‘Suzume’: An honest review

The best audio-visuals anime has to offer


Suzume wanders into the unknown. Via CoMix Wave Films.

In Makoto Shinkai’s latest installment of teenagers wandering around Japan to find themselves, “Suzume” follows a coming of age story about a teenager emotionally maturing by traveling with her “companion chair,” mentor and significantly-older love interest.

Jokes aside, “Suzume” is a masterclass both visually and musically that is worth every penny for the movie ticket, but be warned, it doesn’t have the best plot or story – just like a Marvel movie.

Overall, the film is a 8.5 out of 10.

“Suzume” is worth a watch in theaters but is simply not worth the two-hour watch on a small display with an inadequate speaker system, like a cellphone or laptop.

Now on to the review:

Art: 9/10

As always, Makoto Shinkai’s artistic directing is astonishingly beautiful. I was stunned to watch an anime movie with the most beautiful backgrounds rivaling classical landscapes, which were used for only ten seconds of a two-hour movie. Every single background can literally be used as an HD wallpaper.

Without going into spoilers, one point was deducted from the score because a certain recurring scene looked ugly, not threatening, and honestly looked like a phallic object.

Animation: 9/10

Despite the disturbing phallic object, the animation made it feel dangerous in combination with the music. The animation of the film looked similar to that of “Demon Slayer,” with breathing techniques almost replicated from the anime.

Near the beginning portion of the film, everybody in the theater was overwhelmed with cuteness and overloaded by how the children’s chairs ran.

Although consistent and high-quality animation was a key aspect of the movie, a 10 out of 10 is unwarranted because there was not a single moment in the film that painted the film’s animation as a masterpiece.

Music: 10/10

Talking about masterpieces, the music for “Suzume” was indeed perfect. The main motif was emphasized only when the scenes were directly about the character Suzume, allowing for this tune to have deeper meaning instead of just being a cool musical easter egg.

Aside from the main theme song, there were a variety of different genres throughout the film that fit perfectly into the story. This change in music created climactic scenes which were scarier and more impactful, emotional scenes that are sure to move viewers to tears and straight-up bangers that are playlist worthy.

Dialogue: 7/10

The dialogue was enhanced tenfold by the amazing and moving music. Take the music away from the film though and anyone could tell that the dialogue was incredibly corny.

Without getting into spoilers, Souta, the guy that gets turned into a chair, sometimes code-switches into talking like the Oracle from “Percy Jackson.” Then, he says the most cringe-inducing cliches.

Other than Souta, every other aspect of the dialogue was fantastic. The banter between characters was funny and there were real heartfelt moments between characters.

Voice acting: 10/10

The voice of Suzume, Hara Nanako, carried the show in terms of voice acting. She went above and beyond to sell the main character and all the emotions she went through in her journey. Nanako is infamous for her crying chops in Japanese movies and you can immediately see why she is famous for that aspect in “Suzume.”

Other than Suzume, Souta’s voice actor sold his lines even though they were corny. Eri Fukatsu who voiced Suzume’s aunt went above and beyond to mold one of my favorite characters despite not having many lines compared to both Suzume and Souta.

Story: 6/10

The story was not impressive and even left a few loose ends. It was nice to watch Suzume grow as a person throughout the movie, but it felt very forced and it didn’t really make too much sense as to how she grew knowing her personality.

In summary, the story is just a hero’s journey that is done poorly. The emotional stakes before the death and rebirth part of the film were nothing to get invested in and the overall reward for completing the journey arc was literally nothing.

The story was not as emotional or nearly as moving as Shinkai’s other works.

Storyboard: 9/10

Something that most people don’t really talk about, but is vital to having an impactful anime is the storyboard or an organized graphic that visualizes an animation before it is drawn.

The storyboarding was phenomenal and gave me chills during the climaxes of the film. A particularly awe-inspiring scene was when the movie cut to people doing their daily activities while eerie, gospel-like music played. Without context, it does not seem very impactful, but in the immersion of the film, is completely stunning.

There were many other scenes that were beautifully directed and expressed the full emotional value of the film, but going further into details would be spoiling the movie.

Miscellaneous factors: 8/10

The first half of the movie was reminiscent of the Netflix anime “Tokyo Sinks,” an advertisement for tourism in Japan as the Olympics were going to take place in Tokyo that same year. As Japan opened its borders again to tourism, this movie felt like it was an ad to visit the various special places Japan has to offer, like a traditional Japanese onsen, a hostess bar or a delicious burger at a Japanese McDonald’s.

There was also a McDonald’s product placement in the movie, which was funny to see because the food in anime is always hailed as looking tasty. This notion is juxtaposed with McDonald’s being drawn in an anime style.

Overall “Suzume” delivers a top-notch anime, where it lacks in the story, the film makes up with stunning visuals and powerful music to match. You can get the most out of this experience by catching the film on the big screen in movie theaters while it is still available.