When high schooler Suzume Iwato has chance encounter with a handsome stranger on her way to school, she had no idea that it would not only change her life, but open her world more than she could possibly imagine. Finding a door in an abandoned hot springs town that leads to a star filled sky, a frozen stone statue that turns into a mischievous cat named Daijin, and the stranger, named Souta Munakata, is turned into Suzume’s childhood chair, it is safe to say things have taken a turn for the surreal. But now, Suzume joins Souta’s quest to close doors in the abandoned sections of Japan in order to stop calamity from befalling the populace. Gorgeous animation, an intriguing story and great performances from the cast, Suzume (or the original Japanese title, Suzume’s Locking Up) is an impressive film about growing up, human connection and what is left behind through the passage of time. Much like Your Name, (which they share the same writer and director, Makoto Shinkai), the film is an absolute treat for the eyes, with some incredibly fluid animation, and some impressive action as well. The moment that really shine, however, are the quiet moments, particularly between Suzume and Souta, as they talk about their lives and the lives of those that are bound to the doors that need to be closed. Their interactions formed the emotional core of the movie, and it was well serviced all through the 3rd act and into the finale. It also has an interesting perspective on how Japan has suffered from the declining birthrate, as looking at how large these abandoned areas are, and how, without a steady increase in population to support them, they simply shut down and are lost. It is very reminiscent of Spirited Away, when first entering the tunnel, it showed an abandoned theme park. At the same time though, the film also portrays the message that, just because these places are abandoned, the memories and feelings of the people who live there are still very much alive. Ultimately it is a message of reverence and hope, as there are new memories and feelings to be found in the present. While some parts of the lore are not well explained, and Daijin’s motivations seem a bit obtuse at times, this film is another great entry, and I would recommend it, if you are interested. If you are looking for a cross Japan adventure, grab you key and a three legged chair, because this is just what you are looking for!

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