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SUZUME

What You Need To Know:

SUZUME is an animated Japanese fantasy set in modern day where a 17-year-old girl, Suzume, meets a mysterious college student named Souta. She travels across Japan with Souta to help him stop a demonic supernatural force lurking beneath Japan that’s trying to cause natural disasters throughout Japan. Suzume is responsible for letting the force escape, so she feels responsible for helping Souta. Along the way, the two encounter a crazy cat who’s supposed to be guarding the gates from which the force escapes.

SUZUME is everything that’s good and bad about the best of Japanese animation. The animation is beautiful, and the story and characters are winsome, funny and sometimes heartrending. For example, Suzume lost her mother during the Fukushima tsunami and is haunted by that experience. However, SUZUME the movie has lots of false religion. The false religion seems to be a combination of polytheism and mystical animism. There are multiple references to gods and keystone objects that seem like idols, for example. The story’s resolution in SUZUME is meant to offer hope and healing, but the movie’s false theology is unacceptable.

Content:

(PaPaPa, FRFRFR, EE, B, L, VV, AA, D, M):

Dominant Worldview and Other Worldview Content/Elements:
Very strong, somewhat mixed worldview with lots of false religion that seems to mix mystical animism with polytheism and contains some undeveloped nature worship, plus some moral elements about a girl searching for her mother who died during a natural disaster and eventually reconciling with her aunt who took care of her after she lost her mother

Foul Language:
Five obscenities (three “d” words and two “h” words) and no profanities

Violence:
Intense, sometimes scary, peril where people and cities are threatened periodically by an impersonal supernatural force, depicted as a large red rope that rises high into the sky and crashes down on the ground and causes earthquakes, a large cat bites the red rope several times during the movie’s climax, young man is transformed into a small chair with three legs that he can move somehow, characters struggle to close a door that serves as a gate through which the supernatural red rope can escape and create havoc, man’s upper left arm is wounded and bandaged, images of man supernaturally being encased in ice, a car runs into a ditch, images of earthquakes, and little girl searches for her dead mother who died during a tsunami (the girl doesn’t understand death)

Sex:
No sex scenes or sexual immorality, but 17-year-old girl has a crush on a college-age man throughout the move and the romance ends with the man promising the girl he’ll return to see her when she’s older

Nudity:
No nudity

Alcohol Use:
Men appear drunk in a Japanese bar in one scene where women serve as hostesses whose job is to get the customers to buy drinks

Smoking and/or Drug Use and Abuse:
One side male character smokes several times, but there are no drugs or drug references; and,

Miscellaneous Immorality:
Teenage girl lies multiple times to her guardian aunt about where she is and where she’s going.

More Detail:

SUZUME is an animated Japanese fantasy set in modern day where a 17-year-old girl helps a mysterious college student stop a demonic supernatural force that’s trying to cause natural disasters throughout Japan. SUZUME is a humorous fantasy adventure with a winsome, often scary storyline, but its heartwarming, profound moments come with lots of false theology.

Suzume is a 17-year-old girl who’s been living with her aunt since her mother died 12 years ago during the 2011 tsunami that destroyed her hometown and the Fukuyama nuclear power plant. After her mother’s death, Suzume and her aunt moved to the other side of the country. However, Suzume’s still haunted by nightmares about looking for her mother, when she entered a strange door that led to another world with fields of green.

Cut to Suzume bicycling to school one day, when she runs across a mysterious young man going the other way. He asks her if she knows where he can find some ruins nearby, and she points further down the road, to some ruins in the old bathhouse district in the hills. Suzume starts heading again for school, but she thinks she’s seen the man before, so several minutes later she turns back to follow him.

Suzume finds the ruins, but the young man’s nowhere to be seen. She happens upon a single door standing alone in the middle of a large puddle of water. She wades into the water and opens the door. Just like her nightmares, the door opens to another world containing fields of green under a sky filled with stars.

Suzume steps through the door, but she ends back on the other side of the door in the middle of the water. She does this several times, and each time she just ends up on the other side of the door. As she backs away from the open door, which is still showing the fields and the stars, her foot stumbles into a small wooden carving of a cat. She lifts up the carving, and it turns into a real white cat that runs off across the water! Startled, Suzume runs off in the opposite direction.

Suzume finally gets to school and talks to two female classmates during lunch. She starts talking about the ruins and the door she found when she looks out the window and sees a red strand of smoke coming from the ruins in the distance. No one else sees it, however. Meanwhile, everyone’s phone gets an earthquake warning, and a short 4.0 quake strikes and, just as quickly, ends.

Suzume runs out of the school, grabs her bike and starts pedaling toward the ruins. Meanwhile, the red band is getting higher and higher in the sky, with smaller strands emerging from it.

Suzume arrives at the ruins and sees that the red band is emanating from the door. She runs to the door and sees the mysterious young man trying to close the door. The red band is as wide as the door now, and the door flings the man’s body away. Suzume rushes to his side while beams of yellow light start emanating from the water into the sky.

Meanwhile, the large red band starts falling. It darkens the sky above the town, but no one notices below. It finally hits the ground, and another earthquake warning pings everyone’s phone.

The young man protects Suzume from falling but injures his left upper arm. He then rushes back to the door to try to close it, and Suzume runs to help him. The young man starts to pray to the “Divine Gods who dwell beneath this land.” “You have protected us for generations,” he prays. “Your mountains and rivers that we have called our own, I return them to you!” At that, he and Suzume manage to close the door, and the young man uses a magical golden key to lock the door.

Everything turns back to normal, and the man starts telling Suzume that the door is actually a gate to stop the red band from entering their world. He calls the red band a “worm,” and adds that a “keystone” is supposed to be guarding the door and stopping the gate from opening.

Suzume takes the young man, whose name is Souta, back to her house to bandage his arm. She bandages his arm while he sits on her little yellow child’s chair that’s missing one of its four legs.

Souta tells her that the red worm that came through the gate or door is a giant force that exists beneath the Japanese islands. It rages and shakes the land if it’s disturbed. Souta says it’s his job to close a gate when the worm gets loose, but it’s the keystone’s job to seal the gate or door to keep the worm from escaping.

At that moment, the white cat from earlier appears at the windowsill. Suzume feeds it some sardines. Suddenly, the cat starts talking to them. “Suzume is kind,” it says, but it tells Souta, “You are in the way.” The cat blinks, and Souta is suddenly transformed into the yellow chair.

Souta gets angry when he realizes what’s happened. The cat starts to run away, and the chair starts chasing him out the window and down the street, with Suzume running after them, but not before picking up the golden key that hung around Souta’s neck and rushing past her aunt who’s just coming home.

The cat jumps on the ferry to the main island. Souta, who’s now the chair, and Suzume follow, but the cat jumps on a passing speedboat.

The rest of the movie involves Suzume and Souta following the cat, who was obviously the keystone guarding the gate that kept the red worm confined to the other world. Souta tells Suzume that the other world has access to all times and places. The cat leads them to three other gates in Japan, including Kobe, Tokyo and the original gate near Fukushima that Suzume entered when her mother died. Suzume and Souta work together to close the gates and stop the worm, but each time the worm gets bigger and stronger.

Meanwhile, Suzume keeps lying to her aunt about what’s happening. The aunt thinks some boy is trying to take advantage of her. Eventually, she goes to Tokyo to meet up with Suzume and bring her back home.

Everything leads back to Suzume as a bewildered little girl who didn’t understand why she couldn’t find her mother.

SUZUME is everything that’s good and bad about the best of Japanese animation.

The animation is beautiful. The story and characters are winsome, funny and even touching. Watching the chair follow the cat down the street, for example, is hilarious. The dialogue is also often funny. For instance, when Souta complains about Suzume fussing about taking care of his injured arm, Suzume says to herself, “Is he some kind of man-boy?”

In addition, SUZUME tells a poignant, heartrending story about a girl who lost her mother and the aunt who was suddenly thrust into becoming the girl’s mother and now has trouble dealing with her rebellious niece. The resolution of this story is heartwarming.

However, SUZUME also tells a story about strange supernatural forces. The red worm is some kind of demonic force, but it seems to have no personality. Also, Souta prays to unnamed “Divine Gods” who dwell beneath Japan and protect human beings. He also calls the little cat/keystone a god. Eventually, a second keystone appears in the form of a much larger cat, and Souta calls that keystone a god too. The keystones seem like idols, even though no one worships them. The movie never explains the theology behind these entities and forces, but it appears to be a combination of polytheism and mystical animism. As such, it also seems to be a kind of nature religion.

Ultimately, SUZUME is about the anxiety and dread that the future, in the form of large earthquakes, tsunamis and other natural disasters, creates among the populace in Japan and other places around the world. The story’s resolution in SUZUME is meant to offer hope and healing, but the movie’s false theology is unacceptable.

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Our small team works tirelessly to provide resources to protect families from harmful media, reviewing 415 movies/shows and writing 3,626 uplifting articles this year. We believe that the gospel can transform entertainment. That’s why we emphasize positive and faith-filled articles and entertainment news, and release hundreds of Christian movie reviews to the public, for free. No paywalls, just trusted, biblically sound content to bless you and your family. Online, Movieguide is the closest thing to a biblical entertainment expert at your fingertips. As a reader-funded operation, we welcome any and all contributions – so if you can, please give something. It won’t take more than 52 seconds (we timed it for you). Thank you.


4000+ Faith Based Articles and Movie Reviews – Will you Support Us?

Our small team works tirelessly to provide resources to protect families from harmful media, reviewing 415 movies/shows and writing 3,626 uplifting articles this year. We believe that the gospel can transform entertainment. That’s why we emphasize positive and faith-filled articles and entertainment news, and release hundreds of Christian movie reviews to the public, for free. No paywalls, just trusted, biblically sound content to bless you and your family. Online, Movieguide is the closest thing to a biblical entertainment expert at your fingertips. As a reader-funded operation, we welcome any and all contributions – so if you can, please give something. It won’t take more than 52 seconds (we timed it for you). Thank you.