Social media is king and queen. We are firmly in an age in which social media rules. It, in a lot of cases, sets the tone for the world we live in. Popular opinion is set by it. People are canceled on it. Influencers become not only well know but millionaires on it. Trends are set on it. The power is actually incredible. Not something we would have predicted ten years ago. At least not to this extent. This is a film which could only have been made in today’s world. A world in which a young unpopular girl becomes the most popular singer in the world. A kind of modern-day fairy tale.
Set in Japan today, Belle, directed and written by respected anime filmmaker Mamoru Hosoda (Summer Wars, Mirai), is about shy teenager Suzu (voiced by Kaho Nakamura – first film), who, through the power of social media, becomes the most popular singer in the world.
Living in a rural village, Suzu has lived her life pretty much in the shadows due to her shyness and unpopularity. Even at her high school, she garners no attention. That all changes once she enters “U”, a huge virtual world. There she is able to escape into a persona she has created. Suzu is Belle, a gorgeous singer. A singer who has become the most popular one in the world. Her concerts are highly anticipated events.
At one of her concerts, Belle’s singing is interrupted by a frightening creature being pursued by vigilantes. While the creature is being hunted, Suzu looks into who and what the beast is. In doing so she is also figuring out who she really is outside of the virtual world.
The strong story, which might be relatable to many out there, is just one of the highlights of this film that has earned a bit of Oscar buzz. It is the kind of story that has been told before, but there is so much heart in this one that you cannot help but fall under its spell. Besides the warm feelings you will get here, there is also substance going on. Lessons can be learned about the virtual world and its pluses and minuses.
What will stand out for most is the amazing animation. It really is another level. The visual quality is amazing and as such the world built here is a brilliant looking one.