Tuesday, April 25, 2023

Animated Reviews: Suzume

Suzume is the latest animated feature from Makoto Shinkai, which follows a successful series of movies in his filmography, like The Garden of Words, Children Who Chase Lost Voices, and 5 Centimeters per Second.

Y'know, I've harped on this in a prior blog post but it still bugs me. Before watching the spectacular film Your Name back in 2017, 5 Centimeters per Second was the only Makoto Shinkai film I'd seen before. And while I've seen '5 Centimeters' two times now, I still don't remember a single thing about it. In doing some research for this article, I read the plot and I still don't remember this film. I'm not sure what that means. I mean, it's a film by Makoto Shinkai, so I'm sure that the visuals were amazing, the characters relatable, and the story multi-faceted. I've got it on DVD but I'm not sure what a third viewing would do for me. It's only an hour long, so wouldn't be a bad thing to watch it again, but I find it odd that I can remember details about some really obscure animations, however this one gives me so much trouble. I didn't even remember that I had watched it two times when I wrote that blog post in 2017. Now that I've reviewed the reference blog post, the really odd thing is that I remember mentioning not remembering watching the film to a friend, and then going on to watch the film with him--but I still don't remember the film itself. Here's the trailer for '5 Centimeters'.

Nope. Don't remember any of it. The thing that spooks me about the idea of rewatching it for a third time is what if I walk away not remembering anything about it--even with all the information I now have regarding the characters and plot? I have to admit though, due to the nature of memory being so nebulous it's almost more interesting to me to know the reason why it's so difficult to remember watching this film. Hrm.

Oh, yeah. Suzume...

Well, it's a Makoto Shinkai film, so, as I said earlier, the visuals, backgrounds, and character animation, you know they're going to be spectacular. And this film did not disappoint. The story is about a girl who meets a young man on the way to her school and she quickly gets swept up into a supernatural plot to stop massive earthquakes in Japan. The layer beneath the metaplot is the young man trying to explain to her the nature of reality all while she is coming to terms with tragedies in her own past. For me though, it really wasn't the supernatural/sci-fi elements of the story that roped me in, it was the human elements: those relationships that develop between the characters as she races against time across Japan. Those interactions are the really interesting elements of this film. Those alone make Suzume worth a second viewing.

In the pantheon of Shinaki's films that I've seen, I'd put this one as better than Weathering with You but not as good as Your Name. I do recommend watching this movie in the theaters while it's still there--a large format screen really allows for one to absorb a lot of visual detail that you'll miss on a television screen--but be sure to see it when it comes to streaming platforms or DVD/BluRay. While I didn't have enough of an emotional connection to "Weathering" to want it in my DVD collection, Suzume is one of those that I just might pick up when it hits the stores. 

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