The 542nd film I have seen in theaters…

A teenager named Suzume is on her way to school when she bumps into an attractive boy who asks directions to the nearby ruins. She follows him and discovers a mysterious doorway in the middle of an abandoned hot springs resort. She opens the door to find a magical world filled with starlight. She tries to go through the door, but cannot pass through. She finds a strange cat shaped stone in the ground. She pulls it up, it becomes an actual cat, and runs away. Then things get strange…

I am always saying that I need to see more Anime. I had one movie left to see this month on my Showcase Cinema subscription. I had a choice of Renfield, D&D, The Pope’s Exorcist, or Suzume. I thought, what the hell. I am very glad that I did so.

This is a movie that ruminates on the 3/11/11 Tōhoku Earthquake and the prevalence of abandoned places, as Japan is going through a population decline which leaves many places deserted. This is incorporated into the plot as the characters travel around Japan closing magical doors in various abandoned structures. One such place is her hometown, destroyed in the Tsunami. I’ve always had a fascination with these sorts of places, wondering, or remembering, what they were like in their heyday, especially Amusement Parks. There was one near me, Rocky Point Park. I went there often as a child, but it closed around 1994. Not that “I” would ever sneak onto the grounds of private property… but many others did over the years and took photos and videos of the place in various states of ruin. This movie taps into that specific experience for me as one of the doors is hidden in an old amusement park.

The plot of this is fairly straightforward, but it is well executed. The art and animation are really excellent. So many scenes of this movie are evocative of specific times and places in my life. These are probably fairly universal images as well, so the creators knew what they were doing. The music was also outstanding, and yes I found myself listening to the soundtrack on the drive home. As always, I recommend the subtitled version of movies, but the dub is also released in theaters if you prefer. Definitely check this one out if you can. 9/10

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