Mamoru Hosoda and Jin Kim: Belle, A Disney Love Story


Belle is an animated movie brought to life from the mind of anime veteran Mamoru Hosoda. Meet Suzu, a struggling high schooler and the main character of this story. After receiving an invitation to the Virtual community U, Suzu becomes the majestic songstress known as Belle. Belle’s popularity soars as she becomes the talk of the town. After a chance encounter with an unknown user known as Beast, a new mystery unfolds. 

Aight so boom…

Girl with short black hair in front of a waterfront in anime movie called Belle

A Mamoru Hosoda project screams, a Mamoru Hosoda project. His style is distinct and can be recognized through backgrounds, character designs, and even the kind of storytelling.  And when you know- you know!  

But that’s not the only recognizable thing about Belle. And I couldn’t quite put my hands on it.  While binging through some behind-the-scenes content, I got my answer. Belle was designed by longtime Disney animator Jin Kim. My mind is blown, because looking at her, it just made sense. Let’s be honest, when it comes to animation Disney is the pinnacle of what this medium can be.  They have broken their character designs, stories, and merchandising down to a formula that has been hashed out over and over again for decades. But let’s not get too far off-topic.

a girl with long pink hair in a colorful background from the movie Belle.

First thoughts on Belle 

One of the 1st things I noticed about Belle was how beautiful the animation was. The colors were bright and popped off the screen effortlessly.  I opted for the English dub and loved it.  The dialog and acting were solid.  I would recommend it. 

I don’t know what I expected when walking into this movie but I was caught off guard.  The scene where Suzu’s mother drowned, slapped the shit out of me. I wasn’t expecting that type of heavy-handed behavior so soon. It wasn’t so much about what happened but rather more about how it happened.  It wasn’t graphic or dragged out by any means. And yet, it sticks with you. 

This movie peels back the layers. We got to see who Suzu really was. And why is she the way she is? Her sorrows, trauma, and how she was so much more. Sometimes people who hurt the most have the biggest smiles and other times really dark aura. We got to see the parallel between (Belle) Suzu and Kei (Beast).  

Other Observations

This movie was real and raw. Exciting! And filled with love and pain. The emotions bleed like a mafucka. Dubs don’t normally connect in the same way the native tongue does when it comes to anime (or any foreign media really ) but this time was different. It was so good.  The North American team did their thing. 

I like to believe that working with Japanese staff members, helped a lot but what do I know? This allowed them to create something unique for English viewers while staying true to Mr. Hosoda’s vision. I can’t believe I’m saying this but I highly recommend the dub. The voice cast features newcomers like Kylie McNeill and veteran voice-over talents like Ellyn Stern and Wendee Lee. Plus the music is pretty dope too. So check it out.

Have you seen Belle? If so, what did you think? If not, is this a something that you would be interested in watching? Let me know in the comment section below.

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2 thoughts on “Mamoru Hosoda and Jin Kim: Belle, A Disney Love Story

  1. I saw Belle in theaters last year when it premiered in the US and it was such a beautiful experience. Like you said, you just know when it’s a Mamoru Hosoda joint. His style is so unique that no matter the topic, his films always feel like him.

    1. facts. his films kinda remind me of sun showers. They get heavy and unexpected so quickly and then. it stops and the sun returns cuz things are all good.

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