“Belle” and Mamoru Hosoda

Welcome, weebs, to Animated Observations

It was announced recently that Mamoru Hosoda would be premiering his next film in Japanese theaters come 2021. As this article from Variety explains, “Paris-based sales company Charades is set to reteam with Japanese auteur Mamoru Hosoda on his next directorial outing, ‘Belle.'” The article also explains that the movie will follow a female lead and interaction within the virtual world of “U.” (Note: The Japanese title is “Ryu to Sobakasu no Hime,” which in English would be “The Dragon and the Freckled Princess.”

While this will probably already be old news by the time this post comes out, I want to take today just to celebrate this new film and Mamoru Hosoda.

Now, while he never started there, Mamoru Hosoda has slowly become one of my favorite directors of all time. His works like “The Girl Who Lept Through Time,” “Mirai,” “The Boy and the Beast,” and “Summer Wars” have slowly become some of my most cherished first time viewing experiences. On top of that, all of these films have a the sort of timeless feel that radiates from a lot of Hayao Miyazaki’s and Ghibli’s work.

After the release of his latest smash hit “Weathering with You,” There was a point in which people were starting to wonder whether which of Makoto Shinkai or Mamoru Hosoda would be considered Miyazaki’s successor. While it is certainly a fun conversation to have, ultimately I do not think it does any good to pit to great directors against each other. Still, if I had to pick one…it would probably be Hosoda.

While Shinkai does a great job at capturing feelings of youth and romance, it is rare that his films are ever grounded in any kind of substance. In fact, “Weathering With You” was probably the closest he has come so far, and even then the themes about Climate Change and the need to act are kind of secondary.

Hosoda and Miyazaki, meanwhile, do a lot to work substance into their films at nearly every turn. Miyazaki is a lot more concerned with the environment and the need to protect it, while Hosoda tends to focus on the idea of how we interact online and the need for family. For a good example of how he deals with both these themes at the same time, I would highly recommend watching his 2010 film “Summer Wars.”

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“Summer Wars” actually has a pretty similar storyline to “Belle,” at least from what is known so far, with the only major difference being the gender of the main character, though knowing Hosoda, this will probably matter quite a bit.

The internet, while having been around now for around a generation, is still a complex web of interwoven communities existing both separately and often within the same spaces. Looking at nearly any popular social media site will give a good example of this. Even here on my own website, while I am usually the only person who writes on it, there are still people like you who are reading, commenting, interacting, sharing, etc.

All of this rambling aside, Mamoru Hosoda has come a long way since his days directing “Digimon: The Movie,” and while it is clearly to early to say anything definitively, his next film will likely end up being a powerful statement about the nature of communication online, and I for one am extremely excited.


How do you feel about Mamoru Hosoda? Do you think he is a better director than Shinkai? Let me know in the comments below.

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