Belle (©2021 STUDIO CHIZU)

Starring (English Dubbed Version): Kylie McNeill, Paul Castro Jr., Ben Lepley, Jessica DiCicco, Manny Jacinto, Brandon Engman, Hunter Schafer, Chace Crawford, Ellyn Stern, Andrew Kishino, Noelle McGrath, David Chen, Jessica Gee George, Barbara Goodson, Martha Harms, Wendee Lee, Julie Nathanson, Kiff VandenHeuvel

Director: Mamoru Hosoda

Running Time: 124 Minutes

Rating: PG

Release Date: January 14, 2022 (Theaters)

The Mamoru Hosoda-directed Belle is the Anime Teenage Bullying version of Beauty and the Beast, and it has me wondering: would I like to be a Belle? Let’s explore this particular Belle’s story to find out.

Her real name is Suzu, and she’s a shy Japanese teenager with a dead mom, but then her titular pop star alter ego becomes a sensation in the virtual reality world known as “U.” Everybody loves Belle, just as much as they hate “The Dragon,” a scar-covered loner pariah. But Suzu/Belle sees in him a kindred spirit. Meanwhile, everybody is trying to sniff out his true identity: is he that tortured artist, or that rich reclusive housewife, or that world-famous baseball player? Chances are that this Dragon Beast will be best off if Suzu can track him down before anybody else does.

So, to answer my question: I think it’d be pretty cool to have a Belle persona if it means that everybody would get to hear my singing online. It gets a little overwhelming for Suzu, but I’d make sure to log off regularly as needed. As for the Beast portion of the story, there’s a climactic scene in which Suzu takes a train by herself to see him IRL, and that certainly fulfills the journey, but I would change it just a bit by making sure to bring a crew along with me.

Grade: 100 High Notes