Suzume – Movie Reviews by Ry!

Suzume – Doorways of Love and Grief: An Anime Tale

From the solemn to the extravagant, the everlasting appeal comes in the escape.  Each genre has a way to grip, but one medium that has a tougher task to pull at those heartstrings is anime.  No matter the story, if an anime can find that balance … it is simply an adventure worth falling into.  In this review, I look at the latest anime from Makoto Shinkai.  With his creative mind, we head into an adventure that mixes heart with imagination.  Even with suspense of disbelief, Suzume is an intuitive escape of how to find your heart in a world of lost.

This is a story of Suzume Iwato (Voiced: Nanoka Hara), a 17-year-old girl living with her aunt in Kyushu.  Having a heart for adventure, will she find her purpose after a fateful encounter or be lost forever.  On the surface, this is an anime built on the typical fantasy/adventure outline.  In the beginning, there is the general introduction to the main character: Suzume.  After a dreamlike sequence, we learn that she has been living with her aunt (for many years) because of her mother’s death.  She is a restless girl, wanting to break the monotony of her current life.  That changes on one specific day heading to school, where she has a chance encounter with a traveler.  After more circumstantial plotting, we head into a series of scenes that introduces (the audience) to the stranger’s identity, magical doors, and Cat-like keystones.  This leads to Suzume traveling with the stranger, Soto (Voiced: Minoru Okabe) on his mission: closing specific doors in Japan to the Ever-After to stop catastrophic destruction.  On the surface, this adventure like story is your typical linear path of the ‘point A to B’ method.  There is a general scope of common conflict, but it eventually builds towards deeper revelations.  What drives this journey above its typical tropes is in the experience.  Like his previous films (Your Name; Weathering for you) writer/director Makoto Shinkai creates a story that balances abstracted myths and humanistic threads.  By grounding the mythos to actualized locales, there is levity to what Suzume and Soto are trying to accomplish.  The surficial level threat is a parallel to past griefs, giving purpose to the visualized/manic experiences that happen with each new encounter.  Each place where Suzume/Soto travels to (in Japan) becomes a layered reflection of their fragile psyche, a bridge between the fantastical and personal growth.  With each door closed (to the other world), the adventure builds upon the mysteries of their own personal clout. 

As each scene (of closing the doors) provides a whimsical escape, it is that personal thread that begins to shift the encounters to something more.  This leads to the story becoming more character focus, pushing Suzume to find a heartfelt purpose within both worlds.  This shift to a characterized journey helps build a stronger grip to the fantastical, creating relative themes through circumstance, fate and hope.  As she begins to understand her own purpose (in life), this leads to a third act of endearing and humanistic overtures.  Even as the fantastical elements stir convolution, the focal thread of Suzume’s own leads to a truly gratifying climax and epilogue.  Suzume is an intuitive adventure that becomes something more of a character piece.  For all that is driven in the escape, there is a heart to what becomes of our main characters.  If you are a fan of anime, adventure, or character films, this is one for you.  I say it is worth the escape … full price at the theaters.

Full Score – 4 out of 5 (Full Price)

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