Suzume Review

Tuesday 18 April 2023

Plot: A modern action adventure road story where a 17-year-old girl named Suzume helps a mysterious young man close doors from the other side that are releasing disasters all over in Japan.

Film: Suzume

Director: Makoto Shinkai

Writers: Makoto Shinkai

Starring: Nanoka Hara, Hokuto Matsumura, Eri Fukatsu

Suzume, titled for the main character, follows the 17-year-old who lives on the Japanese island of Kyushu. Suzume (Nanoka Hara) lives with her aunt Tamaki (Eri Fukatsu) following the death of her mother when she was child. On a seemingly normal day, Suzume meets Souta (Hokuto Matsumura) who tells her he’s looking for ruins and subsequently a door. After pointing the stranger in the right direction, Suzume can’t resist going to investigate herself, but she gets more than she bargained for. 

Like any good coming of age story, Suzume, gets to go on an amazing adventure with a mysterious stranger, discovers things about herself she never knew and meets all kinds of people on her way. This was the highlight for me. First Suzume meets Chika (Kotone Hanase) a girl from Shikoku, which is where the second door is located and the two become fast friends, Shinkai takes times to establish this bond before Suzume has to leave and moves on to Kobe with help from Rumi (Sairi Itô), and again we spend scenes not necessarily progressing the story but instead building these personal relationships that will help her make a tough decision later in the film. 

The premise of the story is that Suzume and Souta must close doors that have opened in abandoned places, some of the most visually impactful locations, to stop something coming through and destroying Japan. No one else can see this creature and the residents of the various towns and cities are only aware that something is happening is through sporadic earthquakes. Something Japan is known for is its regular earthquakes, 1500 a year in fact, so to those who live there, this wouldn’t be anything out of the ordinary. This blend of the natural and supernatural is done so well, using something known to explain something spiritual is clever storytelling and makes the story feel more immersive even in animation. 

The only downside for me is that the film feels as though it ends in Tokyo, it’s a heart-breaking climax but the sacrifices made by Suzume and Souta feel satisfying and had the film ended there, I would have left a much more changed person than I did half an hour later. That being said, the ending we get while not as emotionally impactful in some ways, still ties everything together with a neat bow despite feeling a little rushed. 

As with all of Shinkai’s work, Suzume feels so personal. You get entangled in the main characters backstory in the opening scenes and the whole experience from then on is visually and emotionally spectacular. A must see for any anime fan and an exciting starting point for anyone wanting to get into the genre. 

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