Ireland's Cartoon Saloon (Wolfwalkers, Song of the Sea) collaborates with Studio Chizu
TOHO began streaming the full trailer for Mamoru Hosoda and his Studio Chizu's new Belle (Ryū to Sobakasu no Hime, literally "The Dragon and the Freckled Princess") anime film on Thursday. The trailer announces that the film will open in Japan in July.
The staff also unveiled character designs of the title characer Belle by Jin Kim (Frozen, Tangled, Big Hero 6, Moana). According to Chizu, "Mamoru Hosoda and Jin have long respected each other's work but met for the first time when Mirai was nominated for an Oscar in Los Angeles. There, they promised to one day work on something creatively together and finally realized that goal with Belle."
Chizu also confirmed that Eric Wong, a London-based architect and designer, created the concept artwork for the film's online world of U. According to Chizu, "Hosoda personally found and commissioned Eric to come up with this universal and international "internet space" from both an architectural and design perspective."
Chizu annoounced that it is teaming up with the Oscar-nominated Irish studio Cartoon Saloon (Wolfwalkers, Song of the Sea, The Secret of Kells) for this film. In particular, Cartoon Saloon's Tomm Moore and Ross Stewart collaborated on the film.
Hosoda (The Girl Who Leapt Through Time, Summer Wars,The Boy and The Beast, Mirai) is directing and scripting the film, and is also credited for the original work. The film marks Studio Chizu's 10th anniversary.
Chizu describes the story:Our protagonist, Suzu, is a 17-year old high school girl, who lives in the countryside of Kochi Prefecture with her father, after losing her mother at a young age.
She loves singing with her mother more than anything else, but as a result of her mother's death was no longer able to sing.
It wasn't long before she and her father grew more and more distant from each other, and Suzu closed her heart to the rest of the world.
When Suzu felt that writing music was her only purpose left in life, she then discovers the massive online space known as “U,” where she takes on her persona, Belle.
Another me. Another reality. We are no longer limited to a single world.
Suzu quickly realizes that when she is inside “U” as her avatar, Belle, she can sing quite naturally. As she continues to showcase her own music in the virtual world, she fast becomes the rising star of “U.”
Nonetheless, that surprise is short-lived. Suddenly, a mysterious dragon-shaped creature appears before her...
Studio Chizu's previously announced that the film would portray an "ever-evolving online world" that takes place in an online world called "U," which has 5 billion registered users. Studio Chizu mentioned Hosoda's past films where virtual words play a key role, such as Digimon Adventure: Children's War Game and Summer Wars, as similar titles of exploring modern society, but based on the director's "recent insights." The studio specifically mentioned themes of "coming of age, family ties, love between parents and children, friendship that transcends species, the links between our lives."
Sources: Press release, Comic Natalie