On the other side of the door, was time in its entirety—
Suzume is a coming-of-age story for the 17-year-old protagonist, Suzume, set in various disaster-stricken locations across Japan, where she must close the doors causing devastation.
Suzume’s journey begins in a quiet town in Kyushu (located in southwestern Japan) when she encounters a young man who tells her, “I’m looking for a door.” What Suzume finds is a single weathered door standing upright in the midst of ruins as though it was shielded from whatever catastrophe struck. Seemingly drawn by its power, Suzume reaches for the knob… Doors begin to open one after another all across Japan, unleashing destruction upon any who are near. Suzume must close these portals to prevent further disaster.
—The stars, then sunset, and the morning sky.
Makoto Shinkai is not a stranger to anime fans. While Shinkai has been involved in the animation space for decades, he is a creative who has also worked as a writer, producer, animator, editor, cinematographer, voice actor, manga artist and former graphic designer. His more recent films, Your Name (2016) and Weathering With You (2019), both of which have catapulted him as a leading animation filmmaker from Japan with international viewers.
His films usually include the weather as a very prominent element in the storytelling as well as exploring issues of communications and the joys and burdens of young people, sometimes distanced from who and what they desire to be with. Weathering With You was selected as Japan’s entry for the best international feature film category of the 2020 Academy Awards and nominated in four categories in the 47th annual Annie Awards including best animated independent feature.
Suzume had its international premiere in February 2023 at the Berlin International Film Festival (“Berlinale”), marking the first time that an anime feature film screened in the coveted competition section in over twenty years. Shinkai‘s film was met with critical acclaim and went on to gross over $300 million worldwide during its initial theatrical run, making it the fourth highest-grossing anime film of all time.
The film also earned a 96% critics score and 98% audience score on RottenTomatoes.com making it “Certified Fresh.” Suzume has also recently been nominated for the World Soundtrack Awards “Discovery of the Year” and the Asia Pacific Screen Awards “Best Animated Feature Film.” The film was also awarded Outstanding Achievement in Music at the 46th Japan Academy Awards.
Young Suzume and her companion, a talking chair, race to protect the world from impending disaster, guided by a mischievous feline. Inspired by the filmmaker’s observations in the wake of the 2011 earthquake that devastated Japan, this animated film, balancing both action and adventure, is a combination of hand drawn and CGI animation. Last year when this film first landed in theaters, I remember it set a fire in the anime and animation loving communities in a way that only Makoto Shinkai knows how to do.
From talking chair senpai jokes to lots of musing and recollections of being young and being intimately familiar with loss, Suzume was a film that took our breath away and also one that we made room for in our hearts as another solid coming of age film to adore.
Now, that it is back in theaters for a limited time, those who missed the big screen viewing have the chance to see it now, and those who already did can get the experience one more time! Perhaps this is just what we needed in regard to how art can help heal the soul: with a film that has a story about holding space for the past, for tragedies, and for ourselves, or least the younger versions of ourselves.
|SUZUME: AT A GLANCE|
|Director / Screenplay / Original Story||Makoto Shinkai|
|Character Design||Masayoshi Tanaka|
|Animation Director||Kenichi Tsuchiya|
|Art Director||Takumi Tanji|
|Production Studio||CoMix Wave Films Inc.|
|Producing Company||CoMix Wave Films. and STORY inc.|
|Copyright||© 2022 Suzume Film Partners|
Makoto Shinkai’s critically-acclaimed film Suzume returns to over 200 theaters across the United States and select cities in Canada for a special engagement starting today! Tickets on sale now: https://www.suzume-movie.com