Disclaimer: This review may contain Spoilers.
I just watched Gkids Belle. I came across it while scrolling through Amazon Prime looking for something to watch. I later found I could have watched it for free on other streaming services, but I was quite intrigued and paid the $4.99 to rent it for the day on Amazon Prime. I had not heard of it or read or watched anything about it before seeing the trailer at that very moment. From the trailer and honestly almost the first hour of the film, I had no idea it was basically “Beauty and the Beast”.
When I realized it was “Beauty and the Beast” I loved it more. Prior to that, I assumed it was about a girl whose mother died who escaped her sorrow in a virtual reality mobile game app. In fact, when the beast first appeared, I thought it was rather cheesy and taking away from the story of the grieving girl…
It wasn’t until much later, like I said, maybe about an hour into the movie, when in the same brown cape with the same hair style as Disney’s Belle, that Belle entered the Beast’s Castle, that I finally realized, oh this is Beauty and the Beast.
The secret rose garden, the tiny angel who reminded me then of chip, all of the other little enchanted small creatures watching excitedly as she grew closer to the Beast, left the beast, returned to the Beast, etc. Their grand dance while the castle lights up glittering gold. The angles of the view of the overhead ballroom. The grand staircase. I suddenly realized I was basically watching a Japanese anime version of Beauty and the Beast.
Disney’s Beauty and the Beast was one of my favorites. We’ve watched it many times, and when we went to Disney World last October we dined at the Beasts’ Castle just to get to see some poor schlub dressed in a (probably very hot) Beast costume. I’ve seen both the cartoon and the live action musical numerous times.
I know Disney did not create the Beauty and the Beast – in fact, in recent years, historians believe it’s actually a true story of a disfigured young boy (prince) born out of a concubine romance, sent away to his own castle/land because the father couldn’t stand to look at his disfigurement.
The recently “indefinite hiatus” boy band KPOP sensation even have a song about Beauty and The Beast – BTS The Truth Untold. With numerous lovely fans making English fan translations.
Then there are some that suspect the “true” “real” Beast is a man with Ambras Syndrome, hair covering his face and body.
We may never know which true story inspired Beauty and the Beast, perhaps a little bit of both seeing as both true stories are from Italy, where the first published printed version of this fairy tale is found. The first story which BTS based their hit song on seems more closely related, with a rose garden, “Belle” picking the rose, angering the beast, and the beast chasing after Belle. Belle in that story was also poor and her family sick. Belle herself never did “return” to the Beast and died sick and poor. The Beast kept waiting alone for Belle to return.
Meanwhile we have the second version of history where a man has hair on his body and still marries a beautiful woman and has children and a life together – although much more tragically. Not out of love, and held more captive, and even their children sold as pets.
Both stories are far sadder than the Disney – and sadder than GKIDs Beauty and The Beast.
But back to GKIDs Belle…
I was immediately drawn in by the trailer. The art style was quite unusual, it threw me for a loop. It reminded me of 80s and early 90s anime in its character design and presentation, but yet with modern day graphics and effects.
The music and singing in the dub is … OK…. sometimes good… sometimes bad… I will probably go back and watch it subbed at some point… I’m sure the Japanese cast is much better.
Singing aside, the voice acting was OK in the dub. I don’t have any complaints.
The story is a little sad, but has a happy ending.
It’s also a mystery who the Beast is. I had an assumption that it was Belle’s father because he was hurting too, from the death of his wife, Belle’s mother, and Belle’s seeming disconnect to her Father. I thought it would help heal their relationship and everything be happy in the end. – That isn’t what happened. He wasn’t the Beast.
I won’t tell you who the Beast is – you will have to watch for yourself.
Here’s my score for GKID’s Belle.
Concept: 10/10 – A Tale as old as time… The story of the beauty and the beast is a fascinating one. It gives hope to all who search for love – even if some of the true history behind the story is quite sad and tragic. The fairytale itself teaches us that no matter how ugly we are on the outside, there are people who will love and appreciate us for our inner beauty. It also teaches us that we must stop hiding, remove our mask, and let others get close to us, even if that means getting hurt sometimes, because if we don’t take those risks, we will be alone forever.
Story: 7/10 – I enjoyed the mystery, but honestly despite the title, I didn’t realize I was watching Beauty and the Beast until an hour into the movie, and then when I DID realize that, I couldn’t stop comparing it to the Disney version, and thinking how much better the Disney version is. I’m not always like this. For example. I GREATLY prefer the 80s anime version of The Little Mermaid where she turns to seafoam at the end. It’s so tragic and beautiful and sad and romantic – oh and it follows the original story more closely than Disney’s everything must be happy 24/7 version. Hmm but in this case, Disney did Beauty and the Beast better than Gkids. And there’s some scenes I feel like Gkids just outright stole from Disney. I know Disney did not create this fairy tale. There’s many versions of it out there… but come on… the brown cape and the hair pulled back in a single pony tail, and the dance scene – that’s a little too close for comfort here. How did Disney let them get away with this? Yet they banned Kimba for decades – Disney is usually lawyer and money hungry and seems they would have chomped at the bit to block Belle? Maybe they haven’t seen it yet – so go watch it while you can before Disney gets it canned. I also did enjoy the other aspects and original parts of the story… Like the biometrics app where everyone’s avatar is from their biometric data. I wish that was a real app. So cool!
Characters: 6/10 – The characters felt a little flat to me. Sure Belle is pretty well fleshed out, her mom died, she’s sad and stopped singing, then the app comes along and she can hide and be someone else and sing again…. The rest of the characters are underdeveloped including the Beast who we don’t learn much about until the last ten minutes or so of the film – although when we do learn who he is it’s very touching. Belle’s classmates and friends have their own stories and relationships and problems too… I think most of all her dad was underdeveloped because Belle tries to ignore and avoid him until the very end.
Graphics: 10/10 – I loved the graphics because the character designs reminded me of 80s and 90s anime I grew up with and almost no one is making those style characters anymore. Combined with stunning modern day visuals and graphic effects. It was amazing to watch.
Voice Acting: 4/10 As mentioned, I watched it dubbed first which is probably my mistake. They tried… But unlike Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, Belle didn’t really have a great singing voice… kinda cringe. If I go back and watch the sub, I’ll most likely come in and re-rate this higher which will impact the overall score.
Overall: 37/50 74% “Good Anime For Girls”