“I am your future.”
Who doesn’t love an evil kitten villain and a three-legged chair love interest? Director Makoto Shinkai has wowed the world again with his new work. Suzume no Tojimari, or just ‘Suzume’ for short, is inspired by the earthquakes and tsunamis in Japan in 2011. The movie follows main character Suzume as she finds out the supernatural cause of the earthquakes and is dragged into helping stop the world as we know it from falling apart. It is the fourth highest-grossing anime film of all time and was produced by the company CoMix Wave films.
Makoto Shinkai gained popularity as a director in the anime community after his release of Your Name and Weathering With You. Your Name has a score of 98% on Rotten Tomatoes, and Suzume is nearing it, with a score of 96%. With such a short international release time, the score that the movie has received is well-deserved, for dozens of reasons.
Firstly, the art in the film is phenomenal. Within five minutes of the movie, you know what to expect in terms of animation and art style. The movie does an excellent job of using colour theory to provoke the right emotions for each scene. When you see the sky, for instance, in the ‘Ever-after’ realm, you can feel the sorrow, while the worm antagonist provokes the feeling of rage. The animation is fluid, especially with Daijin, as he is an exceedingly small body that requires attention to detail.
Something else that puts it above other films of its genre, is the soundtrack, composed by Radwimps and Kazuma Jinnouchi. The main theme has been used thousands of times on TikTok, but the entire soundtrack is something to be awe-inspiring. The music of the film adds to the whimsical, mystical feeling that comes with the sparkling colours of the brighter scenes, and the sense of dread is intensified by the music during the scenes with the Worm. (The road trip playlist created by the character Serizawa can be found on Spotify here, as they used songs by artists across Japan, such as Yuki Saitou. The theme song can be found here).
The movie’s plot is easy to follow. It’s fantastical and supernatural but it’s explained excellently, and you don’t leave feeling confused, or like you’re missing something. However, something that would benefit Western watchers to do alongside watching the film is to research Japanese mythology, as it was the source of inspirations for the creators. Daijin and Sadaijin, for example, have real world connections in Japanese mythology.
Overall, Suzume is a breath-taking film that anyone can enjoy, whether or not you’re in the anime community, or interested in Japanese mythology. The film was released in Japanese theatres on November 11 2022; however, it came to the UK on April 14 of this year and you can still catch it in theatres across the country.
Image credit: Official artwork for the movie, designed by Masayoshi Tanaka