According to an exclusive interview with Looper, Makoto Shinkai, a Japanese filmmaker and director, confirmed that his recent anime film, Suzume, was initially planned as a romantic story between two women. However, the producers insisted that one of the romantic leads should be a man, resulting in a change of plans.
Shinkai explained in the interview that he wanted to explore a lesbian romance because he was tired of the conventional romantic tropes between a man and a woman. However, he acknowledged that such traditional elements are often the reason why these movies resonate with audiences, much like Your Name did.
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Why I even wanted to go in that direction in the first place was because I personally felt a little bit tired of telling the very traditional romance story. I felt that in “Your Name,” I [did] everything that I possibly could in terms of “boy meets girl” and “will they, won’t they, will they meet.” That element of romance is very relatable to the masses, which is why it was a subject matter that resonated with a large audience.
Personally, because I’ve done that so many times, I pivoted. I wanted to pivot to a more sisterhood type of romantic story, but I had to change that because my producer said, “You may be tired of these romantic stories, but your audience loves it.” So in order to not make it too much of a romance, I decided to make her primary interest a chair.
He Also Said,
In terms of the LGBTQ commentary, it’s not something that I’m actively trying to write or not write or [is] a conscious decision. But with this film, Suzume as the main character, it works. But I think it would also work had she been a boy or had she been non-binary. It’s not necessarily the context of male/female; it’s about a human overcoming something. In my future films as well, I want to focus on that human story as opposed to too much commentary on gender or sex.
17-year-old Suzume’s journey begins in a quiet town in Kyushu when she encounters a young man who tells her, “I’m looking for a door.” What Suzume finds is a single weathered door standing upright in the midst of ruins as though it was shielded from whatever catastrophe struck. Seemingly drawn by its power, Suzume reaches for the knob…
Doors begin to open one after another all across Japan, unleashing destruction upon any who are near. Souta is known as a “Closer” who travels across Japan locking these doors shut.
As the door opens, however, the mysterious white cat nicknamed “AristoCat” appears before them. “I love Suzume, but you [Souta] are in the way” as it uttered those words, Souta becomes Suzume’s childhood chair, she has cherished since she was little.
Souta chases the cat as a 3-legged chair, and Suzume sprints after Souta in a panic. Eventually, they will travel together from Kyushu to Shikoku, Kansai and Tokyo on their journey to close doors.
On her travels, Suzume encounters several people who help her as she helps them. But what awaited her at the end of her journey was a certain truth that has been long forgotten.
Guided by these mysterious doors, Suzume’s journey is about to begin.
Suzume no Tojimari, the movie’s full title, was announced in December 2021, followed by the release of a visual and teaser trailer in April 2022. The film premiered in Japan on November 11, 2022, featuring character designs by Masayoshi Tanaka and art direction by Takumi Tanji. CoMix Wave Films produced the animation for the movie. Currently, the film is being shown internationally.
Source: Anime Corner, Looper