Suzume no Tajimari review: A literal emotional road trip
Suzume no Tajimari comes from the same studio as Your Name, and provides just as much whimsy, though maybe not as much satisfaction.
By Crunchyroll and Your Name filmmaker Makoto Shinkai, comes the newest anime movie to capture your hearts, Suzume no Tajimari. This has been one of the most anticipated animated films of the past few years, and it’s finally here.
The official Crunchyroll plot reads: “Suzume no Tojimari is a coming-of-age story for the 17-year-old protagonist, Suzume, set in various disaster-stricken locations across Japan, where she must close the doors causing devastation.”
But does the film live up to Your Name, and will you have just as much of an emotional time watching it? Well, let’s get into it, and don’t worry, we won’t be covering any major spoilers here.
Suzume pushes you through the magic door immediately
The movie opens and immediately grabs your attention with a beautiful but confusing scene: a child wandering around the ruins of what seems to be a dreamscape world. We’re meant to feel as emotionally confused as the crying child does, and we certainly do, only to get thrust back into the real world.
And this film really does like to thrust you forward. The plot begins almost immediately, with Suzume meeting Souta almost immediately, and being besotted with him just as fast. The first big battle happens before even the title card rolls, and the main plot kicks in to gear not long after.
While this prevents any boredom, it does feel slightly rushed, as Suzume has little time to establish herself as our lead before she’s called into action. Meaning we don’t get to know much about her at first, other than the fact that she’s kind.
But one part that the film does let you sit and experience is the animation. It’s just as you would have expected it to be: breathtaking. The story goes on a whole road trip of Japan, from a cute coastal town all the way to central Tokyo, and the sites and the sounds all do an incredible job of sucking you in – and perhaps encouraging you to buy a plane ticket.
The only animation choice there could be a gripe with are the borders on the vision scenes, which look rather 90s kids show-esque. But what’s that in the face of some of the most jaw-dropping visuals you’ll see all year in film?
Suzume is packed with emotion – sometimes too much
Suzume is a modern heroes’ journey, with the perfect mix of the contemporary – our heroes use social media photos to track down a cat – and the whimsical, so that the magic never feels out of place in a technological world (except for perhaps an odd McDonalds product placement scene).
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But speaking of magic, the god-like cats, specifically Daijin, are certain to become major anime icons over the next year. They’re cute, they’re complex, and they provide a lot of action and catharsis to the story. However, their motivations are a little confusing; some may feel the film is cheaply trying to bait and switch us, and the lack of a real concrete villain may be disappointing to others.
However, while the cats’ motivations can be a little mixed, there are plenty of well-done emotional interactions with other characters and objects, such as Suzume’s childhood chair, her grief with her mother, and her relationship with her aunt. There are plenty of full-circle moments that bring narrative importance to said emotions, making everything feel very purposeful.
As you’ve probably guessed by now, the film is very emotional, arguably too much. You may even get a little tired of hearing the characters scream each other’s names in tears so often, and the tinkly music that’s meant to pull at your heartstrings is beautiful, but sometimes overstays its welcome to the point of being distracting.
However, even the music can’t distract you from the climatic scenes in the film, which manage to be both action-packed and cathartic. It’s certainly a film for the big screen, as it’s both big in scope and feeling.
Suzume review score: 4/5
While comparisons to Your Name feel uncalled for, it’ll likely be impossible to avoid. And, sadly, Suzume doesn’t quite live up to Makoto Shinkai’s previous work.
However, the movie is still a fantastic piece of art, and we can definitely see improvements on the animation scale, along with the sheer scope of the story it’s willing to tell. This film definitely stands on its own two feet, and it’s certainly not a story you should close the door on.
Suzume no Tajimari will premiere in cinemas on April 14.