Suzu (voiced in Japanese by Kaho Nakamura; voiced in English by Kylie McNeill) is a shy high school student living in a small Japanese village. Ever since her mother died in a tragic accident a few years before, Suzu has been feeling sad, lonely and disconnected from the world.
A whole new world of opportunities opens up when Suzu joins an internet society called U, where 5 billion users live in an alternative reality. Using Suzu’s biometric information, U’s intelligent software creates Suzu’s avatar, Belle. Belle is stunningly beautiful and gifted with a beautiful voice.
Before long, Belle becomes the most famous singer and fashion icon in the digital universe. As she’s about to give the biggest concert in U history, a beast-like creature known as the Dragon (voiced in Japanese by Takeru Satoh; voiced in English by Paul Castro Jr) appears and creates havoc. U’s security want to unveil the Dragon’s real-life identity before banning him, but the Dragon has immense strength and escapes.
Belle is scared but also intrigued and curious, sensing that there’s a deeply troubled and hurt soul hiding under the Dragon’s scary exterior.
Animé; Japanese; fantasy; science fiction; music; loose reinterpretation of popular fairy tale (Beauty and the Beast)
Belle has some violence. For example:
- Characters get chased and punched and have objects thrown at them.
- The Dragon’s castle gets burned down and some virtual characters appear to die.
- A father verbally, emotionally and physically threatens and abuses his sons. He also threatens Suzu, grabs and shakes her, and causes a bleeding scratch across her cheek.
Belle has some sexual references. For example, it’s implied that Suzu’s friend has a crush on a teacher who seems to be a lot older than the friend.
Alcohol, drugs and other substances
There’s no use of substances in Belle.
Nudity and sexual activity
Belle has some mild nudity. For example, a male baseball player is shown topless.
There’s no product placement in Belle.
Belle has some mild coarse language, including ‘idiot’, ‘shut up’, ‘what the hell’ and ‘damn’.
Ideas to discuss with your children
Belle is a Japanese animation, loosely based on the classic fairytale, Beauty and the Beast. It’s beautifully animated and has positive and inspiring role models, plus important lessons about self-confidence, self-worth, values, friendship and family.
Belle has themes of parental death, grief, emotional abuse and family violence, as well as animated fighting scenes, cyberbullying and scary characters. These elements make it unsuitable for a young or sensitive audience. We also recommend parental guidance for children aged 9-12 years.
These are the main messages from Belle:
- True beauty comes from the inside.
- We can go beyond expectations if we’re fighting for something we truly believe in.
Values in Belle that you could reinforce with your children include care for others, self-confidence, self-expression, genuineness and authenticity, curiosity, kindness, friendship and courage.
Belle could give you the chance to talk with your children about real-life issues like the benefits and pitfalls of social media and virtual reality. For example, as her avatar Belle, Suzu enjoys fame and popularity, but she also endures cyberbullying and harsh criticism from other U users. And when Suzu makes the brave decision to ‘unveil’ her true self and let go of her glamorous avatar, she realises that her true self is truly beautiful.
You could also talk with your children about the importance of seeking help when you’re struggling emotionally. For a long time, Suzu tries to deal with trauma and grief on her own. She rejects help, only to find herself depressed and lonely.