Review of 'Suzume (Suzume no Tojimari)'

sazume.jpg Suzume is a young girl living in a quiet village who has a chance meeting on her way to school with a mysterious man looking for abandoned areas with doors so she directs him to a nearby abandoned onsen (bathing) resort. Eventually she follows him to the resort to find a mysterious door in the middle of a small pond. Through the door she can see another place but when she passes through the door she finds herself still in the ruins. She stumbles over a stone carving of a cat that, when pulled out of the ground, turns into a real cat that quickly runs away. Later that day she sees a mysterious column of smoke coming from the site though is surprised that no one else can see it. She returns to find the source of the column being the door which the man is trying to close. She helps him to close the door discovering that on her earlier visit she had accidentally removed the guardian stone. She learns the man's name is Souta, studying to become a teacher, whose life has been spent in closing such doors. While bandaging Souta's wounds from the experience his soul is transferred into Suzume's three-legged childhood stool so now springs to life. The two now follow the cat across the length of Japan closing doors they find open along the way. But what is actually going on, what are the doors? Why are they opening and why can't everyone see them?

I am a huge fan of Makoto Shinkai and Suzume does not disappoint with his trademark gorgeous but understated realistic animation accompanied by a quirky but intriguing story and compelling characters. The root of the story is Suzume's issues from her past and how she might come to terms with it. This serious aspect to the film is balanced with humour such as the three legged stool running around and Souta's friend Tomoya finding himself forced to drive this mysterious girl long distances in his somewhat dilapidated car. Despite these fun quirky elements, this is not a really a light film with Shinkai not being afraid to address head on the issues of unresolved childhood trauma and loss. It all feels quite real…except for the doors to other planes of existence, a talking cat that used to be carving and a walking, talking, three legged chair.

A gentle, gorgeous film that has a real heart from a master of Japanese animation.

Rating: “I have absolutely no complaints”

Review Date: 2023-05-14

Directed by: Makoto Shinkai

Studio: Aniplex

Year: 2022

Length: 122 minutes

Genre: Japanese Animation

Other reviewed films by Makoto Shinkai: