Suzume Review: Strap yourself in for a wild and emotional ride - SciFiNow

Suzume Review: Strap yourself in for a wild and emotional ride

Strap yourselves in (and bring the tissues) for an adventurous, funny and emotional road trip across Japan in Makoto Shinkai’s Suzume.


What more could you want from an anime than watching a 17-year-old girl getting whisked away by a handsome stranger with supernatural powers who then turns into a cute talking chair for the majority of the running time? That all happens in the first 20 minutes of Suzume, and from then on in the adventure, silly humour and bold comment on environmental disaster and grief plays out as an exhilarating road trip across Japan.

The film is inspired by Haruki Murakami’s short story, ‘Super Frog Saves Tokyo’ which he wrote after the 1995 Japan earthquake. Following Weathering With You and Your Name, writer-director Makoto Shinkai locates humour and depth in the soul-seeking journey of a girl whose life has been overshadowed by bereavement.

Suzume lives with her 40-year-old auntie in Kyushu, who took her in as a small child after her mother passed away. When Suzume discovers a new realm hidden behind secret doors where time stands still and she can prevent catastrophe, she slowly unlocks repressed memories and feelings of loss.

This is a delightfully quirky and poignant coming-of-ager that powerfully pays tribute to those affected by the earthquake and tsunami disaster that ravaged Japan on 11 March 2011. The film not only tenderly traces Suzume’s sorrow, but follows the aftershocks that ripple through all the characters whose lives have been touched by tragedy.

The animation is beautifully rendered striking a tranquil and entrancing tone during the gentler scenes. The ocean glistens brightly and the skies glow with pink, purple and blue, setting a magical ambience that chimes with the film’s themes of hopefulness and possibility. In the darker sequences, where a giant wormlike presence that looks like a malicious strawberry twizzler attacks the peaceful settings, the film superbly builds suspense, by turning innocent childlike locations like a funfair into menacingly scary places.

With Suzume, Shinkai has crafted another fantastic adventure through big emotions and major issues that whizzes along at a fast pace while also tugging at the heartstrings. Bring tissues!

Suzume will be in UK and Irish cinemas on 14 April