Belle (2021)

image for Belle (2021)

Short takes

Not suitable under 9; parental guidance to 12 (themes of parental death, grief, emotional abuse, domestic violence; cyberbullying; animated violence (fighting scenes), scary characters)

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Belle (2021)
  • a review of Belle (2021) completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 24 January 2022.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 9 Not suitable due to themes of parental death, grief, emotional abuse, domestic violence; cyberbullying; animated violence (fighting scenes), and scary characters.
Children aged 9–12 Parental guidance recommended due to themes of parental death, grief, emotional abuse, domestic violence; cyberbullying; animated violence (fighting scenes), and scary characters.
Children over the age of 12 Ok for this age group.

About the movie

This section contains details about the movie, including its classification by the Australian Government Classification Board and the associated consumer advice lines.

Name of movie: Belle (2021)
Classification: PG
Consumer advice lines: Mild themes and animated violence
Length: 121 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

Suzu (Japanese: Kaho Nakamura, English: Kylie McNeill) is a shy, high school student living in a small Japanese village. Ever since her mother died in a tragic accident a few years prior, Suzu has been feeling sad, lonely and disconnected from the world. However, a whole new world of opportunities opens up when Suzu joins the Internet society, “U”, where its five billion users live an alternative reality. Using Suzu’s biometric information – to her shock and surprise – U’s intelligent software creates Suzu’s avatar, Belle, who is stunningly beautiful and gifted with a beautiful voice. Before long, Belle becomes the most famous singer and fashion icon within the digital universe but as she is about to give the biggest concert in U history, a beast-like creature, known as “The Dragon” (Japanese: Takeru Satoh, English: Paul Castro Jr.), shows up and creates havoc. U’s security want to unveil The Dragon’s real-life identity before banning him but, equipped with immense strength, the beast escapes. Belle finds herself scared, but also intrigued and curious, sensing that there is a deeply troubled and hurting soul hiding under the scary exterior.

Themesinfo

Children and adolescents may react adversely at different ages to themes of crime, suicide, drug and alcohol dependence, death, serious illness, family breakdown, death or separation from a parent, animal distress or cruelty to animals, children as victims, natural disasters and racism. Occasionally reviews may also signal themes that some parents may simply wish to know about.

Animé; Japanese; Fantasy; Science Fiction; Music; Loose reinterpretation of popular fairy tale (Beauty and the Beast).

Use of violenceinfo

Research shows that children are at risk of learning that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution when violence is glamourised, performed by an attractive hero, successful, has few real life consequences, is set in a comic context and / or is mostly perpetrated by male characters with female victims, or by one race against another.

Repeated exposure to violent content can reinforce the message that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution. Repeated exposure also increases the risks that children will become desensitised to the use of violence in real life or develop an exaggerated view about the prevalence and likelihood of violence in their own world.

There is some violence in this movie, including:

  • Characters get chased, punched, and have objects thrown at them.
  • The Dragon’s castle gets burned down and some virtual characters appear to perish.
  • A father verbally, emotionally and physically threatens and abuses his sons. He also threatens Suzu, grabs and shakes her, and causes a bleeding scratch across her cheek.

Material that may scare or disturb children

Under fiveinfo

Children under five are most likely to be frightened by scary visual images, such as monsters, physical transformations.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children under the age of five, including the following:

  • The Dragon is a large beast-like creature, with a big snout, sharp teeth, horns and claws. He has a scary and intimidating roar.
  • In back-flashes, Suzu repeatedly relives the trauma of losing her beloved mother: she is seen getting washed away in a wild river, in an attempt to save a young girl. It is implied that she drowned. Suzu is seen struggling with her grief, even years later. The theme of parental loss could be upsetting and triggering, especially for children who have experienced loss.

Aged five to eightinfo

Children aged five to eight will also be frightened by scary visual images and will also be disturbed by depictions of the death of a parent, a child abandoned or separated from parents, children or animals being hurt or threatened and / or natural disasters.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes and scary visual images, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children aged five to eight, including the following:

  • Children in this age group are likely to be scared or disturbed by the above-mentioned scenes and images.

Aged eight to thirteeninfo

Children aged eight to thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic threats and dangers, violence or threat of violence and / or stories in which children are hurt or threatened.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children aged eight to thirteen, including the following:

  • Some children in this age group are likely to be scared or disturbed by the above-mentioned scenes and images.

Over thirteeninfo

Children over the age of thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic physical harm or threats, molestation or sexual assault and / or threats from aliens or the occult.

  • Nothing further of concern.

Product placement

  • None noted.

Sexual references

There are some sexual references in this movie, including:

  • It is implied that Suzu’s friend has a crush on a teacher who appears a lot older than her.

Nudity and sexual activity

There is some nudity and sexual activity in this movie, including:

  • A male baseball player is seen topless.

Use of substances

  • None noted.

Coarse language

There is some coarse language in this movie, including:

  • Idiot
  • Shut up
  • What the Hell
  • Damn.

In a nutshell

Belle (2021) is a Japanese animated movie, loosely based on the classic, French fairy tale, Beauty and the Beast. The film is a spectacular firework display for the senses, containing positive and inspiring role models, and important lessons about self-confidence, self-worth, values, friendship, and family. Themes of parental death, grief, emotional abuse, domestic violence, as well as animated violence (fighting scenes), cyberbullying, and scary characters make it unsuitable for a young or sensitive audience, and warrant parental guidance for children aged 9 to 12.

The main messages from this movie are that true beauty comes from the inside; and that we can go over and beyond ourselves if we are fighting for something we truly believe in.

Values in this movie that parents may wish to reinforce with their children include:

  • Caring for others
  • Self-confidence
  • Self-expression
  • Being genuine and authentic
  • Curiosity
  • Kindness
  • Friendship
  • Courage.

This movie could also give parents the opportunity to discuss with their children attitudes and behaviours, and their real-life consequences, such as:

  • Dangers of social media and virtual realities: It is tempting to create an idealised image of oneself on social media and escape into virtual realities but it is dangerous if you lose touch with real life. Suzu does not only enjoy fame and popularity but also has to endure cyberbullying and harsh criticism from other users. Parents can also discuss how social media can be a source of envy, when, in reality, what we see on social media is only a filtered and airbrushed version. Suzu makes the brave decision to ‘unveil’ her true self: when she lets go off her glamourised avatar, she realises that her true self is truly beautiful.

This movie could also give parents the opportunity to discuss with their children the importance of seeking help when you are struggling emotionally. For a long time, Suzu tries to deal with her trauma and grief on her own and rejects help, only to find herself depressed and lonely.