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Watch the first scene of Mamoru Hosoda’s Belle, an anime riff on Beauty and the Beast

The movie opens in America on Jan. 12

Since Mamoru Hosoda’s anime movie Belle premiered at the Cannes Film Festival in July 2021 — just one day ahead of its Japanese opening — it’s become one of the year’s most anticipated anime movie releases. Over the past decade, Hosoda has built a reputation as one of Japan’s most celebrated and recognizable anime movie writers and directors, for his heady, visually lush films The Girl Who Leapt Through Time, Summer Wars, Wolf Children, The Boy and the Beast, and Mirai. Belle, the latest movie from Hosoda’s Studio Chizu, is a futuristic riff on the classic Beauty and the Beast story. Distribution company GKIDS has now posted the English-dubbed version of the movie’s opening scene online.

Belle takes place in a near future where seemingly everyone on Earth has the option to plug into a virtual reality called U, which automatically generates an avatar for them based on their biometric information. U is billed as a perfect sensory replica of reality, and the online space’s mysterious creators invite users to start over and live their lives in U. The opening scene introduces the concept and the setting — and introduces Belle, a singer who’s become the breakout viral star of U, for the innovative and personal songs she sings. Past this opening scene, it immediately becomes clear that there’s a lot more to Belle than her online persona, but the opening sequence itself is just a celebration of color and energy as Belle performs for her adoring crowds.

Belle arrives in American theaters on Jan. 14, with IMAX previews starting Jan 12. The film’s full English-language trailer is below.

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