Anime director Makoto Shinkai is deservedly lauded for the amazing visuals and emotional impact he delivers in his films. What the guy probably doesn’t get enough credit for, though, is his punctuality.
In December of 2015, Shinkai announced "Your Name," which went on to become one of the most successful anime movies of all time. Then, in December of 2018, he gave us the first look at his next project, "Weathering with You." And now, in December of 2021, Shinkai is keeping that three-year rhythm with the unveiling of his newest anime, "Suzume no Tojimari."
Unlike "Your Name" and "Weathering with You," no official English title for "Suzume no Tojimari" was given at the film’s announcement on Wednesday. The “Suzume” portion, though, refers to main character Suzume, a 17-year-old girl living in a rural part of Japan’s southwestern island of Kyushu. As for tojimari, that means “firmly closing doors,” making "Suzume no Tojimari" akin to “Suzume’s Door-Shutting” or “Door-Shutting Suzume,” though you could also interpret it as “The Closing Up of Suzume.” In any case, the first piece of promotional art for the anime, sure enough, is of a door.
Shinkai describes "Suzume no Tojimari" as a road movie set in Japan’s haikyo. Though the word haikyo translates directly as “ruins,” it’s usually used for modern abandoned structures that have begun to crumble and deteriorate, not necessarily the remains of ancient civilizations (so, for instance, more Gunkanjima than Pompeii). As the story begins, Suzume meets a young man who’s traveled to her town in search of “a door.” Following him into the mountains, the pair comes to a mysterious door standing in the middle of the haikyo there. By some force, disaster and misfortune are coming through doors like this across Japan, but Suzume discovers she has the power to close them, and so she sets out on a journey to prevent the catastrophes before they occur.
The mention of disasters, along with the flooded scenery shown in the artwork, will likely have many fans thinking of the events of "Weathering with You," which takes place in the same world as "Your Name." It’s not known if "Suzume no Tojimari" is set in the same Makoto Shinkai anime universe, but the film’s announcement does say that it is a story of Suzume’s liberation and growth as a person, and is meant to be a ray of hope for those going through feeling uneasy or constricted in their daily lives. Shinkai himself calls it “A modern-day adventure story…and also an action movie,” that he thinks will be an entertaining anime.
As is the norm for Shinkai’s projects, in addition to directing "Suzume no Tojimari," he’s handling scriptwriting and is credited with the film’s original concept. No character art has been revealed as of this writing, but Masayoshi Tanaka, character designer for who "Your Name" and "Weathering with You," is returning, as are "Your Name"/"Weathering with You" animation director Kenichi Tsuchiya and art director Takumi Tanji, who filled that role for "Your Name" and was in charge of "Weathering with You’s" background art.
Animation production for "Suzume no Tojimari" began in April of 2020, and the film is scheduled for release in Japanese theaters in fall of 2022. No word yet as to whether or not the soundtrack will be performed by frequent collaborator and J-rock band Radwimps, but that might be something they’re waiting for the inevitably gorgeous trailer to reveal.
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