Suzume is a spectacular and lyrical adventure taking the audience on a journey around Japan. This film is a breathtaking visual feast that you need to experience on the biggest screen possible. Undoubtedly, this is a perfect strike for Shinkai.”

Makoto Shinkai’s latest film Suzume was released in November in Japan. And it was welcome with a tremendous success at the box office. Now, it is finally about to reach our shores. The film releases on April 14 in the United Kingdom, the United States and Canada. For more release dates, check the list here. I had the opportunity to see the film this week and I can tell you it was impressive.


This film follows Suzume Iwato (voiced by Nanoka Hara), a 17-year-old high-school girl who lives with her aunt in Kyushu. Her life changes when she encounters the mysterious Sōta (voiced by Hokuto Matsumura) who asks her where to find an abandoned area with doors. Unlike others, she is able to see the supernatural forces coming out of these magical doors – a worm spreading chaos across Japan. This sets her on a journey across the country to close these doors as her homeland is on the brink of disaster. She is accompanied by a talking chair and encounters on her way Daijin, a white cat who talks and has powers.

At the same time, it is a road movie as Suzume travels across Japan but it is also a coming-of-age. It is not simply a mission to save her homeland but it is also a powerful journey for Suzume to come to terms with her own struggles. This epic adventure is full of surprises, magic and danger. It will make you cry, laugh and cheer. I think, there is the right amount of everything, it is well balanced and well paced.

As usual, the human characters are endearing and genuine. They are ordinary people thrown into an extraordinary situation. You root for them all the way through. But, I have to say that the real standout this time is Daijin. A cat who talks, what’s not to love about him?


If you have followed Makoto Shinkai’s career, you can tell there has been a clear evolution in his work throughout the years. His earlier films were quite melancholic and sometimes dealt with impossible or unrequited love. However, a tonal shift happened with Your Name and continued with Weathering With You. These two films are full of love and full of life. Undoubtedly, they send a hopeful message to the audience. When the credits roll, your heart is filled with joy.

And Suzume is the culmination of Shinkai’s recent works. It has come full circle. The film follows Shinkai’s trend of delivering hopefulness with his stories. In fact, this film is pretty much an ode to life. It tackles important themes. Indeed, it deals with love, life, family, loss, friends and not giving up. It will move you in many ways. As usual, Shinkai does this in a lyrical way. There is something so poetic in how he tells his stories.

He is able to ground his stories in realism while also adding a fantasy aspect to them. I think this is what makes his films, Suzume included, so captivating. By mixing both realism and fantasy, this director creates his own world and transports us to it. For this film, the fantasy element is a mix between Children Who Chase Lost Voices and Weathering With You with this world within our world and the threat of the worm.


Furthermore, Makoto Shinkai’s films have always been extremely beautiful. But, this one is a step above the others. It is a breathtaking visual feast. You really need to experience it on the biggest screen possible. The scenery almost feels like a painting, there is something so mesmerizing about it. The choice of colors, the skylines, the details, it is all truly impressive. This film takes us on a tour of Japan. If you have ever been to Japan, you will definitely recognize some of these places. It is actually quite fun to try and spot the places that you know in the film.

Obviously, you also need a McDonald’s scene, it is like a tradition now. Even with the food, there is a real attention to details. It makes want you to eat what the characters are eating, especially that yaki udon. Shinkai has a real desire to anchor his visuals in realism. He transports us to all these fabulous real places while also taking us into his imagination. It is a perfect mix of both, just like his story that is grounded in realism while also using fantasy.


After Your Name and Weathering With You, Makoto Shinkai reunites with RADWIMPS for a third time. They make the perfect team. RADWIMPS’ musical style fits right in Shinkai’s world. And this time, the famous band is joined by the composer Kazuma Jinnouchi. The two deliver a triumphant soundtrack. Indeed, it is melodious and dreamy capturing our attention and further transporting us into Shinkai’s world. But, the score can also be EPIC at times, that is the adventure side of the story that speaks here. The use of percussion instruments in these moments delivers the right amount of adrenaline.

Moreover, it wouldn’t be a RADWIMPS soundtrack without some songs. Once again, the songs are wonderful. Firstly, ‘Suzume’ feat. Toaka is a bit different from what we are used to. You recognize RADWIMPS’ lyrical style with an adventure twist to it. Toaka’s voice is in harmony with the song. Secondly, ‘KANATA HALUKA’ is a classic RADWIMPS song. It is so pleasing to the ears. Plus, it encapsulates in a beautiful way the message of this film. After watching it, I have listened to both songs several times and the same goes for the rest of the soundtrack. You are never disappointed with RADWIMPS.


Finally, Suzume gathers an impressive voice cast. Nanoka Hara had been in several series and films before, but this is her first voice work. And she does a fantastic work, as if she had done voice acting for a long time. It is always nice to discover new talents. Hokuto Matsumura from the band SixTones also delivers a beautiful performance.


It is hard to recapture the magic again and again. Yet, Makoto Shinkai has done it again – three masterpieces in a row. Suzume is a spectacular and lyrical adventure taking the audience on a journey around Japan. This film is a breathtaking visual feast that you need to experience on the biggest screen possible. RADWIMPS delivers another triumphant soundtrack. Undoubtedly, this is a perfect strike for Shinkai. It is one of the best films of the year, if not the very best.

Suzume arrives in cinemas on April 14 in the United Kingdom, the United States and Canada.

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