Suzume: An Ambitious Yet Flawed Animated Film
The Intriguing Original Title vs. The Disappointing Localization
Suzume, directed by Shinkai Makoto, is an animated film that showcases abundant craftsmanship and ambition. However, it misses the mark by rushing viewers through its doors without allowing the content to properly sink in. The localized title, “Suzume,” is a disappointment compared to its original title, “Suzume no Tojimari,” which translates to “Suzume’s Door Closing.” The original title immediately piques curiosity, prompting questions about the significance of the door and why Suzume needs to close it. Unfortunately, the lackluster localized title fails to invoke any sense of mystique or provide clues about the movie’s premise. A change in translation is warranted here.
An Engaging Animation Experience
One aspect where Suzume excels is its animation. Every frame bursts with vibrancy, and the character designs, while simple, leave a lasting impression. The film effectively incorporates 3D CG effects, which seamlessly blend with the 2D animation. Typically, CG in 2D animation can feel out of place, like KFC chicken wings in a tonkatsu restaurant. However, in Suzume, the CG enhances the otherworldly appearance of the giant supernatural “worm.” Instead of distracting from the overall experience, it adds to the film’s visual appeal.
Ambition and Disasters as Key Themes
Suzume ambitiously tackles the theme of disasters throughout its narrative. The road trip format takes protagonist Iwato Suzume and Souta, the mysterious young man she encounters, to various locations in Japan that have been abandoned or destroyed by tragic events. The film explores how the local communities cope and adapt to their circumstances. Drawing inspiration from the unfortunate reality of recurring earthquakes in Japan, Suzume portrays the pain and impact of these disasters on people’s lives.
Pacing Issues Hinder Storytelling
Despite its ambitious premise, Suzume stumbles due to poor execution of its pacing. The movie feels like an abridged version, especially during the fast-paced first half. Conversations between characters often rush by, giving the impression that everyone is in a hurry to use the restroom. This rapid pace undermines the development of side characters and their connection to the central theme. The brief encounters Suzume has in her journey feel disjointed and fail to leave a lasting impact on the audience.
Furthermore, this pacing issue renders the plot somewhat repetitive, particularly in the first half. Suzume embarks on a road trip with encounters with new side characters and subsequent door closings. However, due to the rapid succession and lack of time for the locations to sink in, the movie’s pattern becomes monotonous and predictable.
One of the film’s major setbacks is the lack of sufficient character development. Despite finding Suzume endearing and daring at times, it is challenging to form a strong opinion about her due to the limited insight into her normal life. Only a brief glimpse is provided before she becomes entangled in the door closing mission. Even elementary school icebreakers offer more substantial information about a person than what Suzume’s character allows us to perceive.
Consequently, Suzume’s motivations come across as flimsy. While witnessing Souta’s transformation into a chair may be cause for concern, it is questionable whether it justifies embarking on a countrywide trip immediately. Understanding Suzume’s personality and values could have provided more nuanced justifications for her actions, such as extreme responsibility or a desire for an unconventional life. Any additional insight would have made her decisions more relatable and believable.
The film also struggles to establish a convincing romantic relationship between Suzume and Souta. The fast-paced narrative does not provide sufficient time or context for viewers to perceive their feelings as love rather than camaraderie. The absence of a musical number or other creative storytelling devices to solidify their bond further weakens their connection. It becomes challenging to discern romantic development between a human and an inanimate chair.
Suzume attempts to incorporate a multitude of themes, including disasters, road trips, romance, Japanese mythology, and family drama. However, this ambitious approach leads to an overstuffed storyline. The film would have benefitted from a TV show format or a two-part movie that allowed for more comprehensive exploration of both the main and side characters. Fleshing out these characters would have added depth and significance to their roles, rather than leaving them feeling like RPG NPCs.
A Shallow, Yet Enjoyable Experience
While Suzume falls short of its ambitions, it still offers an enjoyable experience. Visually stunning, with likable characters, the film manages to hold the audience’s interest on a superficial level. However, like taking small dips and splashes in a swimming pool without fully diving in, the experience remains shallow. To fully appreciate the film’s potential, it would require a deeper exploration of its themes and characters.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Is Suzume based on a true story?
No, Suzume is a work of fiction created by director Shinkai Makoto.
2. Why is the title of the film localized?
The original title, “Suzume no Tojimari,” was changed to “Suzume” for the localized release, which unfortunately fails to capture the intrigue and depth of the original title.
3. Does the film explore other Japanese mythological aspects aside from the giant worm?
While the focus is primarily on the giant worm and its supernatural elements, Suzume touches upon a few other aspects of Japanese mythology, albeit briefly.
4. What age group is this film suitable for?
Suzume is suitable for viewers with a high school education or above. Younger audiences may find some themes and content difficult to grasp.
5. Are there any plans for international distribution outside of the announced countries?
At this time, there is no information regarding additional international distribution for Suzume. Please refer to Crunchyroll’s official updates for any future announcements.
In conclusion, Suzume showcases commendable animation craftsmanship and ambition, but falls short in executing its storytelling effectively. Pacing issues, lack of character development, and an overstuffed narrative hinder the film from reaching its full potential. Nevertheless, Suzume offers visual beauty and likable characters that make for a decent watch. With room for improvement, future projects from director Shinkai Makoto hold promise for creating more impactful and engaging narratives.