Summary : In a quiet little town in Kyushu, a 17-year-old girl, susume, meets a man who says he is traveling in search of a door. Deciding to follow him into the mountains, she discovers a dilapidated door enthroned in the middle of the ruins, the only vestige that has survived the passage of time. Yielding to an inexplicable impulse, susume turn the handle, and other doors then open to the four corners of Japan, letting in all the disasters they contained. The man is formal: any open door must be closed. susume got lost where the stars are, dusk and dawn, a celestial vault where all times merge. Guided by doors shrouded in mystery, she begins a journey to close them all.
In an interview, Makoto Shinkai recount :
“It was around the beginning of 2020 that I started to seriously write the text for this project. At that time, I had two ideas in mind. The first was to make a story that soothes a place, that mourns it. The second was that it be the story of a young girl traveling with an atypical being. I only had these two vague ideas.
The idea of mourning a place didn’t come to me suddenly at the time, I had been thinking about it for a long time. Humans do a lot of funerals for their peers, but nothing for the land or the city. So for a few years, I had the idea of telling a story where its heroes would mourn places by calming down and praying for them.
This film does not name any location, but in the novel I clearly state that there was a great earthquake in the East in 2011* which shook half of the Japanese archipelago. It is essentially an adventure and entertainment story, but it is rooted in this disaster.
I was constantly immersed in the feeling that Japan, or rather the place where I lived, was slowly disappearing, and that something was coming to an end. With hindsight, I feel that the disaster of March 11, 2011 was the trigger for this feeling.
One thing I remember clearly are the cherry trees that bloomed in Tokyo ten days after the earthquake of March 11, 2011. It was natural, but I remember being really surprised. It consoled me to know that, whatever happens, the days will continue to pass like this; and at the same time I was deeply afraid of feeling nature’s coldness and indifference towards humans. At the stage of writing the project, I clearly decided that it would be a film about the disaster.
susume is just one of many works of disaster literature. It’s certainly not rare or special. However, I believe there has to be meaning to our work in that we’ve done it as an original animated film as part of entertainment that’s being widely released.
Above all, I wanted to make a funny film. It’s a funny film and says something very obvious. It would be nice to be able to tell the story that susume was saved not because of anything transcendent, but that she lived normally for the twelve years following the catastrophe, and that this simple fact saved her. I thought that if I could draw like that, the public could feel the sensation of confronting the catastrophe. At the end of the film, if the words of susume to a young girl who is herself I am the susume of tomorrow ! can resonate with audiences, so this movie was worth making. »
Filmography of Makoto Shinkai
- 1999 Her and her cat (short film)
- 2002 Voices of a Distant Star (short film)
- 2007 5 centimeters per second (feature film)
- 2011 Journey to Agartha (feature film)
- 2013 The Garden of Words (medium length)
- 2016 Your Name. (feature film)
- 2019 The Children of Time (feature film)
- 2022 susume (feature film)
* The 2011 Pacific Coast Tōhoku Earthquake in Japan is a magnitude 9.1 earthquake that occurred off the northeast coast of Honshū Island on March 11.
It generated a tsunami with waves nearly 30 meters high in places that traveled up to 10 km inland. They ravaged nearly 600 km of coastline and partially or completely destroyed many towns and port areas. This earthquake caused 18,079 dead and missing, injuries and considerable destruction.