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GKIDS Release Mamoru Hosoda's 'Belle' In Cinemas Next January

There are several Japanese animation directors who have been labelled by some as "the next Hayao Miyazaki". Of these filmmakers, the one who so far most lives up to this title is probably Mamoru Hosoda. Although he has developed a style and voice of his own, his films have seen his reputation grow with each film. 

It was with 2018's Mirai that he really landed on the world stage, bagging nominations both from Oscar and Golden Globe, and winning Annie Awards and The Japanese Academy Prize for best feature (independent) and best animation film respectively. His follow up Belle, which opened in Japanese cinemas this summer seems to be being even more warmly received.  The film played in competition at this year's Cannes festival (a rarity for any animated film, and a first for an anime) and was also selected to screen at various other festivals around the world, including The BFI London Film FestivalScotland Loves Anime, The New York Film Festival, Fantastic Fest, Sitges and Lyon. Everywhere it has played so far it has been to rave reviews.

The film's west coast premiere will take place at the Animation is Film festival later this month, and be accompanied by an in-person Q&A with Hosoda himself. If you can't be in Hollywood to see that, don't be too down, as GKIDS Films have now announced the US release date for the film.

Previously we were promised the film would land in 'early 2022'. It turns out it couldn't get all that much earlier as it will be released on January 14, 2022. So you won't have to wait too long!

Belle is a return for Hosoda to the sci-fi worlds of his earlier Summer Wars, and is a reimagined spin on Beauty and The Beast for the digital age. It takes place in a world where a hugely popular virtual world called U has become all the rage. The story follows a shy high schooler named Suzu who transforms into a globally worshipped idol singer called Belle in the digital realm. One day one of her concerts is interrupted by a monstrous Beast, and Suzu/Belle decides to try and discover the true identity behind this mysterious figure.

Hosoda collaborated with international artists for the first time on this film. He brought on board Disney character designer Jin Kim, Wolfwalkers directors Tomm Moore and Ross Stewart, architect and designer Eric Wong and composer Ludvig Forsell (best known for his collaborations with video game designer Hideo Kojima) to create a true creative dream team. This only makes the film all the more exciting for animation fans.

Belle opened in Japanese cinemas on July 16, and has gone on to become Hosoda's highest grossing film there to date. Further information about the US release will be announced nearer the time. Anime Limited have also announced that they will release the film in the United Kingdom and Ireland in early 2022.

GKIDS has released two new teasers for the film, check them out below.

From the celebrated Academy Award®-nominated director Mamoru Hosoda and Studio Chizu, creators of Mirai, Wolf Children, Summer Wars, and more, comes a fantastical, heartfelt story of growing up in the age of social media.

Suzu is a shy, everyday high school student living in a rural village. For years, she has only been a shadow of herself. But when she enters “U”, a massive virtual world, she escapes into her online persona as Belle, a gorgeous and globally-beloved singer. One day, her concert is interrupted by a monstrous creature chased by vigilantes. As their hunt escalates, Suzu embarks on an emotional and epic quest to uncover the identity of this mysterious “beast” and to discover her true self in a world where you can be anyone.