SPOILER WARNINGS: If you haven’t seen this movie yet, please don’t read this.
I just spent the afternoon watching this and I ended up crying so hard through the movie. Not to the spoilers yet, but a lot of the themes of this film hit close to home so I had a lot of intense feelings throughout the entire thing. This was directed by one of my favorite people.
Mamoru Hosoda is a Japanese film director and animator. Formerly employed at Toei Animation, he went to work at Madhouse from 2005 to 2011. Hosoda left Madhouse in 2011 to establish his own animation studio, Studio Chizu. He first came to public attention in the early 2000s with the first two films in the Digimon Adventure series and the sixth film in the One Piece series.IMDb Mini Biography By: Pedro Borges
In the later 2000s, he diversified more with other films, including 2006’s The Girl Who Leapt Through Time, 2009’s Summer Wars, and 2012’s Wolf Children.
The Girl Who Leapt Through Time, Summer Wars, Wolf Children, The Boy and the Beast, and Mirai are some of the biggest movies I can tie to Mamoru Hosoda. These are all movies that I could watch on repeat. Plus the soundtrack for Belle has been stuck in my head since before I saw the movie.
Just a little snippet of the soundtrack:
This was in theaters for a short time here in the USA, but most of the locations were so far away that I couldn’t justify going. Even though I was willing to go alone if I really needed to. Are you the type who only goes to the movie theaters with someone else? Or do you enjoy going alone so that you can enjoy the movie fully?
Expect spoilers after this point.
IMDB’s summary was pretty tame:
Suzu is a shy 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 globally-beloved singer.https://www.imdb.com/title/tt13651628/
As always, anime somehow makes the small-town rural settings even look interesting. I wonder if someone took an anime filter to my area if that would make it look as amazing as some of the scenes from this movie.
Suzu goes through some real trauma. She loses her mother. Not even in the classic “got sick and died” troupe. I haven’t actually figured out how it fits into the theme of the movie, but water is something that is a reoccurring focus. Maybe because Suzu’s mother drowns? But at some point, her online personae rides around on a giant humpback whale covered in speakers. Important scenes happen near bodies of water or during rain.
We’re all dreaming of virtual reality that can be as intense as depicted in this movie. Maybe someday soon we’ll have something? I know that the googles are becoming more and more accessible. Being able to escape from reality is a lot of the reason why people roleplay in MMO’s and tabletop games. I couldn’t find the quote while I was writing this post, but the welcoming AI tells you “Welcome to the world of U.” You can’t restart or have a do-over in real life, but you can in this virtual reality. Your avatar called an “AS” in the movie, is based on your biometrics. Pretty cool idea.
The visuals were beautiful, amazing, and breathtaking. And the story did NOT take the exact turns that I had predicted. Characters didn’t fit into the molds that I had made assumptions about at the beginning of the movie. So I was pleasantly surprised. My SO pointed out that this did have some Beauty and the Beast vibes. Literally, the main character was “Bell” (Suzu in Japanese 鈴 means bell.) and the antagonist was the “Beast” or the Dragon. There’s a castle and a few other similarities to the “Beauty and the Beast” story, but not a really strong parallel. It had its own amazing story and I’ve fallen in love.
I can’t wait for this movie to come out on official movie streaming services. I had to pick around to find it online. I recommend checking it out if you loved any of Mamoru Hosoda‘s other films. You won’t be disappointed! I swear. Thanks for stopping in as usual and looking forward to seeing you tomorrow.