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'Belle' Music Video Reveals Mamoru Hosoda's Virtual World


Mamoru Hosoda's eagerly awaited new feature Belle has now opened in Japan, following its world premiere screening at Cannes last week. Hosoda's follow up to Oscar and Golden Globe-nominated Mirai was rapturously received by festival-goers, earning a 14-minute standing ovation and generating extremely strong word of mouth.

It's still some way off from an English language release- GKIDS Films and Anime Limited have both revealed 'early 2022' release dates for the film in the United States and the United Kingdom. Additional festival screenings and possibly an awards-qualifying run may give some a chance to see it beforehand, but most of us will have to wait for next year.

To make the wait more bearable- or to tease you further, you decide- we can see the most detailed glimpse of the film so far in a newly released music video. The song, titled U is performed by Millenium Parade and comes from the movie's soundtrack.

The vast majority of the video takes place in the film's virtual world (which is also called U). The song is actually part of the film's story, it is presented in-world. as performed by the titular virtual J-pop idol Belle (in our reality, voice actor Kaho Nakamura). Belle is the online identity of shy 17-year old highschooler Suzu.

Already it's looking pretty special- the visuals wow with a style that is reminiscent of the virtual reality of his earlier film Summer Wars with more than a hint of Satoshi Kon's Paprika. It combines digital visuals with beautiful hand-drawn animation.

Former Disney artist Jin Kim was brought on board to design Belle herself. Hosoda has also collaborated with Cartoon Saloon artists Tomm Moore  and Ross Stewart, architect and graphic designer Eric Wong and (primarily) video-game composer Ludvig Forsell, putting together an incredible team of international talent.

If Kim's design adds a Disneyesque angle, this is surely no coincidence. The film features a friendship between Belle and a character in the VR world known as The Beast. As you have probably already worked out, this is at least in part going to be a sci-fi spin on the Beauty And The Beast fairy tale. Although we suspect that there will be much more to it than that.

Feast your eyes(and ears) on the video for yourself, down below.