“Belle follows Suzu, 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, Suzu enters “U,” a virtual world of five billion online members, and she becomes Belle, a world-famous singer. Belle soon meets with a mysterious creature with whom she embarks on a journey of adventures and love in their quest of becoming who they truly are.”
Mamoru Hosoda is one of my favorite anime directors who excels at empathetic storytelling with a hint of danger. Hosoda has a long track record of great films including The Girl Who Leapt Through Time, Wolf Children, Summer Wars, and The Boy and the Beast.
This new story appears to be a spiritual successor to Hosoda’s previous films– set in a virtual world with a teenage girl and a mysterious beast. Hosoda’s last film Mirai was one of the last he could do traditionally hand drawn. However, the added computer effects in the trailer for Belle look like a stylistic choice rather than a cheap shortcut. Belle could prove to be Hosoda’s best film yet!