A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Beauty is about who you are on the inside. Curiosity is important. There's a certain freedom in the anonymity of digital worlds.
Positive Role Models
Several characters act out of a moral responsibility to protect others, including strangers, even if they put themselves at risk. Many examples of what it means to be a good friend.
Characters are all Japanese. Female characters are shown to be brave, brainy, and heroic.
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Violence & Scariness
Implied child abuse. A terrified child sees a parent perish in front of her (the death itself and body aren't shown, but it's clear what happens). Adult intimidates and threatens kids. Deep scratch bleeds. Rage. In a digital world, avatars attack and fight one another, but it's understood there's no real-life threat.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
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"Damn." "Hell." Name-calling, including "idiot," "loser," "old fart," "scumbag," etc. Jokes about crushes being age-inappropriate.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Belle is a coming-of-age anime fantasy that retells the Beauty and the Beast fairy tale in a slightly futuristic setting. Available both in the original Japanese (with subtitles) and in a dubbed version, it delicately deals with several big issues within a family, including (spoiler alert) loss, grief, abandonment, and abuse. None of those incidents are actually depicted, but kids are shown being threatened, and one receives a bloody scratch. Main character Suzu (voiced by Kaho Nakamura and Kylie McNeill) is still grappling with the past trauma of her mother's death, and her sadness has left her alienated from most of her classmates over the years. With the encouragement and support of her best friend, she finds comfort (and eventually strength) by re-creating herself as a beautiful avatar in a virtual environment, emboldened by her anonymity there. Themes include curiosity and beauty coming from who you are inside. Expect some name-calling ("idiot," "loser," "old fart," "scumbag," etc.) and a use of "damn," as well as jokes about possibly age-inappropriate crushes. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
Vibrantly spectacular, this anime movie imaginatively retells the Beauty and the Beast fairy tale as a humorous, heartfelt story of empowerment and self-discovery. In real life, Suzu is emotionally fragile teen dealing with the trauma of significant loss. In U, a social media metaverse, she can live a different life with the avatar and persona she creates. For viewers who, like Suzu, have difficulty expressing themselves face to face, U is a fantasy within a fantasy. It's vicariously exciting to watch Suzu become a sought-after celebrity (who still retains her anonymity) and see her confidence develop. We all want to be seen, appreciated, and celebrated for what we can offer the world, and kids in particular often feel insignificant or dismissed in the world of adults.
Director Mamoru Hosoda's film is absolutely phenomenal, but it takes a bit of a turn in the third act. Suzu takes "real world" actions that defy belief. Hiro, a computer whiz, suddenly starts pulling off feats that would impress the NSA. And adult characters knowingly allow Suzu to travel far away, alone, and into a dangerous situation. The thrill from watching a breathtaking work of perfection starts to lose a bit of steam -- at least, that's how adults and critics may see it. But for kids, Suzu finishes her journey in a way that may continue to bolster their own dreams of strength and independence. Can we ask for a more beautiful experience?
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.