Belle anime movie cover art

Beauty and the Beast for Zoomers

Belle (Ryuu to Sobakasu no Hime / 竜とそばかすの姫), also known as Ryuusoba, is Japanese Beauty and the Beast for zoomers. Just by looking at the cover art for the movie, you should be able to tell. But, there’s a lot more to it than that.

The main character’s name is Belle, which is the same as in Beauty and the Beast. Well, her name is Suzu (鈴 / すず), which translates to “bell.” And because of that, she’s known as Belle online. Also, there’s the Beast, which is pretty self-explanatory.

But, why do I say it’s for zoomers (Gen Z)? The movie Belle modernizes Beauty and the Beast by having most of it take place online in VR social media. Now that’s how you get the kids to relate. Also, there are a lot of cringy moments that I guess today’s kids would find compelling.

The Beast and Belle from the anime movie Belle
The Beast and Belle

If you couldn’t already tell, I didn’t like this movie. In fact, it’s the worst anime movie I’ve ever seen. But, I don’t want this review to be all doom and gloom. So, let me point out the two scenes I liked before continuing.

The first good scene comes right at the beginning of the movie when Suzu loses her mother. The whole lead-up where we got to see Suzu’s relationship with her mother was good. And so was the scene when her mother actually dies. The other good scene was when Ruka confesses to Kamishin because his reaction was funny.

Great, there were 2 good scenes. That’s not so bad, right? Well, this movie is a painful 2 hours long. Combined, these scenes might add up to 10 minutes of that 120-minute run time. They don’t make up for how boring and poorly written the rest of Belle is.

Unimaginative Digital Universe

My next complaint about Belle has to do with the digital universe it portrays. The popular social media site everyone uses in the movie is U. As I mentioned, U is a VR social media site. But, you don’t wear glasses or goggles. You put in headphones and it connects to your brain or something.

How the device works makes no sense. But, what I care about more is what U looks like. It’s an expansive space with a lot of random characters in it. There are also giant, nondescript buildings we never see inside.

This isn’t only a problem with Belle. Summer Wars was kind of the same. I’m not sure why this is how anime represent virtual worlds. There’s nothing going on within U. Everyone just floats around. And when Suzu logs in and starts doing things, they all hate it. How dare she interrupt their mindless floating.

Suzu Naitou from the anime movie Belle
Suzu Naitou

Now, in Belle’s defense, its depiction of U isn’t that far off from Meta’s (Facebook’s) Metaverse. That’s also an empty wasteland. But, at least the Metaverse (poorly) tries to be a world you can interact with. U doesn’t even have that going for it.

Another weird thing about U is that it has a moderation team led by a single, all-powerful moderator. His name is Justin because he represents justice. And how does he dish out justice? By doxxing anyone he deems to be a troublemaker. Like, that’s the official moderation policy. You don’t get banned. You get doxxed to billions of people.

There are a lot of things in Belle that make me think the creators have never used the internet. It feels like an interpretation of what the internet would become from 30 years ago. If U was real, nobody would use it. It’s garbage.

Idols Against Child Abuse

I guess now’s a good time to explain the plot of Belle. And, to be honest, I’m not entirely sure what the plot was. It went through some pretty drastic transformations over the course of the runtime. And these transformations didn’t make much sense.

At first, the movie was about how Suzu learned to sing again. Music was something she and her mother shared. So after the death of her mother, Suzu couldn’t sing anymore. But, as the anonymous Belle within U, she could sing again. If that was the whole story, it would be good.

From there, it turned into the Beauty and the Beast story you’re probably familiar with. Everyone hates the Beast. Then, Belle meets the Beast and realizes he’s not actually that bad. The problem with this part of the story is that it’s boring. I’d rather watch the Disney version.

Belle singing in U from the anime movie Belle
Belle singing in U

Where things get wild is the final act of the movie. It turns out the beast is a 14-year-old boy. This makes sense because he’s an edgy teen. But, it was also foreshadowed earlier through a story one of Suzu’s choir members told. She told of her romance with an 8th grader in her youth.

That’s not the craziest part, though. Why is the Beast a menace online? Because he’s taking out his frustration from being abused at home. His father abuses him and his younger, seemingly special-needs, brother. And guess what. Belle (Suzu) is the only person who can save them.

It makes no sense. The police say they can’t help for 48 hours even though there’s literal footage of the abuse. So, Suzu travels across Japan to save some kids from their abusive father. And then there’s some “power of music” garbage at the end. The movie sucks.


I know a lot of people won’t agree with my assessment of Belle. But, at the very least, I know there’s one person who agrees with me. The top review of the movie on MyAnimeList by user BigOat brings up a lot of the same issues I had with it.

In the end, I have to give Belle a 2/10. The only reason it’s not a 1 is that it does actually look nice. And the music is fine. Some people like the music. But, I didn’t care much about it despite music being a major theme of the movie.

And, I need to wrap up this review by reiterating that this is a 2-hour movie. That’s very long for an animated movie. For anyone thinking about watching it, be prepared.

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Finally, I’d like to thank Roman and JasonHK for supporting at the Heika tier this month. And I’d like to thank Key Mochi for supporting at the Senpai tier. To learn more about how you too can become a supporter of this blog, check out

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