Hello world. I’ve been living in Japan for 28 years though, now I realize that one of the best things when you live in Japan is you can see the latest great Japanese animation films from the very opening day. There are many sever criticisms about the situation of monopoly of animation films in today’s movie scene in Japan. When you ask Japanese “what is your favorite Japanese movie?”, I bet 80% of its answer would be animation films. That doesn’t necessarily mean Japanese not-animation films are boring though, the power of animation seems to be at its peak.
The day before yesterday was the opening day for the “BELLE” (『竜とそばかすの姫』, A dragon and a freckled princess in Japanese). I have been a huge fan for the director of the movie, Mamoru Hosoda. I fell in love with his 3 must-see legendary movies of “The Girl Who Leapt Through Time（『時をかける少女』2006）”, “Summer Wars（『サマーウォーズ』2009）”and “Wolf Children（『おおかみこどもの雨と雪』2012）”, and I realized HE is the true genius after the post-Hayao Miyazai’s era.
However, following 2 movies “The Boy and the Beast（『バケモノの子』2015）” and “MIRAI（『未来のミライ』2018）” somehow didn’t hit my heart like the previous works did to me. According to an interview that my mother watched and told me, Mr. Hosoda was trying to send messages for the generation of his children age. Therefore, me like 28 years gloomy not young child felt somehow tasteless or sense of lack of something. I remember vividly the time I persuaded a girlfriend and told how great his films are and went to see MIRAI together and I had been thinking “It’s not been fun…, but from now it would be really exciting…!!” and the credit came and I was so disappointed that I began to doubt the credibility of his films these days.
But, after all, he was great film maker now I can say. The BELLE was a great one. I can’t say it would be better than the 3 legends though, I think it is very very close to the legends personally.
I think the story would be described as this equation
“The beauty and the beast” + “Summer Wars” + “The Girl Who Leapt Through Time”/ 3 = “BELLE”.
If you are a fan of his films, you can find a lot of clues or scenes from his other movies. Some would say it’s Deja-vu and boring, but I would like to say that’s the great factor of great directors. Only great directors can make a form as classic, I think. But, it was different from Summer Wars and these 3 titles. I could cry a lot and the message was strong not enough to make me feel scolded. The balance was great compared to the previous 2 titles.
I don’t think this is a spoiler though, one of the absolute message of this film is about “problem with online smears” or “a war between 99% of people who just watch vs. 1% of people who actually do something”. I personally don’t prefer to write dirty or negative comments on some video or articles, this film would be great textbook for such problems.
Anyhow, I definitely enjoyed this film and something has changed since I watched the film. So, thank you so much Mr. Mamoru Hosoda!