Film, Reviews
Apr 24, 2023

Movie Review: ‘Suzume’

After winning international acclaim and awards with Kimi No Na Wa (Your Name) director Makoto Shinkai is back with another emotional juggernaut, Suzume.

You can watch Suzume now on Crunchyroll here in the US.

Suzume is everything we’ve come to expect from the rich worlds of Japanese animation. It is a fantastical and complex story, starring endearing characters, with cinematic animation and visually stunning shots. The film explores a coming of age story mixed in with our relationship with our inner depths. Suzume dares you to look at your life and the decisions you’ve made and realize that you are enough. The innate need for connection with oneself is explored through the main character, while she departs on a coming of age journey that will change her relationship with herself and others forever.

There’s a lot of excitement surrounding anything filmmaker Makoto Shinkai presents to the world right now, as he’s had two back to back hits with Your Name and Weathering With You. Therefore, it’s fair that expectations were set at a high bar for  his latest feature Suzume. Astonishingly, Suzume over delivers. We keep thinking his films with their emotional depths, sweeping cinematic scenes, and dashes of fantasy can’t get better and yet he continues to up the ante with every feature. Could he be this generations Miyazaki? Not that we’d compare, the work is vastly different but the emotional impact and success of Shinkai’s cinematic storytelling is so compelling that you can’t help but think of Master Storyteller Hayao Miyazaki and how his early work (and consequent films) delivered those same emotional notes that made it impossible to look away from any of his films.

Suzume follows the titular character (voiced by Nanoka Hara), a typical Japanese high schooler whose life is uprooted once she crosses paths with the handsome and mysterious Souta (voiced by Hokuto Matsumura). Souta comes from a long lineage of “Closers,” people responsible for finding mystical doors to another dimension from where an evil force known as the Worm is trying to escape, to destroy Japan. Souta’s duty is to prevent the Worm from ever coming to the living world as even a fragment of the monstrous force is capable of causing earthquakes that put thousands of lives at risk. When Suzume inadvertently sets an apocalyptic event in motion, she must then join forces with Souta to contain the Worm so it doesn’t destroy Japan.

Fantasy only has meaning when it helps us to understand the world around us, and Suzume perfectly ties up both elements in an exciting story. Director Shinkai has taken a road trip of sorts to forge connections and experiences for the titualr character that examine our need for human connection. It’s fitting that the evil she must face is banished by calling forth the happy memories of the people in the areas it seeks to destroy. Once again bringing us full circle with the film’s overarching message of human connection and companionship. But our happiest journey? That lies within our relationship with ourselves.

Additionally, Suzume just became one of the highest-grossing anime films ever. Please let us know your thoughts.