Suzume (すずめの戸締まり)


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.

Makoto Shinkai is the newest superstar in the world of anime, with his debut film ‘Your Name’ proving a massive success, and his follow up ‘Weathering With You’ not doing too badly either. His third film ‘Suzume’ is very much of the same tone as those two movies and builds on Shinkai’s fascination with Japan’s history of natural disasters in another vibrant and entertaining animated movie. Where Studio Ghibli built their legacy primarily on films aimed at children, Shinkai is really carving out a space as the go-to guy for anime aimed at young adults (of which alas, I am not anymore!).

Suzume (Nanoka Hara) is a 17 year old high school student from a small town on the island of Kyushu, where she lives with her aunt after losing her mother many years earlier. On her way to school one day, she bumps into Sota (Hokuto Matsumura), a young man in search of abandoned areas with doors who she directs to an old onsen resort. Following him there, she discovers an open door that appears to be a portal to another world, which Sota is trying to close – after helping him to do so, he explains that he comes from a family who are responsible for preventing earthquakes by shutting and locking doors all across Japan. As this is a Japanese anime there has to be that strange blend between cuteness and weirdness, which primarily comes through a cat statue coming to life and turning Sota into a chair – setting Suzume and Sota off on a chase to track the cat down, turn Sota back into a human and prevent more earthquakes. I don’t know how but it just works for this genre.

I would say ‘Suzume’ is a shade long and doesn’t quite carry the emotional heft of ‘Your Name’, but I was really invested in the story, the myths and the characters, and I liked how Shinkai uses a very Japanese fear of earthquakes, tsunamis and the like to build new myths and legends through his filmmaking. It’s great to see more Japanese anime movies get a proper distribution in the UK (Cineworld in my case), which should help them to build more of an audience and in the case of Makoto Shinkai, his movies are well worth seeking out. As always with foreign language animation, I highly recommend subtitled versions if you are comfortable reading along as you watch, as opposed to dubbed, and ‘Suzume’ is a good place to start!

Rating: 4/5

Directed By: Makoto Shinkai

Starring: Nanoka Hara, Hokuto Matsumura, Eri Fukatsu, Shota Sometani, Sairi Ito, Kotone Hanase, Kana Hanazawa, Matsumoto Hakuō II, Ryūnosuke Kamiki, Ann Yamane, Aimi

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