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Belle Blu-ray Review

“Belle” offers up an unexpected twist on “Beauty And The Beast.”

Written and directed by Mamoru Hosoda, “Belle” is an anime film that provides a unique spin on the classic “Beauty And The Beast” fairy tale. The story revolves around a teen girl (Suzu) who lives two lives. In the virtual community U she has an avatar that is a superstar singer named Bell that is beloved by the community of users (there are at least 5 billion of them). In the real world, Suzu is struggling after the loss of her mom. She doesn’t communicate with her dad, she has grown distant from her childhood friend Shinobu, she can’t seem to sing anymore, and she’s a bit of a loner who has shut herself off from others. One day while in U, Bell encounters an ugly monster/fighter (Dragon) who is being hunted by the power hungry Justices who claim to want to protect U. Bell and Dragon begin to form a bond together in game and possibly in the real world too. 

“Belle” is a movie with a lot on its mind. While it shares DNA with Mamoru Hosoda’s previous anime film “Summer Wars” (along with “Ready Player One”), the story digs deep into social media, judgments, internet, secrets, the power of kindness, identity, loss, and trauma. It’s a very adult take on “Beauty And The Beast” and one that doesn’t involve romance. Don’t worry, there’s no spoilers as to how it all plays out here, but suffice it to say, the story doesn’t unfold like you’d think in the third act. It turns out to be a rather poignant drama more than anything else.

As with Hosoda’s past work, “Belle” is a visual stunner. The character designs (especially the wide variety of avatars), the flying whales, and even the detailed environments (ala Dragon’s castle and the drab high school hallways) are exquisite. Studio Chizu deserves high praise for their breathtaking animation work here. Not only does the animation use every inch of the frame to the fullest effect, but the studio creates two very distinct worlds both virtually and in the human world. 


Presentation: 2.39:1 1080p. How does it look? The gorgeous animation truly shines in hi-def. You can’t ask for better video quality.

Audio Track: Japanese and English 5.1 DTS-HD MA. How does it sound? While most viewers will opt for the original language Japanese track (which is excellent), the English dub is actually of high quality as well. Really, you can’t go wrong with either track as both deliver.

* DVD copy
* Design still gallery
* 6 “Belle” trailers
* Kylie McNeil sings “Gales of Song.”
* 2 scene breakdowns for The Station and The Ballroom with director Mamoru Hosoda talking about the sequences.
* “Finding The Voice Of Belle”- A featurette on the English dub and cast.
* “Hosoda Draws Belle”- The title says it all.
* “The Music Of Belle”- Interviews with the music department.
* “A Conversation With Director Mamoru Hosoda”- An in-depth 29 minute interview with the director who talks about everything from the creative process to Cannes.
* “Hosoda @ Animation is Film”- A Q&A with Peter Debruge and Mamoru Hosoda (and Hosoda’s translator) from the festival. There’s also a conversation between Leonard Maltin and Hosoda + translator spliced in as well.
* “The Making Of Belle”- An extensive 44 minute making of featurette. 


May 16, 2022 - Posted by | Blu-Ray review | , , ,

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