Director Mamoru Hosuda has announced that he is working on a new anime film, titled Belle, or Ryū to Sobakase no Hime in Japanese, which translates to The Dragon and the Freckled Princess. Hosuda, who is an Academy Award-nominated director and has worked on anime movies like MIRAI, Summer Wars, Wolf Children, and The Girl Who Leapt Through Time, will be both directing and writing the script for the movie. Studio Chizu, which is Hosuda’s animation studio, made this announcement on Tuesday. This film is scheduled for a summer 2021 release in theatres in Japan and will be marking the animation studio’s tenth anniversary. The film will be released by TOHO and produced by Yuichiro Sato, who is the president of Chizu.
Studio Chizu is proud to present Director Mamoru Hosoda's upcoming film, #BELLE coming to theaters in Japan in the Summer of 2021.
— Studio Chizu (@StudioChizu) December 15, 2020
Charades, which is a Paris-based sales company, has collaborated with Hosuda and Studio Chizu for the film. They had previously worked together for MIRAI, which received both Oscar and Golden Globe nominations. Yohann Comte, the partner at Charades, spoke about this project: “I’ve been following closely the evolution of Mamoru Hosoda’s brilliant work over the past years. His voice keeps surprising us, film after film. We are eager to discover his new take on the topical and universal themes he masters. We are very proud to handle the sales of his most ambitious film to date.”
The first concept art for the movie was also released, and it depicts an “ever-evolving online world”, according to Studio Chizu. An online world called “U”, which has more than 5 billion users around the world, is the setting. The protagonist is a teenage girl who lives between modern-day Japan and this online world. The press release speaks of themes like “coming of age, family ties, love between parents and children, a friendship that transcends species, the links between our lives.” Chizu also mentions other films of Hosuda’s where the online world plays an important role, like Digimon: Our War Game and 2009 hit Summer Wars; but with more recent insights on the modern world by the director. Hosuda had mentioned back in October that his next project would be “a great piece of work.”, and that the work on its storyboards had been finished.