Movie Review: Suzume (2023)

Suzume no Tojimari (Suzume’s Locking Up) or just Suzume, an anime film relased in the US around mid April 2023, has become one of the highest grossing anime films in cinema history with over $260 million worldwide.

Directed by Makoto Shinkai, who also made Your Name and Weathering with You, the film is set in the aftermath of the 2011 earthquake and tsunami that devastated Japan’s Tohoku region, and explores themes of loss, grief and hope. It is 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. The film features beautiful animation, music and voice acting. The movie was released in Japan on November 11, 2022 and had its world premiere at the Berlin International Film Festival on February 23, 2023.

The Basic Plot

Suzume is a 17-year-old girl who lives with her aunt in Kyushu after losing her mother in a disaster. One day, she meets a young man named Souta who is looking for doors that lead to another world. She follows him to an abandoned resort and opens one of the doors, unleashing a red force that causes earthquakes. Souta turns into a talking chair by a cat statue named Daijin and the two embark on a journey across Japan to close the doors and prevent more disasters (this is also the source of the movie’s name). Along the way, they are joined by the cat statue that comes to life and learn more about each other’s pasts and feelings.

The Overall Tone

Based on web search results, the overall tone of Suzume is a mix of fantasy, adventure, drama and comedy. The film deals with serious themes of natural disasters, loss and grief, but also has moments of humor, wonder and hope. The film has a painterly and beautiful animation style that contrasts the devastation caused by the earthquakes with the enchantment of the other world. The film also has a whimsical and fairy-tale-like quality, with talking animals and magical objects. It is shown both a personal journey for Suzume and a reflection of Japan’s history and culture.

Behind the Scenes

The film features the voices of Nanoka Hara and Hokuto Matsumura, who play Suzume and Souta respectively. The character designs are by Masayoshi Tanaka, who also worked with Shinkai on Your Name and Weathering with You. The animation direction is by Kenichi Tsuchiya, who has been involved in many anime projects such as Akira, Spirited Away and Demon Slayer. The art direction is by Takumi Tanji, who also collaborated with Shinkai on Your Name and Weathering with You. The music is by Radwimps and Kazuma Jinnouchi; Radwimps composed the songs and Jinnouchi composed the score. Radwimps also provided the music for Shinkai’s previous two films. The film was inspired by the Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami that occurred in 2011, and Shinkai visited the affected areas to do research and interviews.

Offical Trailer with English Subtitles

The Animation Style

The film uses a combination of 2D and 3D animation styles, depending on the scene and the characters. For example, 3D animation is used to show the sequence where Souta is turned into a chair, to convey a sense of rigidity and coldness. The film uses 2D animation for Suzume and most of the other characters and backgrounds, to create a painterly and realistic look. CGI elements have been used for some of the fantasy elements, such as the doors, the worms and the Ever After world. The film uses hand-drawn animation for some of the details, such as the rain, the wind and the cherry blossoms.

Intended Audience

Based on web search results, the movie’s intended audience is not clearly defined, but it seems to appeal to a wide range of viewers who enjoy anime, fantasy, adventure, drama and comedy. It deals with serious themes of natural disasters, loss and grief, but also has moments of humor, wonder and hope. The film is rated PG-13 for some scenes of violence and peril. There are clear influences of Japanese culture and history, especially the 2011 earthquake and tsunami that affected the Tohoku region. The film may resonate more with Japanese audiences or those who are familiar with the context of the disaster, but it also has a universal message of finding hope amid tragedy.

Box Office Results

The public response on the movie is mostly positive, with critics and audiences praising its animation, story, characters, music and themes. The movie has a 75% score on Metacritic and an 8.1 rating on IMDb. Based on web search results, the movie performed very well at the box office, both in Japan and internationally. The movie earned over $260 million worldwide as of April 17, 2023, making it one of the highest-grossing anime films ever. The movie also ranked seventh at the US box office in its opening weekend, earning about $5 million. The movie was also a hit in China and South Korea, where it grossed over $80 million and $29 million respectively.

The Verdict

The movie is a wonderful and emotional experience that showcases the talent and vision of Makoto Shinkai and his team. It has a unique and engaging story that blends fantasy and reality, humor and tragedy, action and romance. The movie also has stunning animation that brings the characters and the world to life, as well as a beautiful score that enhances the mood and the message. It deals with important themes of loss, grief and hope, and how we can find meaning and connection in the face of disaster. The movie may not be perfect, but it is still a remarkable and memorable film that deserves to be seen and appreciated by anime fans and general audiences alike.

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