Suzume by Makoto Shinkai – cheat sheet

The 13th film by the Japanese director offers a door to another world in the most devastating way imaginable.

What is it?

Suzume is an animated fantasy adventure film and coming-of-age story for a 17-year-old called Suzume Iwato. She meets a young man called Sōta Munakata who is searching for abandoned areas with doors, on a mission to prevent a giant supernatural worm from causing earthquakes. It’s set in various disaster-stricken locations across Japan, where Suzume must find and close the doors.

Who’s it by?

Makoto Shinkai.

Remind me …

Suzume is the Japanese director’s 13th directorial work. It follows the award-winning Weathering with You in 2019 and 2016’s (also award-winning) Your Name. An author and manga artist, he started his career as a videogame animator in 1996 and gained acclaim as a filmmaker with the video animation She and Her Cat in 1999. His debut feature film was The Place Promised in Our Early Days (2014).

Is there a trailer?

Who’s in it?

The film features the voices of Japanese actor Nanoka Hara and singer and actor of SixTONES fame, Hokoto Matsamura. The character designs were done by animator Masayoshi Tanaka, and the music by the Japanese rock band Radwimps and composer Kazuma Jinnouchi.

What do the critics say?

The film has a 93% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes, with Ross McIndoe writing for Slant Magazine:

The film is consistently delightful, offering up an unrelenting supply of shimmering, sun-dappled visuals and a sweet, strange story about a young girl making peace with her past.

Slant Magazine review.

Has it been popular overseas?

Suzume has grossed more than $220 million worldwide since its release last year, becoming the fourth-highest grossing film in Japan last year.

Hit me with some trivia

As per IMDB: Makoto Shinkai cites the short story Super-Frog Saves Tokyo and the novel Kafka on the Shore, both by Haruki Murakami, as well the anime film Kiki’s Delivery Service (1989), as major inspirations for the film.

Do say

The early bird catches the worm.

Don’t say

When the lord closes one door, he opens another.

When can I see it?

Suzume is in Australian cinemas from 13 April 2023.

Paul Dalgarno is author of the novels A Country of Eternal Light (2023) and Poly (2020); the memoir And You May Find Yourself (2015); and the creative non-fiction book Prudish Nation (2023). He was formerly Deputy Editor of The Conversation and joined ScreenHub as Managing Editor in 2022. X: @pauldalgarno. Insta: @dalgarnowrites