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Suzume


Suzume


Suzume (Japanese: すずめの戸締まり, Hepburn: Suzume no Tojimari, lit.'Suzume's Locking Up') is a 2022 Japanese animated coming-of-age fantasy adventure film written and directed by Makoto Shinkai. The film follows 17-year-old high school girl Suzume Iwato and young stranger Souta Munakata, who team up to prevent a series of disasters across Japan by sealing doors from the colossal, supernatural worm that causes earthquakes after being released.

Produced by CoMix Wave Films, it features the voices of Nanoka Hara and Hokuto Matsumura, with character designs by Masayoshi Tanaka, animation direction by Kenichi Tsuchiya, art direction by Takumi Tanji, and its musical score was composed by Radwimps and Kazuma Jinnouchi, making it Shinkai's third collaboration with Radwimps and Tanaka, after Your Name (2016) and Weathering with You (2019). The film began production in early 2020, eventually being announced as completed by October 2022. Its themes were inspired by the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami. A novel adaptation, also written by Shinkai, and a manga series illustrated by Denki Amashima both debuted prior to the film's release.

Suzume first premiered in IMAX in Japan on November 7, 2022, followed by a theatrical release by Toho on November 11. It received largely positive reviews from critics, with praise directed towards the characters, animation, visuals, music, and emotional story. The film grossed over US$316 million worldwide, making it the fourth highest-grossing Japanese film of all time as well as the fourth highest grossing film of 2022 in Japan. Among its numerous accolades, the film was nominated for Best Animated Feature at the 81st Golden Globe Awards, losing to The Boy and the Heron (2023).

Plot

Suzume Iwato is a 17-year-old high school girl, who lives with her aunt in a quiet town in the Kyushu region of Japan in 2023. While heading to school, she encounters a young man searching for an abandoned area with a door, so she informs him of an abandoned onsen (spa) resort nearby, and curiously follows him. There, she discovers a door standing alone on its frame. She opens it to witness a starlit field inside, which she can't enter. She trips over a cat statue on the floor, which turns into a real cat and flees. Frightened, Suzume rushes back to school.

During lunch, Suzume notices a huge column of smoke, emerging from the location where the abandoned resort is located, which no one else can see. She rushes back there and finds the man from earlier, who is struggling to close the door. Suzume helps him, and they manage to close the door. Due to the column of smoke falling, an earthquake hits a nearby area.

Suzume takes the man to her home, where he introduces himself as Souta Munakata, explaining he is a "Closer" and must locate and lock specific doors in abandoned places throughout Japan, to prevent a powerful supernatural "worm" from being released and causing earthquakes. As they talk, the cat from the resort appears and turns Souta into the chair he was sitting on. Souta, now a small, three-legged chair, chases the cat onto a ferry headed for Ehime, with Suzume following along. The cat leaps onto another ship as Souta tells Suzume that the cat is a "keystone", and that the worm was released after the keystone's removal from near the door.

After reaching Ehime, Suzume and Souta find social media posts from locals, who have photographed and named the cat "Daijin". With the help of a friendly local girl, Chika Amabe, they locate the worm again and close the door in the entry to an abandoned school. They stay at Chika's home for the night. The next day, after parting with Chika, they hitch a ride to Kobe with a kind woman named Rumi Ninomiya, who asks Suzume to babysit her twin children. In the evening, Suzume spots Daijin who leads her and Souta to an abandoned amusement park, where the worm is trying to emerge again from a ferris wheel. They manage to lock the door, and the worm disappears. Souta explains that the portal within the door leads to the Ever-After, a place where souls go after death.

After tracking Daijin to Tokyo, Souta asks Suzume to take them to his apartment. There he explains the legend of the worm Namazu, and that he is the last descendant of a family that, for many generations, had been responsible for locking all the doors that lead to the Ever-After. He says that there are two keystones that seal the worm: the western keystone has become Daijin, while the location of the eastern keystone is unknown. He warns that if the worm tries to emerge in Tokyo, it could cause an earthquake of the same magnitude as the 1923 Great Kantō earthquake. Suzume notices the worm emerging again, and the two follow it. The worm takes a huge form in the sky and the two fly over it. Daijin reappears and reveals he has passed on his function as a keystone to Souta. Souta suddenly turns into a keystone and Suzume reluctantly uses him to lock-up the giant worm.

Suzume wakes up at a shrine housing the Tokyo gate, where she sees Souta in the Ever-After, but is unable to enter the door. Daijin appears and Suzume gets angry at him and tells him not to come back. She visits Souta's grandfather, Hitsujirō Munakata, at the hospital, hoping to figure out how to rescue Souta. He explains that Suzume's ability to see the worm and the Ever-After through the doors, means that in some point in her life she entered the realm through one of the doors. Moreover, the doorway that she first used is the only place where she can re-enter the Ever-After in order to save Souta.

She decides to locate this specific door in her hometown in the Tōhoku region, which was destroyed in the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami, where Suzume lost both her mother and home. On her way, Suzume runs into Souta's friend, Tomoya Serizawa, who wants to help her to find Souta, along with Suzume's aunt, Tamaki, who has been looking for Suzume to take her back to Kyushu. Suzume refuses to go back and jumps into Serizawa's car. Tamaki also jumps in and they travel to Tōhoku. At a rest stop along the way, Suzume and Tamaki get into an argument, discovering that Tamaki is possessed by Sadaijin, the eastern keystone, who follows them for the rest of the trip. Tamaki takes Suzume to the ruins of Suzume's old house, where Suzume finds the old door and enters with Daijin and Sadaijin. Once in the Ever-After, Sadaijin changes its form and distracts the worm, while Suzume tries to wake up Souta, who returns to his human form. Realizing the consequences of his freedom, Daijin sacrifices himself to become a keystone, and along with Sadaijin who likewise turns back into a keystone, they are used by Souta and Suzume to lock the worm permanently in the Ever-After.

While still in the Ever-After, they see a young girl from afar. Suzume realizes the young girl is herself, from 12 years ago. Suzume decides to give her young self the childhood chair that was given to her, by her mother as a birthday present. She assures her young self the chair will provide her with the strength to overcome the tragedy and continue to grow. The young Suzume becomes energized and decides to leave the Ever-After and return (in the past), leading to her being found by Tamaki twelve years prior. Suzume and Souta leave the Ever-After themselves (to the present), with Souta returning to Tokyo, while Suzume and Tamaki return to Kyushu, revisiting the friends Suzume made along the way.

Sometime later, back in her hometown in Kyushu, Suzume makes her way to school. To her surprise, she runs into Souta again, at the same location where they first met.

Voice cast

Production

Development

Makoto Shinkai conceived the idea for Suzume while he was traveling around Japan to give talks about his past works. He said, "In Japan, it is customary to hold a jichin-sai or groundbreaking ceremony, before construction begins on a new building or home, but we do nothing when we close them down." Shinkai noticed that there were more empty or abandoned areas in Japan due to the country's declining birth rate and aging population, so he thought of writing a story about "mourning deserted places." As a result, the film inevitably turned into a road movie about visiting places.

The 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami served as an influence for the themes in the film. While the Tiamat comet in Your Name (2016) and the concept of Weathering with You (2019) were ideas influenced by the natural disaster, Shinkai felt that he should "express the impact [he] felt through the earthquake and tsunami, instead of continuing to depict it as a metaphor." He feared that people's memories of the disaster start to become "hazy" over time, and by depicting the earthquake and tsunami in his film or novel, he could also share his memories with teens who were unaware of the disaster. Shinkai also cited Kiki's Delivery Service, Guardian: The Lonely and Great God, and Haruki Murakami's novel Kafka on the Shore and short story "Kaeru-kun, Tokyo o Sukuu" (かえるくん、東京を救う, "Super-Frog Saves Tokyo") as influences for the film.

Shinkai and his staff planned the project from January to March 2020. They started developing the film's script in April, which is when the Japanese government declared a state of emergency due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In an interview with TV Asahi, Shinkai mentioned that the pandemic had a less tangible effect on the film's production. However, he said that "the mood of the times is indelibly etched into the script", adding that the film will have a post-apocalyptic theme. Souta turning into a chair was in reference to Shinkai feeling trapped during the COVID-19 curbs. After finishing the script in August, the storyboards were drafted from September 2020 to December 2021, while the production of the animation started in April 2021. The film was officially unveiled during a press conference on December 15, 2021. The film's staff includes Masayoshi Tanaka as the character designer, Kenichi Tsuchiya as the animation director, and Takumi Tanji as the art director. CoMix Wave Films and Story Inc. were revealed as the film's producers. In October 2022, Shinkai announced that production on the film was completed.

Characters

Shinkai immediately decided for the film to have a female main character, since Weathering with You had a male main character, and also felt that a "buddy" character was necessary. Initially, he wanted Suzume's companion to be another girl, with a "sisterhood type of romantic story," as he believed that he had exhausted the potential of the "boy meets girl" formula in previous films. However, Shinkai's producer discouraged the idea, saying that the audience for his films was still enjoying the typical romance aspects of his films. Thus, making the partner a chair was decided upon both to avoid the film becoming "too much of a romance," and also to lighten the mood of the film, which would "inevitably become quieter" if the story focused on mourning a place. Shinkai also considered other options for potential partners, such as a partner that turns into a monster throughout the story, and other "inorganic partners" like a milk carton. The idea for a chair partner came when Shinkai saw a wooden chair sitting at a deserted bus stop, and found its "foreign feeling" to be better than any of his previous ideas. Shinkai also became less interested in writing a love story and wanted to depict different relationships, like with Suzume and her aunt.

Casting

Nanoka Hara was revealed as the voice of Suzume Iwato on July 5, 2022. Shinkai selected her from an audition involving more than 1,700 people. Hara has been a fan of Shinkai's works, remarking that she could not imagine being the one to share the "unforgettable, heart-shaking sensation" she felt when first seeing one of his films in theaters. On September 6, 2022, Hokuto Matsumura's role as Souta Munakata was revealed. He described the character as one that "[he] had never seen in any of the director's works". Therefore, Matsumura gave a voice for Souta that he "had never heard before," which involved using a slightly lower tone. Shinkai found his voice to be "impressive" and said that it "embodies the character". Suzume and Souta are Hara and Matsumura's first anime voice-acting roles. On September 29, Eri Fukatsu, Shota Sometani, Sairi Ito, Kotone Hanase, Kana Hanazawa, and Matsumoto Hakuō II were revealed to be joining the voice cast. On October 25, Ryūnosuke Kamiki, who voiced Taki Tachibana in Your Name, was added to the cast for the role of Tomoya Serizawa.

Music

On September 20, 2022, it was announced that the band Radwimps, which had previously collaborated with Shinkai on Your Name and Weathering with You, would be composing the score for the film, along with composer Kazuma Jinnouchi. It was also revealed that TikTok singer Toaka provided the vocals for the first theme song, "Suzume" (すずめ), which debuted on music streaming services on September 30, 2022. The second theme song, "Kanata Haluka" (カナタハルカ), debuted online on October 28, 2022. The soundtrack was released on November 11, 2022, the day of the film's release. Some of its recordings were done at Abbey Road Studios in London.

Marketing

A teaser poster was released alongside the film's announcement. On April 9, 2022, an updated version featuring the film's protagonist was released online and as a full-page advertisement in the morning edition of The Asahi Shimbun newspaper. It was also announced that the film would be released on November 11. Toho debuted a teaser trailer on April 10, 2022, and a full trailer was released on July 15. The main poster, along with the second trailer, was released on September 29, 2022. Nippon TV previewed the first 12 minutes of the film on October 28, 2022, during a broadcast of Your Name on NNN's Kin'yō Road Show programming block. Prior to the film's release, the production committee warned filmgoers of scenes in the film that depict an earthquake and sounds of earthquake alarms, and reassured that the sounds were fictional.

Several bonus items were given to filmgoers in Japan. A booklet, titled Shinkai Makoto Hon (新海誠本), was the first to be distributed, and had a print run of 3 million copies. The booklet contained the original proposals for Suzume, Your Name, and Weathering with You, and interviews with Shinkai, Hara, and Matsumura. A second booklet, Shinkai Makoto Hon 2 (新海誠本2), was distributed beginning on December 3, with a print run of 1.5 million copies. A spin-off novel written by Shinkai, subtitled "Tamaki's Story" (環さんのものがたり, Tamaki-san no Monogatari), was given starting on December 24. A second novel, "Serizawa's Story" (芹澤のものがたり, Serizawa no Monogatari), was distributed starting on January 28, 2023. McDonald's Japan released a Happy Meal set that includes a spin-off picture book, titled Suzume to Isu (すずめといす, "Suzume and the Chair"), which tells an original story written by Shinkai and illustrated by Senbon Umishima. Other partners for the film include Misawa Homes, Lawson, and KDDI's au. Additionally, a promotional campaign was held involving one local company from each of the 47 prefectures of Japan. The film also had a 20-page special feature in the #50/2022 issue of Kodansha's Weekly Shōnen Magazine.

Collection James Bond 007

Release

Theatrical

Suzume had an advance IMAX screening on November 7, 2022, for watchers who were decided through a lottery. It was released nationwide by Toho in 420 theaters in Japan on November 11 through regular and IMAX screenings. Midnight screenings were held in 11 theaters across six cities in Japan. The film premiered internationally in competition at the 73rd Berlin International Film Festival on February 23, 2023, marking the first time an anime film competed in the festival since Spirited Away in 2002.

In Asia, the film began screening on March 2, 2023, in Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Macau; March 8 in Indonesia, the Philippines, and South Korea; March 9 in Malaysia and Singapore; March 10 in Vietnam; March 24 in China; April 13 in Thailand; and April 21 in India. Singapore-based distributor Encore Films handled distribution in Southeast Asia with the Philippines and Thailand releases were co-distributed through Warner Bros. Pictures.

In May 2022, it was announced that Crunchyroll, Sony Pictures, and Wild Bunch International have acquired the film's global distribution rights. Crunchyroll will handle distribution in North America and will partner with Sony Pictures Releasing in territories outside of Asia under the Sony Pictures Releasing International banner, while Sony and Wild Bunch will co-distribute in Europe. A special screening for the film was held on March 1, 2023, at the BFI Southbank in London, with Shinkai himself attending the event. The film had its North American premiere at the New York International Children's Film Festival on March 5. Another special screening was held on April 21, 2023, at PVR Cinemas Citi Mall in Mumbai, which Shinkai attended to celebrate the premiere of the film in Japanese and in the Hindi dub in India. He interacted with media outlets along with his overseas fans and attended a Q&A session. He also participated in a signing event along with Denki Amashima, the illustrator for the manga adaptation. This was his second visit to India; he previously visited the country during the premiere of his film Weathering With You in 2019.

Suzume began its general screening on April 12, 2023, in France, Malta, and Switzerland; April 13 in Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Azerbaijan, Bolivia, Brazil, Central America, Chile, Denmark, Ecuador, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Israel, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Peru, Slovakia, Tajikistan, Turkey, Uruguay, Uzbekistan and Venezuela; April 14 in Austria, Belgium, Canada, Estonia, Gibraltar, Ireland, Kenya, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Norway, Southern Africa, Spain, Sweden, the United Kingdom, and the United States; April 20 in Colombia and Portugal; April 21 in Bulgaria, Finland, Poland, and Romania; April 27 in Italy, Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates; April 30 in Iceland; May 25 in Croatia, Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, North Macedonia and Albania; and May 26 in Czech Republic and Madagascar.

In Australia, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the United States, an English-language dub was screened along with the original Japanese version.

Home media

Suzume was released on Blu-ray and DVD in Japan on September 20, 2023, and includes English and Chinese-language subtitles. The collector's edition features a 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray and bonus content such as audio commentary, a making-of documentary, animatics of the film, and interviews with cast and staff members. The film was broadcast on Nippon TV's Kin'yō Road Show block on April 5, 2024, serving as its premiere on Japanese terrestrial television.

Internationally, Crunchyroll began streaming the film on November 16, 2023. It was followed by a Blu-ray and DVD release in North America on March 12, 2024, and in the United Kingdom on April 1. The film was also released on Netflix on April 5.

Reception

Box office

Suzume grossed over US$316.8 million worldwide, including ¥14.94 billion in Japan. It is the fourth-highest-grossing anime film of all time. The film debuted at number one at the Japanese box office, and grossed ¥1.88 billion (US$13.49 million) from the advance IMAX screening and during its first three days. It surpassed Weathering with You to become the biggest three-day opening for a Shinkai film. In Japan, it is the fourth-highest-grossing film of 2022, the ninth-highest-grossing anime film of all time, and the 15th-overall highest-grossing film of all time.

In China, the film topped the box office and grossed US$49.6 million in its opening weekend. It earned US$82.27 million within its first ten days. It surpassed the box office of Your Name and became the highest-grossing Japanese film in the country. Suzume ultimately grossed US$114 million, becoming the second-highest-grossing foreign film of 2023.

In South Korea, the film debuted with US$5.71 million in its opening weekend, topping the box office. It was the highest-grossing film for 35 consecutive days after its release, setting a record second only to Avatar (2009). By April 14, 2023, the film grossed US$35.78 million and has attracted a total of over 4.48 million viewers, surpassing The First Slam Dunk (2022) to become the highest-grossing and most-watched Japanese film in the country. Suzume grossed US$43.6 million, ranking second among the highest-grossing foreign films of 2023. It also became the first Japanese film to have sold over 5 million tickets.

In the United States, the film was released alongside Renfield, The Pope's Exorcist, Mafia Mamma and Sweetwater, and was projected to gross $4.7 million from 2,170 theaters in its opening weekend. It made $2.15 million on its first day, as well as $680,000 from Thursday preview screenings. The film went to debut on $5 million in its opening weekend, finishing seventh at the box office behind Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves. By May 2023, Suzume earned $10 million at the box office.

Critical response

On the review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, 96% of 132 critics' reviews are positive, with an average rating of 7.9/10. The website's consensus reads: "Suzume sees director Makoto Shinkai falling just a bit short of the bar set by previous outings – but when the results are this visually thrilling and emotionally impactful, it's hard to find much fault." On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average of 77 out of 100 based on 27 critic reviews, indicating "generally favorable reviews". Audiences polled by PostTrak gave the film an 89% positive score, with 72% saying they would recommend it.

On Japanese review site Filmarks, Suzume received an average rating of 4.00/5 based on 6,585 user reviews, placing second in its first-day satisfaction ranking. Matt Schley of The Japan Times gave the film 4 out of 5 stars, and called it "the director’s most satisfying work yet." He praised the art and animation, and while he described some of the dialogue as "cliche or cringe-worthy", he also felt that the film was "a bit more mature" than Shinkai's past films. Schley also found the film's climax "somewhat disturbing", and said that it might divide viewers on whether Shinkai "earns" it. Richard Eisenbeis, writing for Anime News Network, graded the film 'A', praising the story, characters, animation, and music, but found the plot structure to be similar to Your Name and Weathering with You, making the film "more predictable." Eisenbeis also criticized the appearance of a creature that Suzume encountered in Tokyo, describing it as "a cheap CG effect placed over the otherwise quality animation and blended poorly." Gautam Sunder of The Hindu praised Shinkai's "mastery over light and shadows", character writing, humour, and references to older animated films, while conceding that it could not match "the raw beauty of The Garden of Words or the dramatic beats of Your Name".

Accolades

Adaptations

Novel

A novel adaptation written by Shinkai was released on August 24, 2022, under the Kadokawa Bunko imprint. A portion of the novel was included in a booklet distributed during the 2022 Kadobun Summer Fair, which was held in Japanese bookstores on June 10. A children's paperback edition, which adds furigana and illustrations drawn by Chiko, was released on October 13 under the Kadokawa Tsubasa Bunko imprint. The novel is the best-selling physical light novel volume of 2022 in Japan, and has sold over 369,000 copies by May 2023. In January 2023, Yen Press announced that it licensed the series for English publication in digital and print formats.

Manga

A manga adaptation illustrated by Denki Amashima was serializerd in Kodansha's Monthly Afternoon magazine from October 25, 2022, to December 25, 2023. Three tankōbon volumes were released on March 23, 2023, September 22, 2023, and February 22, 2024. In March 2024, Kodansha USA licensed the series for English publication, with the first volume set to be released in September.

Notes

References

External links

  • Official website (in Japanese)
  • Suzume at IMDb
  • Suzume (film) at Anime News Network's encyclopedia

Text submitted to CC-BY-SA license. Source: Suzume by Wikipedia (Historical)


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