In a world where doors that harbor a destructive worm on the other side can mysteriously appear at abandoned places, it’s up to a family known as the Closers to keep these doors closed and keep Japan safe. With a unique storyline and beautiful animation, Suzume is a film that teaches its audience to give these forgotten spaces a second glance.
The titular character, Suzume, is a high school student who was raised by her aunt in the seaside city of Kyushu. On her way to school one day, she meets Souta, who changes her life with just one simple question: “Do you know of any ruins in the area? I’m looking for a door.” Unable to resist her curiosity, she travels to a local ruin and witnesses Souta’s struggle to close the door and lock the worm within. Once they succeed, Suzume joins Souta on his nationwide quest to keep the worm from emerging through doors at other abandoned sites. Suzume becomes instrumental on this journey when a Keystone, a living artifact that keeps the worm contained, curses Souta and fuses his soul within Suzume’s childhood chair. Although Souta has turned into a chair that’s missing a leg, he still retains his ability to speak and move. While the duo travels across Japan to close and lock doors, Suzume finds herself learning more about her past, opening and unlocking memories she had written off as dreams.
Suzume is a film with beautiful intent and visuals, which is unsurprising considering it’s written and directed by Makoto Shinkai, the mind behind popular animated films, Your Name and Weathering with You. While Japan is known to hold jichin-sai, groundbreaking ceremonies, when beginning construction for new buildings, there is nothing done to celebrate old buildings when they’re shutting down or being abandoned. Combating this, Suzume is a tale that celebrates those forgotten monuments, towns, and buildings, and the memories that were created in these places. The only way to close these doors and lock them is to call upon the spirit of the location, and each time this happens, memories tied to the location flash through the Closer’s mind, creating a feeling of nostalgia and honoring the past. Seeing the stories and memories, especially when most have been abandoned due to natural disasters such as earthquakes and tsunamis, is a reminder to viewers that there is beauty even in these lost places.