tek's rating:

Suzume (PG)
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Written and directed by Makoto Shinkai. This movie is my idea of what anime is meant to be: redonkulous and beautiful. (I mean, anime is supposed to be lots of different things, but this really hit a sweet spot for me.) It did very well both financially and critically.

It begins with a dream. A young girl is desperately searching for her mother throughout fields and ruins. Finally, a figure approaches her, though it's unclear whether or not it's her mother. Then the girl wakes up. Suzume is now 17 years old, living with her aunt Tamaki, as she has done since her mother died when she was four years old (the age she was in the dream). While bicycling to school one day, she meets a young man named Souta, who asks her if there are any ruins nearby. She tells him about an abandoned town, and continues on her way. But soon she decides to go looking for the man in the ruins. She doesn't find him, but she does find a door standing alone amongst the ruins, which is a feature the man had been looking for. Opening it, she sees a strange, starlit field. But going through the door doesn't take her anywhere. After a little while, she notices a small cat statue standing up in the water surrounding the door, and picks it up. It transforms into a real cat and runs away.

Suzume returns to school, but while eating lunch she sees strange smoke emerging from the distant ruins, but no one else can see it. She rushes back to the ruins, and finds Souta trying to close the door, to stop whatever was coming through. Together, they manage to close the door. Suzume then learns that Souta is a "closer", which means he travels around Japan, closing and locking doors such as this one, to stop something called the "worm" (the smoke she saw before) from coming through to our world from a place called the Ever-After, because it causes earthquakes and all sorts of destruction. While they're talking, the cat from earlier appears and speaks to Suzume. It then turns Souta into the small, three-legged chair he had been sitting on. The chair can now walk and talk. Anyway, Souta determines that the cat is a keystone that been placed near the door years ago to keep it shut. It must be returned to its former statue shape and... well, I thought it would have to be returned to the door where Suzume found it, but apparently not. It would eventually have to be used to stop the worm from coming through some door. The cat runs away, and Souta chases it, both to turn it back into a statue and to get his own body back, and Suzume chases after both of them. Soon, social media is covered with pictures of the cat, whom people name Daijin, as well as the strange running chair.

Well, throughout their pursuit of Daijin, Suzume and Souta close a few more doors together. And Suzume makes some new friends, who provide her with food and a place to stay each night along the journey. At one point, Suzume meets a friend of Souta's named Tomoya, who is looking for Souta. Obviously, Suzume can't just tell him Souta is a chair now. I don't want to reveal too many more details of the adventure, but some time later Suzume runs into Tomoya again, and just then Tamaki shows up looking for Suzume, to bring her home. However, they both end up riding in Tomoya's car, along with Daijin, to find Souta. (He was no longer with Suzume at this point, but I'm not going to reveal why.) But I will say they have to find the door from the ruins in Suzume's dream, which was actually a memory. And... I can't say much more than that, but the story kind of comes full circle in a way I'd bee expecting ever since the start of the movie. And there's a happy ending.

Yeah, lots of other stuff happens, and there are several characters I haven't even mentioned. But it's just... as I said before, redonkulous and beautiful. The characters are all pretty great, including the ones I haven't mentioned. It's got great animation, a great score, and a really interesting story, which somehow managed to seem realistic in lots of little ways, despite all the magical stuff going on. And that's all I've got to say.

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