Action, Emotions, and Awe: A Review of Shinkai Makoto’s ‘Suzume’s Door Locking’

Along with a summary of two of Shinkai Makoto’s past works.


The final scene in ‘Your Name’ takes place on these stairs. (Photo Credit: J.L. Lacar / Unsplash)

東宝 東宝株式会社 (Toho Toho Company, LTD) This is one of the first things one sees at the beginning of any of Shinkai Makoto’s work as well as all Japanese animated film. The greenish-blue background flickering like the aurora before the screen turns black and the movie officially starts.

Makoto Niitsu (新津 誠, Niitsu Makoto, born February 9, 1973), more famously known as Makoto Shinkai (新海 誠, Shinkai Makoto) is a Japanese animator, filmmaker, author, and manga artist. He is most known for his movies like Your Name, Weathering With You, and his most recently, Suzume’s Door Locking.

Makoto Shinkai graduated from Chuo University in 1996 and worked at the video game company Falcom for five years. During this time, he met musician Tenmon, who later scored for many of his movies. In 1999, Shinkai released his first short film, She and Her Cat, which won awards. Inspired by this success, he created Voices of a Distant Star with the support of Manga Zoo. He left Falcom in 2001 to work on the film, which took around seven months to complete. Shinkai’s next projects included The Place Promised in Our Early Days (2004), 5 Centimeters per Second (2007), and Children Who Chase Lost Voices from Deep Below (2011).

In 2013, Shinkai released The Garden of Words, followed by Your Name in 2016, which became a critical and commercial success, becoming one of the highest-grossing films in Japan and worldwide. Weathering with You was released in 2019 and also received positive reviews. Shinkai’s most recent film, Suzume’s Door Locking, was released in November 2022.

Here is the logo of TOHO Animations which is on every Japanese animated film. (Photo Credit: Toho Company, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)

Note: Below are spoilers regarding About Your Name, Weathering With You, and Suzume’s Door Locking.

Plot Of Your Name (君の名は, Kimi No Na Wa)

“Every so often when I wake up in the morning I find myself crying. I can never remember the dream I was having, but the sensation that I’ve lost something lingers for a long time after I wake up. I’m always searching for something or someone. I think I know when this feeling possessed me, just one day comes to mind. That day, the day the stars came falling it was almost like… like a scene from a dream. Nothing more, nothing less than a beautiful view.” This is how the movie Your Name starts. Your Name is the first movie in Shinkai Makoto’s disaster series and features the voices of Ryunosuke Kamiki and Mone Kamishiraishi, with animation direction by Masashi Ando, character design by Masayoshi Tanaka, and its orchestral score and soundtrack composed by Radwimps. The movie was a big hit being the 3rd highest grossing Japanese film at $382,238,181.

Here are Makoto Shinkai and Nanoka Hara at Berlinale 2023. (Photo Credit: Elena Ternovaja, CC BY-SA 3.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons)

The movie takes place in 2013 where a girl named Mitsuha Miyamizu, a high school girl living in the rural town of Itomori, Japan, wishes to become a Tokyo boy in her next life. After this event, Mitsuha finds herself mystically switching bodies with a boy named Taki Tachibana, a high school student in Tokyo. After a few incidents that leave both of the parties in embarrassing situations, they decide to leave each other a report of their day in their phones. Mitsuha, her younger sister Yotsuha and their grandma Hitoha goes to a Shinto Shrine located on a mountain outside of their down to leave the ritual alcohol kuchikamizake (a type of sake made with rice and human saliva as a fermentation starter), and Hitoha mentions musubi, a term that means that everything is intertwined like a braided string, including time.

Mitsuha, during one of her body switches, helps Taki to get a date with his coworker, Miki, and leaves a note for the date including a note about the comet Tiamat, expected to pass nearest to Earth on the day of the autumn festival. At the autumn festival, Mitsuha then sees the comet splitting into two pieces and the screen switches to Taki trying to call Mitsuha and failing to do so, saying that he will tell her about the trainwreck of a date the next time they swap, but the swap never comes. Taki, not knowing where Mitsuha lived, but knowing how it looks, draws the town from memory, and decides to go on a trip looking for her. He is then joined by his coworker Miki and his friend Tsukasa.

Taki goes around the rural area showing people his sketches, with no one knowing the place until the trio goes to a ramen shop to eat, where the old waiter mentions how her husband, the ramen shop owner, was born there. Taki excitedly asks about the town, but the town had been hit by a part of the comet three years ago and no longer existed. When Tsukasa asks if he’s making a mistake, Taki hurriedly opens his phone to show the notes Mitsuha left behind, but finds them rapidly disappearing. Taki finds Mitsuha’s family name in the list of casualties of the aftermath. Hours later he seems to suddenly forget Mitsuha’s name, and when his coworker mentions a braided string which was a specialty from Itomori that he wore as a good luck charm, he is suddenly reminded of what Hitoha said about time and goes to the shinto shrine to look for the kuchikamizake.

Taki was able to find the kuchikamizake in the shrine, and after he drinks the sake, he slips and sees the comet drawing on the roof of the cave where the shrine was located. Taki back in Mitsuha’s body devises a plan to evacuate the town, but not being able to convince her father, the mayor, he decides to go back to the mountain where the shrine was located. There, at the mountain, during sunset, Taki and Mitsuha finally meet. It was Mitsuha who gave Taki the braided string three years prior to the body switch. Taki asks Mitsuha to write her name on his hand so as not to forget her name, but as the sun goes over the horizon, Mitsuha disappears ,and Taki then tries his best to remember her name, to no avail. The same thing happens to Mitsuha as she forgets Taki’s name. Then, she and her friend blow up the generator. She then leaves her friend in the school to send an evacuation message. The message was soon ended by the city hall, but Mitsuha successfully convinces her father, the town mayor, to evacuate everyone. We then see a shot of the comet crashing down onto the land.

Five years later, when Taki is job hunting and on the train, he hears the chime of a bell, and sees someone similar. In a cafe, he hears someone calling the name of Mitsuha’s friend, and while walking home, he walks by someone, where once again he hears the chime of a bell. We then see Taki on the train by the door, when another train comes next to him, and by the door of the other train was Mitsuha. Taki and Mitsuha both desperately try to find each other until they meet on the staircase where both of them ask each other “kimi no namae wa? (what is your name?)” and the movie ends.

Plot Of Weathering With You (天気の子, Tenshi No Ko)

Weathering with You is the second movie in the disaster series, featuring the voices of Kotaro Daigo as Hodaka Morishima and Nana Mori as Hina Amano, with animation direction by Atsushi Tamura, character design by Masayoshi Tanaka, and music composed by Radwimps. Weathering with You is also the 10th highest grossing Japanese film to date at $193,715,360. The film follows Hodaka Morishima, a first-year high school student who escapes from his troubled home on Kōzu-shima Island in June 2021 and seeks refuge in rainy Tokyo. During his journey, he encounters a rainstorm on a ferry and is saved by Keisuke Suga, with whom he later works at an occult magazine company investigating urban legends.

While in Tokyo, Hodaka meets Hina Amano, who shows kindness to him. As they navigate the rainy weather, Hodaka discovers an abandoned handgun and intervenes when Hina is coerced into working at a club, scaring off the owner. Hina leads Hodaka to Yoyogi Kaikan, an abandoned building with a shrine on the roof, where he discards the gun. To his surprise, Hina demonstrates her ability to clear the sky through prayer. Learning that Hina lives alone with her younger brother Nagi, Hodaka proposes a business idea to use her weather-controlling ability to provide sunshine for special events, which becomes successful.

However, their success is short-lived, as Hina’s powers are revealed on television, drawing unwanted attention. To make matters worse, Hodaka’s family reports him missing, leading to a police search. The police discover Hodaka’s connection to the gun through a security camera and question Hina, realizing that she and Nagi lack legal guardians. Facing separation, Hodaka, Hina, and Nagi attempt to flee, but they are halted by worsening weather and seek refuge in a hotel. There, Hina reveals that her body is gradually transforming into water due to her power, and also learns that bringing sunshine will cause her to disappear permanently. The following morning, Hina vanishes, and the rain ceases.

The police track Hodaka to the hotel, resulting in Nagi being sent to a counseling center and Hodaka taken into custody. Motivated by his love for Hina, Hodaka escapes with the help of Suga’s niece, Natsumi. Surrounded by the police, he makes a daring move, leaping through a shrine gate and ascending into the sky. In an otherworldly realm, Hodaka finds Hina and implores her to return with him, encouraging her to let go of her worries and embrace her own life. Together with Natsumi, Nagi, and Suga, they all return to the rooftop shrine and get arrested. The heavy rains resume, and Hodaka is sentenced to three years of probation, sent back to Kōzu-shima.

After three years, Tokyo remains submerged in continuous rainfall. Hodaka completes his probation, graduates from high school, and returns to Tokyo for college. He reconnects with Suga, who has expanded his business, and embarks on a quest to find Hina. Eventually, Hodaka discovers Hina praying on a street overlooking the drowned city. They reunite, and Hodaka assures Hina that they will overcome the challenges together, promising her a hopeful future.

Plot Of Suzume’s Door Locking (すずめの戸締まり, Suzume no Tojimari)

Suzume’s Door Locking is the latest addition to Shinkai Makoto’s disaster series, with the story written and directed by Shinkai Makoto. The film features the voices of Nanoka Hara and Hokuto Matsumura, with the character designs by Masayoshi Tanaka, animation director by Kenichi Tsuchiya, art direction by Takumi Tanji, and music by Radwimps and Kazuma Jinnouchi, making it Shinkai’s third collaboration with Radwimps and Tanaka, after Your Name (2016) and Weathering With You (2019). Suzume’s Door Locking is the 4th highest grossing Japanese film at 319,696,958 and is still rising to this day.

Suzume’s Door Locking starts with Suzume Iwato, a 17-year-old high school girl living with her aunt in Kyushu. One night, she dreams of searching for her mother in a ruined neighborhood as a child. The next morning, while heading to school, Suzume encounters a young man searching for abandoned areas with doors. She tells him about an old onsen resort nearby and follows him there. Suzume finds a door standing alone, showing a starlit field, but she can’t enter. She picks up a cat statue that transforms into a real cat and runs away. Frightened, she returns to school and notices a blaze-like column rising from the onsen site, which only she could see.

Returning to the resort, Suzume finds the man, Souta Munakata, trying to close the door. She helps him as they successfully close it, causing the red column to disappear and wreak invisible havoc on the town. Suzume takes Souta to her home to tend to his wound. He explains that he travels across Japan, closing doors in abandoned places to prevent a giant supernatural “worm” from causing earthquakes. The cat appears again, turning Souta into a chair, as Souta chases the cat Suzume follows them to a ferry headed for Ehime.

In Ehime, they follow clues on social media about the cat, known as “Daijin,” and its sightings. With the help of a local resident named Chika, they locate the worm and close its entry door at an abandoned school. Suzume discovers that Chika attended that school, and they stay at her home. The next day, they hitch a ride with a mother named Rumi to Kobe. Rumi asks Suzume to babysit her twin toddlers and help at her bar. At the bar, they spot Daijin, and the worm reemerges at an abandoned amusement park. Suzume and Souta chase the cat to an old abandoned amusement park and Souta demands Daijin to become a keystone again, but the cat refuses. While closing the door, Suzume sees the starlit field and her childhood self with an unknown figure in the distance. Souta saves Suzume from falling and closes the portal, explaining that it leads to the Ever-After.

They spend the night at Rumi’s bar, and it is revealed that Souta is losing his sense of self in his chair form. They track Daijin to Tokyo, and Souta in his room shares the myth of the worm Namazu and the need for two keystones in eastern and western Japan. During this explanation of the keystones, Daijin appears once more and a worm the size of the city appears threatening to destroy the entire city. Daijin then reveals that he passed on his keystone function to Souta’s chair form and that if Suzume doesn’t seal the worm using Souta many people will die. Suzume seals away Souta as a keystone and falls into a water cave housing Tokyo’s doorway to the Ever-After. She peers into it and finds Souta at the top but when she tries to enter finds herself phasing through to the other side. Daijin approaches her excitedly, offering to be her cat, but Suzume angrily rejects him and drops him into the water.

Suzume visits Souta’s grandfather at the hospital, who explains that her ability to see the worm and the Ever-After means she entered it once before. He tells her that the doorway she first used is where she can reenter the Ever-After and save Souta.

With her Aunt Tamaki’s help, Suzume travels to her childhood hometown in Tōhoku, which was destroyed in the 2011 earthquake and tsunami. Along the way, they meet Tomoya Serizawa, Souta’s friend from university. At a rest stop, Suzume realizes that Tamaki is possessed by Sadaijin, the eastern keystone. Tamaki takes Suzume to the ruins of their old house, and Suzume finds the door she used as a child. She enters with Daijin and Sadaijin, arriving in the Ever-After resembling her town after the disaster. While Sadaijin distracts the worm by fighting it, Suzume runs to where Souta was sealed as a chair, and after giving him a kiss which awakened him, Daijin takes Souta’s place and becomes the keystone once more.

Souta notices a child in the Ever-After which was Suzume from twelve years ago. Suzume gives her younger self the childhood chair and tells her about the future. Young Suzume exits the Ever-After with the chair, leading to her discovery by Tamaki. Suzume and Souta leave the Ever-After, with Souta returning to Tokyo and Suzume and Tamaki going back to Kyushu, visiting the friends they made along the way.

Some time later, while on her way to school in Kyushu, Suzume runs into Souta, walking up the same road where they first met.

Review of Suzume’s Door Locking (すずめの戸締まり, Suzume No Tojimari)

Suzume’s Door Locking is a beautiful movie that includes many beautiful visuals as well as the impressive music and voice acting that captures your emotions. Like the rest of Shinkai Makoto’s work, Suzume’s Door Locking is a rollercoaster of emotions as we get to see the sad fate of Souta becoming a chair and the possession of Suzume’s aunt Tamaki that tells Suzume all of Suzume’s worries that she has causes aunt Tamaki to lose her youth due to aunt Tamaki having to take care of a child.

The movie leads to a heart-racing action scene as Sadaijin protects Suzume and Daijin as they run towards Souta. Where Souta was sealed we see Daijin the cat/keystone who desperately wanted to be Suzume’s cat and be loved, sacrificing itself to save Souta and turning into the keystone where he is then promptly sealed. The ending scene where Suzume talks to her younger self as Suzume as a child holding back tears asks where her mother is and how lonely she is. Suzume then tells her younger self about all of the hardships and gives her the chair that her mother has made her so many years prior. The ending scene mirrors the beginning of the movie with the beautiful soundtrack leading into the end credits.

The art of every scene was so well drawn and brought the full force of the movie with every scene so carefully drawn in great detail. There was one detail that surprised me about the movie, the voice actors for both Suzume and Souta have never voice acted before making this stellar performance even more impressive. The soundtrack was also nothing to scoff at, with this being the third collaboration with RADWIMPS. The beautiful soundtracks played in the crucial scenes, and the ending was the icing on the cake. Suzume’s Door Locking is a wild ride of action, emotions, and awe. Overall it was one of the best movies I have watched and I would rate it 9.7/10.

Suzume’s Door Locking is a wild ride of action, emotions, and awe.