Suzume Review: Makoto Shinaki’s Latest Hit ★★★★☆

3 mins read

Beautiful animation, a heart-warming love story and a potentially world-altering threat. These are all staples of any Makoto Shinkai film and Suzume, Shinkai’s latest work, is no different.

On April 14, Suzume was released in UK cinemas, having originally premiered in Japan back in 2022, so international audiences could at last experience the beauty of Suzume.

It follows 17-year-old Suzume Iwato (Nanoka Hara) as she travels across Japan to help a mysterious man, Sota Munakata (Hokuto Matsumura) to close gates which have appeared in disaster zones across the country, in order to prevent them from unleashing more destruction.

Suzume is filled to the brim with action, adventure and magic but, underneath the grandiose plot is a much simpler story of the growing bond between the two main characters and how their journey together impacts their own personal development, forever altering the trajectory of their lives.

Suzume is a strong-willed, selfless and entertaining main lead. Her charm and emotional depth take centre stage throughout the entire film as she encounters people on her journey.

Additionally, the sweet and innocent relationship developed between Suzume and Sota is a breath of fresh air. It provides the majority of the humourous moments as well as perhaps one of the most tragic scenes I have ever witnessed on screen.

One of the central themes of Suzume is the concept of natural disasters. This is explored through Suzume and Sota travelling to several locations which have been impacted and left to ruin.

Through this Shinaki embodies the concept of places and objects possessing memories, even once long abandoned or destroyed.

Despite the negative connotations of destruction and ruin, these locations are portrayed with the same breathtaking visuals as the rest of the film, illustrating the life and soul of the land, and the memories which now inhabit it.

However, while Suzume makes an effort to balance the light-hearted and humorous moments with the more serious ones, there are several odd tonal shifts throughout the film. This occasional flip-flop between tension and comedy results in a loss of emotional weight and impact.

Nevertheless, this is a minor critique of an otherwise visually stunning and delightfully charming road trip story, with lovable characters and a compelling environmental message.

Overall, Suzume is an ambitious, joyous and moving film with something for audiences of all ages to enjoy and relate to.

Suzume is currently showing at the Vue Cinema in Stirling.

Featured Image Credit:: Sony Pictures Entertainment

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