Check Out The First Three Minutes Of Manoru Hosuda’s Belle

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Mamoru Hosoda has directed some of the finest anime films of the past few years…Summer Wars, The Girl Who Leapt Through Time, The Boy and The Beast, Wolf Children and more. His next big project, Belle, is about to hit theaters…but you can watch it for free today! The first few minutes of it, anyway…

At first glance, the premise of this one feels familiar to Hosoda’s own Summer Wars (and that portion of the Digimon movie he directed): there’s this virtual reality world and it’s mega-popular and everyone participates in it. The virtual world is so real and advanced that it can authentically recreate all five human senses. There are a lot of influencers in this world, but the biggest has to be a pop star who simply goes by “BELLE.”

There’s more to Belle than her glamorous virtual persona lets on, however. Her real name is Suzu, she lives in a small community, and everyone who knows her in real life simply calls her “The Sad Girl.” Suzu lost her mother at an early age, and the advent of this virtual world is just what she needed to escape and build a new life. Everybody loves Belle in cyberspace, but there are threats she has to watch out for…like the monstrous figure that interrupts one of her concerts and wrecks everything. Suzu manages to track down the monster-man, who is simply called “the beast,” to a castle his avatar resides in. You can guess what happens from there, and why the movie’s title was localized as “Belle.”

Belle opens in US theaters January 12. The film is distributed by GKIDS.