Suzume continues Makoto Shinkai’s tradition of delivering heartfelt stories that touch on love, grief, and the relationship between man and nature. Thanks to his reputation for creating visually stunning movies that explore complex themes and emotions, Shinkai has established himself as a master of anime. For those familiar with the director’s previous works, Suzume feels familiar in many ways, as the film deals with themes he has already tackled in works such as 5 Centimeters per Second, The Garden of Wordsand Your name. However, Suzume also delves deeper into some of the darker aspects of human experiences, such as losing a parent. The result is Shinkai’s most mature work to date.
Presented as the first Japanese anime feature film in competition at the Berlin International Film Festival in two decades, Suzume is a coming-of-age story that follows its 17-year-old protagonist, Suzume (voiced by Nanoka Hara), as she travels to various locations across Japan. Suzume’s life takes an unexpected turn after meeting the mysterious Sōta (Hokuto Matsumura), who reveals that he is a Closer, one of the people charged with closing certain doors before they let a powerful worm that causes earthquakes.
When Sōta unexpectedly turns into a three-legged chair, Suzume takes it upon herself to close these portals and prevent further damage. Suzume’s adventure takes her to many disaster-stricken areas across Japan, meeting new people and facing many challenges. The further away Suzume is from home, the more she discovers about herself and her past.
Again, the nature message of Shinkai’s work plays an important role. The protagonist’s adventures take place in locations that have been abandoned or destroyed by natural disasters, a theme that has been deeply felt in Japan after the earthquake of March 2011. Shinkai emphasizes the need to save places from lack of -care, besides preserving it for future generations.
The author’s use of light and color in his films has always been a defining characteristic of his work, and Suzume no exceptions. The film’s depictions of the natural world with vivid colors and subtle lighting are a visual treat for the eyes.
Suzume’s journey eventually leads her to Ever-After, a mysterious world where the past, present, and future converge and blend until they become the same thing. Ever-After introduces the theme of the grieving process as Suzume struggles to come to terms with her mother’s death. The film handles with sensitivity and grace the journey to acceptance, a reminder that love can help us find our way through difficult times.
In general, Suzume is a movie that delivers on the promise of Shinkai’s previous works while exploring new themes and emotions. In addition to its emotional score, the film’s unique visuals, relatable characters, and masterful narration Suzume is an outstanding entry in Shinkai’s impressive filmography and a must-see for anime fans. SuzumeShinkai’s ability to balance heartbreaking moments with a sense of hope is a testament to Shinkai’s talent. In the US, the film hits theaters on April 14.
As ComingSoon policy review explains, a score of 9 equals “Good.”