When Suzume’s (Nicole Sakura in English and Nanoka Hara in Japanese) mother is killed by a tsunami, her Aunt Tamaki (Jennifer Sun Bell in English and Eri Fukatsu in Japanese) takes her in and raises Suzume as her own daughter. On the way to school one sunny day, Suzume encounters a strange man called Sota (Josh Keaton in English and Hokuto Matsumura in Japanese) who is looking for a random door in an abandoned village. Suzume gives him directions but then decides to see if she can help him herself. While searching the ruins, Suzume finds a mysterious door that leads to another world. She lifts up a strange object, which turns into a cute but devious cat called Daijin (Lena Josephine Merano in English and Ann Yamane in Japanese). Completely freaked out, Suzume runs away leaving the portal open behind her. Upon returning to school, Suzume realises she can see things that others can’t. She notices mysterious smoke in the sky, along with sinister red and black clouds that twist and turn. This turns out to be a creature called a ‘worm’ that causes natural disasters wherever it goes. Instinctively, Suzume knows that these things are coming from the doorway she left open and she races back to the abandoned village to close it. Here she encounters Sota, who is trying to close the door himself. Together, the pair fight back the red smoke and destructive forces trying to escape but their relief at closing the portal doesn’t last for long. Suzume realises that the object which transformed into a cat was actually a keystone, which is needed to keep the portal closed. What makes matters worse, is that Daijin turns Sota into a child’s chair and then begins running all over Japan opening other portals. Suzume and Sota (in his chair form) follow along, trying to reach the doors before the evil forces are released and numerous human lives are lost.
A child separated from her mother; death of a parent; tsunamis, earthquakes; mystical creatures causing rampant destruction; portals to other worlds
Suzume has some violence. For example:
- As Suzume and Sota try to close a portal, they are repeatedly pushed back, glass shatters around them and Sota’s arm is badly cut by a falling beam.
- Sota, in his chair form, runs towards Daijin and nearly hits the cat.
- When Suzume repeatedly insists on helping Sota save people from the worm, he asks her if she is not afraid to die.
- There are scenes of the destruction caused by earthquakes and tsunamis.
- The worm blasts out of doorways, occasionally it looks as if it is on fire or about to burst.
- Suzume is nearly hit by cars as she runs across a busy road. She jumps off a bridge as horrified onlookers watch but instead of falling down, she is pulled up by the worm that is twisting and turning. She then falls through the worm and back down to Earth. She awakens in the waterways of an underground tunnel, looking battered and bloody and bruised.
- Suzume hits Daijin, lashing out at the cat for its role in Sota’s destruction. She picks up the cat and almost throws it but then puts it down, telling it she never wants to see it again.
- Sota’s grandfather yells angrily at Suzume from his hospital bed.
- A character crashed his car.
- Suzume finds a door that she can enter, taking her to the world where Sota is trapped. As Suzume enters, it is like the earth is on fire and the worm is a black, lava-like creature.
- A large, black cat transforms into a white creature and begins fighting the worm.
- Suzume falls into a fiery heap, but Daijin breaks her fall.
- Cars nearly crush Suzume.
- A large creature hits and claws at the worm.
- Suzume pulls Sota’s chair legs out of the worm where he is embedded. Daijin bites at the chair legs and ultimately retakes its place as the keystone.
- Sota (back in human form) and Suzume are nearly crushed by falling debris.
- Suzume and Sota stab the keystone back into the worm.
Suzume has some sexual references. For example:
- When her aunt tells Suzume that she will be home late, Suzume asks if she has a date and tells her aunt to take all night if she wants.
- Suzume has a crush on Sota, gets red cheeks at the thought of him and later professes her love for him.
- Suzume says that her aunt would be happier if she went on a date every once in a while.
- A couple of women tell Suzume how attractive Sota is.
- A character is referred to as a ‘playboy’.
- Tamaki is worried Suzume is having a boy over while she is not home. She asks her niece if she is seeing someone and calls the would-be boyfriend a ‘low-life good for nothing’.
- A random character asks Suzume and her aunt if they are in a love triangle with another character.
Alcohol, drugs and other substances
Suzume has some substance use. For example:
- Characters drink and smoke in a bar. Some appear to be drunk.
- A character asks for a beer.
- Adult characters smoke cigarettes on a few occasions.
Nudity and sexual activity
Suzume has some nudity and sexual activity. For example
- Suzume kisses the chair form of Sota to try to wake him up.
- Suzume is seen in the bathtub with her bare back as she washes blood off her body.
Suzume has some product placement. For example:
- Twitter is shown and used.
- Characters buy food and eat at McDonalds.
- Marlboro cigarettes are shown and used.
Suzume has some coarse language.
Ideas to discuss with your children
Suzume is a fantasy, adventure anime from the acclaimed writer-director Makoto Shinkai. The movie is likely to appeal to fans of the genre and anyone interested in Japanese culture. It is best suited to tweens and older audiences.
Here are the main messages from Suzume:
- Life can be very hard, but things won’t always be so tough.
- Nights can seem endless, but mornings will come.
- Ultimately, love is the most powerful force in the universe and something worth living and fighting for.
Values in Suzume that you could reinforce with your children include responsibility, sacrifice, teamwork, friendship and love.
Suzume could also give you the chance to discuss with your children the real-life consequence of behaviours such as:
- lying to your family about where you are and when you’ll be back.
- not telling anyone where you are going.
- following strangers or trusting strangers and getting a ride from someone you’re not familiar with.
- lack of communication with loved ones.