“I went to school, but my mother is gone.” It’s news from 12 years ago, but I still can’t forget it. In March 2011, news came that a tremendous earthquake with a magnitude of 9.0 had occurred in northeast Japan. As the story of the scene was being told one after another, a Japanese child who seemed to be in the lower grades of elementary school appeared on the news screen. Instinctively guessing that something sinister had happened, his face was already almost in tears. On that day when the tremendous sense of loss and fear that an unfamiliar child would have to endure came painfully as if it were stabbed into the heart for some reason, the tears welling up in my eyes did not stop for a while and I struggled. In the same year, the Great East Japan Earthquake and the worst tsunami in history killed 15,000 Japanese people who were someone’s mother and father, spouse, daughter and son.
Can a person who has not experienced it dare to imagine living with the vacancy of a family that suddenly ‘evaporated’? Ordinary people can only vaguely feel that many people with similar kinds of pain are living at the same time. At the end of the senses, some reach the decision that they need sincere consolation with all their souls. The Japanese animation ‘Suzume’s Door Crackdown’, which will be released on the 8th, is a work that contains such determination by director Shinkai Makoto. Twelve years have passed since the Great East Japan Earthquake, and even if there are people who no longer speak of the ‘incident’ in order to live, the children who appeared on the news at the time are now in their teens or just in their 20s. It is the result that was able to come out because I believed that someone should definitely give a warm hand to those who still have a lot of life left to ‘endure’.
‘Suzume’s Lockdown’ presents the situation in Japan, where earthquakes are an unavoidable disaster, as the background of the film. Mimizu, a dark creature that symbolizes a disaster without purpose or intention, appears and opens ‘back doors’ located throughout Japan, crawls up into the sky, and overturns heaven and earth without any discernment. Her main character, girl Suzume (Nanoka Hara), is chasing ‘back doors’ all over Japan to help Sota (Hokuto Matsumura), a ‘back gate keeper’ who is in her predicament because of her unintentional mistakes of her own, and her mimizu. He goes to lock down her door.
This journey is not unique in itself. This is because it has a large aspect of stably following the formula of Japanese box office animation, which has established itself as a genre called Japanimation. It is a bold narrative in which the main character, who has a homework to solve, puts his body into an unrealistic adventure and grows by a span. Here, high-quality drawing, unique imagination, and attractive characters combine to deliver a message. A gaze discussing the relationship between spirits and humans (‘Mononoke Hime’), a journey to take part in an adventure in another world to solve the magic (‘Spirited Away’), and the end of growing up while facing true feelings (‘Howl’s Moving Castle’), etc.
However, even in a familiar composition, it is a clear strength that it has entertainment elements and dynamics that sufficiently meet the general audience’s eye level. The moment when the invisible fear of an earthquake is embodied in the dark creature Mimizu, which lands on the sea and shakes the ground, the creative directing of disaster becomes one of the charms of watching this work. The power of the sequence in which the main character trying to protect the ‘back door’ solves the situation by performing shamanistic rituals, the warm humor that is buried between ordinary groups of people encountered throughout Japan, and the dedication of the main character who is doing his best to save the person he loves. It’s hard not to miss the excitement. The music that enhances the perfection also plays its part, and the brass band’s performance, which seems to be reminiscent of director Bong Joon-ho’s ‘Okja’ sequence, contains a boldness that seems to embrace even the unrestricted expression of experimental commercial feature films.
“I know that human life is fleeting, but I still want to live today and tomorrow for a long time.” At the climax of her adventure, the film reveals that Suzume was also a child who lost her mother in her disaster. Accepting the human destiny of being able to stand in front of an unexpected breakup at any time, but the message of the movie that you must become your tomorrow’s self to fix your broken self today is thrilling in that it finally encourages the mature will of the viewers. . The fact that director Makoto Shinkai, who has already achieved great commercial success with ‘Your Name’ (2017), has worked hard to summon the pain of the times, which has as much ripple effect as the Sewol ferry disaster for us, If you look at it together with the fact that it succeeded in comforting, ‘Suzume’s Door Crackdown’ deserves to be evaluated as a work that has reached a certain pinnacle of Japanese animation.