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Mamoru Hosoda Working With Disney, Cartoon Saloon Talent on 'Belle': Watch The New Trailer

Mamoru Hosoda has the claim to fame of being the only Japanese director who doesn't work for Studio Ghibli to have been nominated for the Best Animated Feature award at the Oscars. Hosoda's follow-up to the acclaimed Mirai is due to arrive on Japanese cinema screens this summer, and hopefully internationally not too long after that (Covid allowing, of course).

We got a very brief glimpse of Belle earlier this year with the 30-second teaser. The new trailer isn't a whole lot longer to be honest- but it features a treasure trove of beautiful visuals. Blending some beautifully depicted scenes of everyday Japanese life- with sequences in high school, by a riverside and on a train, with a return to a more digital/sci-fi world we last saw him explore in Summer Wars, it looks like it's going to show a side of Hosoda we haven't seen in some time.

The titular Belle is the avatar taken on by the protagonist Suzu in the virtual world, finding fame as a virtual idol. She has a very distinctive look, with her pink hair and giant eyes looking very different from Hosoda's more down-to-earth characters, which have realistic hair colours and a simpler design.  The trailer also features Belle's music for the first time.

Although it shows us a wide range of shots, it still feels like we're not seeing much of what the film has to offer. Studio Chizu describes the film:

The protagonist of this story, Suzu, is a 17-year old high school girl living with her father in a rural town of Kochi — their town is a textbook definition of depopulation in the Japanese countryside. Wounded by the loss of her mother at a young age, Suzu one day discovers the massive online world, “U,” and dives into this alternate reality as her avatar, Belle. Before long, all of U’s eyes are fixed on Belle (Suzu), when one day the mysterious and infamous Dragon-like figure appears before her.

The trailer was accompanied by the extremely exciting news that Hosoda is collaborating with some of the best international talent on Belle. First on the list is Disney veteran Jin Kim, who is contributing character designs to the film (which explains Belle's distinctive look). The virtual world 'U' is designed by London-based artist Eric Wong. 

Concept art by Jin Kim

Finally, he is also collaborating with Ireland's Cartoon Saloon, with Wolfwalkers directors Tomm Moore and Ross Stewart bringing their talents on board "to create a never-before-seen world". We were excited to see Belle before, but now we know it will feature such a dream team we really can't wait to see what they can come up with.

Belle is set for release in Japanese cinemas this July. International release dates are to be confirmed. Watch the new trailer below.