Opening scene of the new animated film by Mamoru Hosoda

Belle, in a red dress made of flowers, sings before an adoring crowd on top of a loud speaker-covered flying whale.

Screenshot: GKids / Studio Chizu

When Mamoru hosodathe most recent animated film of Beautiful screened at the Cannes Film Festival, it received a standing ovation afterwards – not for a minute, not for two, but 14 minutes. That’s a lot, but when the Oscar-winning director of Summer wars, Wolf children, and Mirai made a new movie, people tend to be impressed. The movie is finally coming American theaters this week, if you’re feeling adventurous enough to brave the outdoors. If you’re not, how about checking out the opening minutes of this absolutely stunning film?

Here’s the official synopsis, so you have a baseline for the film: “Suzu is a 17-year-old high school student who lives in a rural village with her father. For years she was just a shadow of herself. One day, she enters “U”, a virtual world of five billion members on the Internet. There, it is no longer Suzu but Belle, a world-famous singer. She soon meets a mysterious creature. Together, they embark on a journey of adventure, challenge and love, in their quest to become who they really are.

The first few minutes of the film are mainly used to set up the concept of U, unsurprisingly. But it’s an absolutely gorgeous table, with its own theme song from the Japanese band’s Millennium Parade called “U,” of course. See!

The Japanese name of the movie is not Beautiful corn Ryū to Sobakasu no Hime, which translates to The dragon and the freckled princess. which makes a lot more sense if you’ve watched the teaser for last summer’s film, which also captures some of the melancholy Suzu is trying to escape in the real world by entering U.

Hosted by Studio Chizu, Belle’s English voice cast includes Kylie McNeill as Suzu and Belle, Paul Castro Jr. as Dragon, Chace Crawford as Justin, Jessica DiCicco as Hiro, and more. The film hits theaters and IMAX this Friday, January 14.


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