Let’s first talk about animation. This movie is visually beautiful to watch. It was a pleasure to see not only the big virtual world but also the real world landscapes were really well done. One of my favorite scenes is at the end when Suzu sings her song to reach the dragon and the crowd of people is so touched that their hearts start to glow. Soon, Suzu is surrounded by a sea of glowing hearts. It was a really moving scene to have at the climax of the film. There are many scenes with clear inspiration from Disney Beauty and the beast which was fun to watch but some were taken to another level. For example, during the dance between Belle and the Dragon, they end up flying up in the air and being surrounded by stars because, after all, this is a virtual world.
The music was really great and probably what this movie will be known for. I really enjoyed every song sung by Belle / Suzu. They were varied enough to keep them interesting, and each one really contributed to the moment they were sung. I’ve already mentioned it, but the last song, “A Million Miles Away,” was by far my favorite. It’s an emotional moment where Suzu is finally able to sing about her mother who died when she was a child while trying to reach out to the dragon to make him trust her that she really wants to help. him.
Historically, this film is interesting, but winds around a bit. It is mainly about Suzu and her journey to overcome the grief over the loss of her mother. But it’s also about her trying to get close and find out who the Dragon character really is. After interrupting her concert, she is very determined to find out who he is. Although that desire started out wanting to expose him, it ended up that he became friends and eventually learned that he is a victim of abuse from his father’s hands. I wish we had had more scenes where Suzu / Belle talked to the dragon to give us a better sense that they are actually getting to know each other, but I have to accept that the music should take the place of these scenes . Like I said, the story wanders around a bit and tumbles in the real world and then in the virtual, it just felt like it could have been a little tighter. I found a moment of real fun when Shinobu, a very popular guy at school and Suzu’s girlfriend, in the real world touches her hand for a moment and the entire female population of the school blows up. It’s depicted as a video game with tons of factions going to war over how he liked a girl like Suzu. It’s only when Suzu and her friend assure the more sensible girls that nothing happens that everything finally calms down, but it’s a fun little moment.
At the end of the day, I really enjoyed watching Beauty and the beast story told in a more platonic way. Suzu does not end up being romantically involved with the boy behind the dragon. We end up with an almost sibling relationship where each has helped each other to have the courage to stand up to the enemies in their lives. In the case of the Dragon, his father, and in the case of Suzu, it is her misunderstanding of the events that led to her mother’s death. I really wish there had been a follow-up with the abusive father, somehow knowing that the children were coming to safety.
Overall, I would give this movie a 7/10. It was beautiful to watch and listen to, and all in all, the story was good. You can see the film in cinemas in North America from January 14 in both sub and dub.
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