thoroughly engaging. The story can feel like a metaphor towards virtual reality, it can be about grieving, it can be out about human behavior which has strong themes of abuse, there is a moment in the story that resembles Beauty and The Beast, it then shifts to being an action film, and then it settles as an emotionally riveting tale. There is a lot to unpack within this story, however how it’s told is not only thoroughly entertaining and engaging, but you do feel a fair amount of emotions with what your watching. It definitely feels like a personal tale being told, as I believe a lot of people adults and children can relate to a story like this, it surprisingly has something to say while all this wild moments are being unveiled right before our eyes. There is also some few quality comedic moments, I loved the moment where two characters confess their love for each other as it was a completely awkward yet adorable funny moment.

What I also was surprised with this film is the music… The music in this film were AWESOME! The songs sung by Belle were pure treat for my ears, they were fun, catchy, and when she hits the ballads… It really hit you deep emotionally.

I do have some flaws with Belle. Some of the editing in the beginning was hard to comprehend, felt a bit choppy. The whole concept of U can perhaps be confusing, regarding the rules on how this actually works. Like putting on these special kind of earphones, which then will transport you to a virtual world… I don’t understand how it works?! Especially in moments when Suzu is running to this school facility, as while she’s running to that facility she’s also in the virtual world while running in reality… It’s unclear how this technology actually works, so I wish there was a much more understanding within this product.

Overall, Belle was a solid film and a nice start towards 2022 theatrical films. I recommend checking this one out, t’was an enjoyable watch I must say. -Mitch Smietana

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