The reason that the genre known as Anime has such a following is because the quality is now at a point where nearly every film released is a must-see. The latest anime film that truly deserves that tag is Suzume, which was a box office success in Japan before now becoming a worldwide hit.
Directed by Makoto Shinkai (Your Name), the film centres around a young girl named Suzume (voiced by Nanoka Hara (The Voice Of Sin), who lost her mother in a disastrous tsunami. Left to live with her Aunt Tamaki (Eri Fukatsu), Suzume has a happy life but she can’t help but wonder whether or not she is the reason why her Aunt has never been able to live life for herself.
Then Suzume’s life changes forever when one morning on her way to school she runs into a mysterious stranger named Souta (Hokuto Matsumura). He asks her if she knows of any ruins in the area and she tells him where there are some. As they talk, though, she believes that she remembers him from somewhere. Determined to see if she is right, she goes to find him and when she does she finds herself part of a supernatural world that will soon see her going on a journey that she never expected.
That description of Suzume may seem a little cryptic, but this really is a film that you are best going into without knowing too much of what is going to happen. Shinkai’s screenplay allows the film to take many twists and turns throughout and the result is a very special film that feels like it is taking its audience on a journey as they watch along.
Perhaps the first thing that many will notice about Suzume are the amazing visuals. The animation and art, which was overseen by Ken’ichi Tsuchiya (Batman: The Long Halloween Part Two), is out of this world – in fact it is some of the best animation work that we have ever seen on the big screen. Each frame looks like it should be hanging on the wall of an art gallery and some of the characters and scenery look so realistic that it is very easy to forget that you are watching an animated film. The sequence in which Suzume is standing at the railway crossing on her way to school literally looks like a real-life shoot.
The second thing about Suzume that makes it such a powerful film is the story itself. The supernatural storyline is truly stunning – it is original but still easy to follow. And while that is the central part of the film Shinkai also allows the screenplay to bring across a lot of characterisation and human emotion. One of the most important plotlines here revolves around the fact that Suzume has never really moved on from the fact that her mother left for work one day and never returned.
You don’t really expect an animated film to go deeply into a topic like a young girl experiencing grief yet here in Suzume we find it explored in such great depth that some audience members will find themselves crying. In fact, this is the kind of film that many people will find will affect them deeply as it is impossible not to think of people that you have lost in your own life while watching it.
The other important part to Suzume that makes this such a memorable film is the soundtrack. Largely created by Japanese rock band Radwimps every track of the soundtrack takes the audience on the same journey that the film does. Tracks like To Be With Sota, Kanata Haluka and Suzume (which features the vocals of Toaka) are so good that any one of them should have been nominated for an Oscar award.
Suzume is not only one of the best films of 2023 it is one of the greatest animation films of all time. With all the heart of films like I Want To Eat Your Pancreas and the supernatural thrills of the Harry Potter franchise, this is a film that is guaranteed to be classed as one of the most visually stunning films of all time.
Suzume is currently screening in Phuket and is rated ‘G’.
David Griffiths has been working as a film and music reviewer for over 20 years. That time has seen him work in radio, television and in print. You can follow him at www.facebook.com/subcultureentertainmentaus
solar_serfer | 03 May 2023 - 21:33:25