Mamoru Hosoda’s highly anticipated new animated feature introduces its unique universe with a sweeping musical number that instantly immerses you in the digital world “U.”
Belle, the highly anticipated animated feature from Mamoru Hosoda, introduces its unique universe with a sweeping musical number. GKIDS has released its opening scene -- an instantly immersive tour of the digital world “U” set to the film’s theme song of the same name, performed by millennium parade.
In Belle, U is a futurist vision of social media as we know it, explained in an opening voice-over narration as a vast “virtual community with over five billion registered users… the biggest internet society in history.” The film’s protagonist, Suzu Naito, has dreams of escaping her rural hometown and finding stardom as a singer, and U allows her to create the online avatar of Belle -- a world-famous pop star whose charisma is the polar opposite of the real Suzu’s shy and subdued personality.
As the scene unfolds, dazzlingly detailed wide-shots of U pulsate to the song’s brash percussive cadence. We also learn of the U app’s “body-sharing technology,” which will presumably play a key role in bridging the gap between the film’s characters and their internet aliases.
Of course, all of this builds to our first glimpse of Belle. And in the final minute of the scene, she makes one hell of an entrance: riding atop a humpback whale in a bold red dress adorned in wildflowers. The song, we discover, is being performed by her, and the tone is set for a film that looks to be a thrilling exploration of Suzu’s deepest desires.
GKIDS paired this awesome opener with another new clip: a sequence that shows Suzu’s strange first entry into U.
The release of Hosoda’s new movie comes on the heels of its rapturous international premiere at Cannes Film Festival last fall. The director’s last film, Mirai, became the first anime feature not released by Studio Ghibli to be nominated for an Academy Award for Best Animated Film.
Released in Japan as Ryu to Sobakasu no Hime (The Dragon and the Princess of Freckles), Belle is now set to hit North American theaters and IMAX this Friday, January 14. Both its subtitled and dubbed versions will be accessible to audiences.
Watch the opening scene of Belle and other new footage from the film below: