Today was the big reveal of Makoto Shinkai's next movie, "Suzume no Tojimari [Suzume's Closure]" (no official English title yet) due 2022, autumn. Earlier in the morning (JST) he had already revealed a piece of promo art.
The action, road trip movie follows 17 year old girl Suzume where she travels together either another entity around islands to close doors that bring calamity to humankind.
A more detailed synopsis on Japanese movie sites:
17 year old girl Suzume lives in a quiet village on the island of Kyushu. One day, she meets a travelling young man who tells her, "I'm looking for a door." As Suzume follows him into the mountains where they find a worn door standing amidst the ruins. Suzume reaches out for the door as if pulled towards it by something...
Before long, doors were appearing throughout Japan. They had to shut the doors that bring disaster from the other side. And so their "door locking" journey begins, one full of never before seen scenery, the meeting and parting with various people, surprises and hardship awaits them. Yet, this story projects some light into our own daily lives; a journey that are also filled with uncertainty and limited freedom.
15th December 2021
Later there was a press conference at 11pm JST that had Mone Kamishiraishi (Mitsuha, Your Name) and Nana Mori (Hina, Weathering with You) as guests.
It was a pretty interesting 45 minutes so here's a rough interpretation of my highlights from the press conference on YouTube with my comments in orange.
Note: This was all written shortly after the live stream before official English subtitles were added to the video, which is why it won't match word by word.
[04:08] After Weathering, Your Name, there were many who requested I made their place the setting for the new movie so I wasn't sure what to do. It might seem a bit greedy but a road trip should cover that.
I can imagine!
[05:08] Second key phrase for this movie is, "closing the door." It's easy to start something but hard to wrap up on things such as family, romance and work. I wanted to focus on how various possibilities can appear after the closure of matters.
During the road trip, there will be various doors open across the country.
My first thought was Doraemon's "Everywhere Door" when I read this.
It sounds like it's going to be tough spot hunting since you'd have to travel the whole of Japan, lol. Oh well, more reason to explore the whole of Japan, not just the big cities and say, "been there, done that". I'm presuming there will be non-tourist spots like Ishikawa Park from Your Name. They actually haven't done the voice acting yet at the time of this conference. Still need to do the auditions for the heroine Suzume's role.
Sounding like we're returning to what Shinkai used to do before the romcom hits.
[22:19] It's an action movie so I tried imagining for example what a 17 year old girl would manage to do when leaping around.
Q & A
[32:00] Q: Does the story take place in the same universe as Your Name and Weathering?
The three movies won't be connected like The Avengers. A bit different from the usual action movie. It's a complete new story but you never know, the characters might make an appearance.
Going by the old movies, the Weathering characters will probably make a cameo. My guess is Hodaka will probably be working in the magazine business. Hodaka maybe running her own cafe while her brother Nagi's off to university. Natsumi might appear a pro bike racer.
[33:20] Q: What made you create a character like Suzume?
Well, the concept of locking up doors came first. As I travelled around Japan, there were fewer people in some places but in exchange, there was more nature. In that sense, it became lonelier.
With Covid, fewer people are around in Shinjuku and it was then I thought, maybe as nature spreads a few hundred years from now this place will become less inhabited too.
Humans ask permission from god, develop new land and build their homes on it but what do they do when they leave? Nothing really. Souls leave and the scenery is left as it is. So that's where I thought, how would we bring closure to this? That's when I came up with Suzume's character.
This is reeeally sounding like Makoto Shinkai's going back to his original style. That melodrama. I actually kind of prefer that because not many go down that unpopular route.
Might also be worth noting "suzume" can also mean sparrow in Japanese.
[35:50] Q: Any romance?
A young man joins the story but I can't tell you much about that. Just that Suzume is inspired by him so maybe you could call it romance.
There are also various other kind of relations as the two travel. There are scenes where they play with children but there are other relations such as friendship. It'll be much broader than Your Name than just the bond between two characters.
Guess who the other "entity" is then, lol. Although it was kind of obvious it was going to be a male character.
[37:56] Q: You mention broader relations. Does that mean how relations affected by the current Covid situation was brought into the movie too?
I wasn't sure whether to do that or not such as making the characters wear masks but no, it's not part of the world setting.
It would be great if everyone could travel around the country and take in the scenery like in the story's road trip. Viewers can't do it now but hopefully when this movie premières, they can and they will be inspired to do that.
[39:27] Q: You mentioned there are many abandoned sites in the movie. Eastern Japan has some such disaster hit sites. Will they be in the story?
There will be doors opened that lead to such sites. As to where, it will be something to look forward to.
Well, was kind of expecting a teaser clip for some eye candy but good press conference. I liked how doors are the highlight of the movie and they all exited via the one in the promo art. Guess I was wrong about it being a story set by the sea since Shinkai's production screenshots were showing boats and fish sound effects.
Looking forward to watching the road trip Suzume goes on and how much time is spent per place. Also how this big highlight of encouraging people to finish up and have a closure on matters in life.