It is Tuesday and after a much deserved break yesterday, I am back with another set of reviews. First up, I finished watching the new Anime film Suzume which is directed by legendary director Makoto Shinkai, the mind behind the anime film Your Name. In times of animated film being targeted only to kids and young adults, anime films coming out of Japan have a much evolved and a matured sense of storytelling. There are layers of philosophy in this fantasy world filled with magic which is usually the USP of an anime film.
But one thing that has fascinated me as far as anime films are concerned are the concepts that they have been injecting in the drama. The elementals along with forces of nature are often explored to perfection in all of the anime that do make for a mystical and satisfying watch. I often do connect with them so much more, knowing that there may be another world on the other side filled with magic that often does its bit as invisible helpers, in providing help in any form or kind. This might be a difficult concept to absorb straight up but there may just be a force driving us all from within, the source of which can be the elementals or the invisible helpers or our own guardian angels. It is concepts like these that make you stop and breath a bit, knowing how diverse the universe can be beyond your and my imagination. That said, does Suzume manage to impress, lets find out.
Story & Screenplay
Suzume follows the story of 17 year old girl who along with her talking chair must prevent natural disasters from being unleashed which would otherwise endanger the whole population of Japan. The story here is enchanting and beautifully delving into the concept of the elementals helping humanity. It was so heart-touching that it would potentially make you want to view things from a larger picture where none of your problems would really matter at the end. The screenplay here standing at about 120 minutes is the apt length for this film that makes for a magical watch in so many ways than one.
The drama does open with the introduction of a young teenage girl and her chance encounter with a mysterious man. A series of events that follow do establish the job of the mysterious man along with the introduction of a conflict. The drama here is magical in so many ways with right bouts of symbolism that represent the elementals and the transit between the two worlds. For instance, the door appearing at multiple junctures of the drama does represent a passage between the two worlds(the other world being termed as ‘Ever After’ in the film). Also the ‘cats’ signify the keystones, a term used to curb the natural disasters.
The proceedings are thoroughly engaging and engrossing to a point wherein you are invested on the journey of the protagonist and her talking chair apart from them sharing a warm relationship. The use of the chair is also a source of nostalgia given that it was given to the protagonist by her mother who isn’t with her anymore. There are certain things that do invoke a sense of memory from the past is just so well represented here. I also did like how some of the real life disasters were used as a passing reference in the narrative of the world. The use of weather and the surroundings is put to good use and is an integral cog in the story. But at its core, the story is about the human emotions that are still wanting to hold the past while finding solace in the present while unknowingly interacting with the elementals or the invisible helpers. And that was just so beautifully showcased that it made for a tingling heartwarming feeling.
The third act of the film is filled with magic where the film did begin to talk to me in a strange way. While the goal was to prevent the natural disasters from recurring and finding the lost love of the protagonist, the internal conflicts of the protagonist were so well represented that they did touch my heart instantly. In a beautifully moving scene, the protagonist is shown talking to her future self and that did sooth me to no extent. It was a calming influence that ‘this might seem to be an endless night at the moment but there will be light in the future’ – a line enough to make a grown up man cry. The screenplay is beautifully penned exploring the invisible helpers yet providing so much hope that in the end everything will turn out to be fime whilst they are around.
Dialogues, Music & Direction
The dialogues are conversational but every now and then, there are some concepts that are explained that you would need to keep an eye on. The music has a tinge of melancholy to it and it does blend well with the drama. The BGM is heartfelt and it hits the right notes as far as the emotions are concerned. The animation is wonderful like the case being for any anime. There is a thing for anime that do flesh out characters so well that it helps you connect with them better. Director Makoto Shinkai does an incredible job by weaving a high concept anime with dollops of magic and hope. I did find myself thoroughly invested throughout and for that the direction deserves distinction marks.
The voiceovers are incredibly good and they add a tinge of magic to the proceedings as well. Ann Yamane as the voice of Daijin is excellent. As is Ryunosuke Kamiki as the voice of Serizawa. Eri Fukatsu as the voice of Tamaki is first rate. Hokuto Matsumura adds a lot of soul and depth as the voice of Souta. Nanoka Hara as the voice of Suzume is brilliant, taking you on a roller coaster of emotions that have you invested as a viewer.
Suzume is a beautifully heartfelt anime with dollops of magic that comes with my highest recommendation. Available in a theatre near you.