In this article, we will discuss and analyze the plot and spoilers of Suzume along with the messages hidden in the anime by Daijin and mythology.
Please be cautious as this article contains spoilers for the movie!
Synopsis of Suzume
In a quiet port town in Kyushu, 17-year-old high school student Suzume Iwato, who lives with her aunt, encounters a long-haired and beautiful young man named Sota Munakata during her commute to school one day.
Following Munakata, who claims to be a “door closer,” Suzume discovers a white door left behind in ruins. Beyond the door is a sky that seems to have merged with “all the time.”
However, as disasters come from the other side of the door, the door must be closed. Suzume embarks on a journey with Munakata to help him with his “door closing” ability, which has been turned into a chair.
Here, we will provide explanations for Suzume’s journey in each region. Please read through it again, focusing on the parts you didn’t fully understand.
In Miyazaki Prefecture
Suzume, a high school girl, meets a mysterious and beautiful young man named Souta Munakata. She becomes curious about the young man who heads towards a ruin, and follows him to find a door standing in the courtyard of an abandoned hotel.
When she opens the door, she sees a sky where all time seems to mix together. It is a world of the Ever-After where the dead go, a landscape that Suzume has seen in her dreams many times. The “stone” that was stuck in front of the door turns into a cat and escapes. However, that stone was suppressing the “worms,” the cause of earthquakes.
In order to stop the earthquake, Suzume needs to pierce the stone again. But the cat, who was originally the stone called “Daijin,” locks Souta’s soul in a chair, who is a closeseat, and escapes on a boat.
In Ehime Prefecture
Suzume and the chair possessed by Souta chase after Daijin and arrive at Yahata Port in the west of Ehime Prefecture by boat. Daijin becomes popular on social media for looking like an old minister with white whiskers, and Suzume and the others follow his footsteps.
On the way, Suzume becomes friends with Chika, a high school girl of the same age, and they are able to stay at her inn. But here, too, a door is open. Following the dark red smoke, they go deep into the mountains and find worms spewing out from the entrance of a ruined school. On behalf of Souta who has taken the form of a chair, Suzume inserts the key into the back door and closes it.
Afterwards, Suzume and the others spot Daijin walking on the Akashi Kaikyo Bridge on TV and decide to head toward Kobe where he is believed to be.
In Hyogo Prefecture
The Snack Mama and the Cheerful Children As Suzume hitchhikes, a woman named Rumi-san gives her a ride in her car on her way back from Matsuyama to Kobe.
Rumi-san runs a snack bar, and Suzume and Souta help take care of her children. While assisting at the snack bar in the evening, they discover a Daijin (a mysterious creature) in the shop. Daijin escapes, so they follow it outside and once again find a worm (another type of mysterious creature).
The worm leads them to a closed amusement park’s Ferris wheel. Suzume and her friends struggle with the Ferris wheel, but eventually manage to close the back door and succeed.
Suzume learns about the next location of Daijin on social media and bids farewell to Rumi-san before setting off again. This time, she takes a Shinkansen (bullet train) from Shin-Kobe Station to Tokyo.
On LINE(a Japanese Messanger App), Suzume has accumulated 55 messages from her aunt and stepmother, Tamaki-san.
As they head towards Souta’s house, an earthquake warning sounds, and a giant worm appears from the train tunnel of the Kanda River.
Confronted by the enormous worm, Souta realizes that he no longer needs Daijin. He tries to use Daijin, but Daijin declares that he is “no longer a rock.”
Souta, whose consciousness has gradually been decreasing since he turned into a chair, realizes that he was destined to become a rock. When he was transformed into a chair, he also inherited the role of being a rock.
Suzume is unable to accept this and is bewildered, but in order to stop a massive earthquake from occurring, she reluctantly stabs Souta, who has become a rock, with a needle.
The earthquake stops, but Suzume is left alone. She visits Souta’s grandfather and decides to enter the Ever-After through the only door she can pass through, in order to bring Souta back with her.
The door Suzume can pass through is located near her childhood home, where she once got lost as a child. She decides to head from Tokyo to Iwate in Tomoya Serizawa’s beat-up car, who is Souta’s friend.
Surprisingly, Suzume’s overprotective foster mother, Tamaki, catches up with them, along with two cats named Daijin and Sadaijin (!), and they set off on their journey again.
Suzume and Tamaki finally confront each other honestly and end up having a fight, but in the end, Tamaki replaces her broken-down car with a bicycle and accompanies Suzume to her childhood home. There, Suzume finds her childhood diary along with memories of the disaster, and remembers the location of the only door she can enter.
In the Ever-After
Suzume, along with Daijin and Sadaijin, finally found the door and entered the Ever-After. The Ever-After seemed to change its appearance depending on the viewer, but to Suzume’s eyes, it looked like a city of tsunami debris and burning buildings.
They found a small yellow chair within it, and with the combined effort of Daijin and Sadaijin, they pulled it out, returning Souta to his original form. With Souta and Suzume using the now-recovered Daijin and Sadaijin as anchors, they were able to calm the Mimiworms.
As they looked up, they saw their younger selves beyond the Ever-After. Suzume, now grown up, handed her younger self the memento chair. She encouraged her younger self who was feeling down, saying, “Suzume will grow up properly.” Then, the two of them returned from the Ever-After to the mortal world.
After locking the door behind them, Suzume returned to Tamaki and the others, saying, “I’ll be back.”
Suzume hugged Souta tightly and bid him farewell, saying, “I will definitely come to see you,” on the platform of the train station. Then, along with Tamaki, she returned to Miyazaki, visiting the people who had helped them.
When winter came, Souta came to see Suzume at her place, where she was living her usual life.
Meaning and Foreshadowing in the Last Scene
Meeting the “Past” in the End
In the final scene, Suzume meets her past self. The meeting between past and present Suzume took place in a space similar to the twilight time in Your Name, where time melted together. It was Suzume herself who saved her younger self who was crying out in distress.
There were many clues leading up to this ending. The first is dreams. In the dreams Suzume had at the beginning, there were hidden clues like rubble, mud, sky and a white dress (long shirt).
The second is her encounter with Souta. Suzume felt that they had met before when she first met Souta. She was drawn to Souta because she somehow knew that he held the key to her salvation.
There were also many other foreshadowing clues scattered throughout the story, such as Suzume only being able to see worms, Tamaki not being her real mother, and the chair only having 3 legs.
Why Did Suzume Say “I’ll be back”
Why did Suzume say “I’ll be back” after locking the back door when she left the Ever-After? It was to show that Suzume had finally sorted out her feelings for her hometown and her mother and was able to take a step forward toward “tomorrow”.
Even after becoming a high school student, Suzume continued to search for her mother. Although she seemed to be living a normal life, every night she would search for her mother in her dreams and cry.
When Suzume first found the back door and the Kobe Ferris Wheel, she sought her mother’s presence behind the door and tried to enter.
However, by mourning the disaster area, calming the land and letting go of the chair her mother had given her, Suzume was finally able to leave the disaster area. She was able to truly leave her hometown of Iwate.
“I’ll be back” was chosen as a phrase to symbolize Suzume’s new beginning, breaking free from the past that had held her back.
Is Dajin Unsaved
Unlike the saved sparrows, there are also those who choose to sacrifice themselves at the end. Dajin is one of them, having been stung by a Mimi worm as a guardian stone.
Dajin was probably originally a human, but at some point he was burdened with the role of the Guardian Stone. So when the sparrows freed him from his role, he wanted to become “Suzume’s child” and be close to them.
However, when he saw the sparrows mourning the loss of Kusuta and was persuaded by Sadajin, Dajin changed his mind. He decided to take on the role of Guardian Stone once again.
It is likely that Dajin will continue to keep the Mimi worms at bay as the Guardian Stone in the Ever-After. And as Kusuta’s grandfather mentioned, he will become a being that “houses a god”.
Kusuta’s grandfather said it was an “honourable thing”, but perhaps the irony of the world being sustained by sacrifice, as depicted in the film “Weathering with You”, was subtly portrayed through Dajin’s story.
What are the meanings and origins of mythological motifs?
|The Ever After||– World of the deceased|
– A place where all time exists simultaneously
– Reflects each person’s traumas and changes its appearance
|Words of Blessing||– Words necessary for closing doors|
– Means “returning the land to the local deity”
|Keystone||– Two spiritual stones that bind the earthworms|
– Carried by Dainjin and Sadainjin
– Are they alternately carried by humans (Closers)?
|Worm||– The cause of earthquakes|
– The power that moves beneath the Japanese archipelago
– No will or purpose
– Swell by absorbing golden threads of earth energy
|Back Door||– Door that connects The Ever After and the human world|
– Opens in abandoned lands
– Only one person can enter at a time
|Two Butterflies||– Appear in the beginning of the story in the human world|
– Also appear in the final scene in The Ever After
– Existence that connects the past and the future?
|Suzume and Sota|
(Amaterasu and Munakata Three Female Gods)
|– Those who opened the door and helped with Amaterasu’s nation-building|
– Support the Emperor’s country from the shadows
The Ever After
In this work, the Ever After refers to the world on the other side of the back door. It is described as “a place where all time exists simultaneously” and “a place where the dead go”.
In mythology, Tokoyo is also referred to as “Tokoyo” or “Kakuriyo”, and appears in terms used in the “Kojiki” and “Nihon Shoki” (two of the oldest Japanese historical texts), and the “Manyoshu” (a collection of Japanese poetry from the 8th century). It is considered a realm of the afterlife where the dead go, an ideal paradise of eternal youth and immortality where gods and sages reside, and an important place in Japanese mythology and ancient Shinto.
Why is it burning?
It is said that the Ever After changes its appearance depending on the viewer, but in the Ever After that Suzume entered, the debris of the town was burning.
In fact, during the time of the Great East Japan Earthquake, nearly 300 fires broke out. In Suzume’s young eyes, the hometown swallowed by fire must have been seared into her memory.
Perhaps the Ever After was burning as a representation of the landscape frozen in the moment when Suzume’s time came to a standstill, and as a symbol of the past she must face now.
Words of Blessing
A sacred chant recited when closing the back door. By reciting the sacred chant while reflecting on the hearts and lives of those who have disappeared, a keyhole can be made to appear on the back door.
Originally, a sacred chant is a word of reverence and prayer for divine protection in Shinto rituals.
The detailed contents are as shown in the table above, but roughly speaking, it means returning the land to its original owner, the local deity (the deity of that land).
The “keystone” is a pair of stones that are said to seal the head and tail of a worm, and they are located in eastern and western Japan respectively. One of them was said to be located in Miyazaki, where Suzume lives, and the other was said to be deep underground in the Imperial Palace, but they have both escaped and taken on the forms of Dainjin and Sadainjin, respectively.
Sadainjin seems to have been acquainted with Souta’s grandfather, suggesting that both of them were originally humans.
The original concept of the keystone comes from sacred stones found in the grounds of various shrines in Japan. These stones are famous and are also mentioned in the “Nihon Shoki” (The Chronicles of Japan). They are objects of faith that are mostly buried underground and are believed to calm the earthquakes caused by the worm.
The keystone at Kashima Shrine in Ibaraki Prefecture, which is believed to be the model for the current story, is interpreted as holding the head of the worm, while the keystone at Katori Shrine in Chiba Prefecture is interpreted as holding the tail.
In the story, according to Souta, the worm is described as “a huge force that wriggles beneath the Japanese archipelago.” It has no specific purpose or will, but if enough distortion accumulates, it will rampage and cause disasters.
The direct inspiration for the worm is Murakami Haruki’s short story “Kaeru-kun, Tokyo o Sukuu” (Mr. Frog, Saving Tokyo). In this story, the worm also appears as an earthquake.
However, in Japan, it has been a legend since ancient times that earthquakes occur when a legendary giant catfish (namazu) goes on a rampage.
Since there were frequent occurrences of abnormal behavior by catfish just before a major earthquake, people in the past imagined that the catfish living deep underground was the cause of earthquakes. Since the catfish resembles a worm in appearance, it is possible that the example of the keystone at Kashima Shrine was also influenced by the catfish.
In the story, it is the back door that connects the present world with the otherworldly realm of Tokoyo. It is located in a deserted area and is associated with disaster, as the emergence of the giant worm from the door causes disasters such as earthquakes.
In Buddhism, the back door refers to the door at the back of a Buddhist hall. It is believed that demons come out of the back door, and in front of the door are guardian deities of Buddhist teachings and Buddhist practitioners, as well as statues of deities such as Shakyamuni Buddha.
The Deity of the Back Door is also associated with classical Noh theatre, and it is said that Noh performances are dedicated to the Deity of the Back Door during the New Year’s Noh performance.
The two butterflies that flew near Suzume when she awoke from her dream at the beginning of the story are also seen flying near Suzume and her friends in the Ever After at the end of the story.
There are various interpretations of these butterflies, and one theory is that they are connected to Suzume’s consciousness in the Ever After. If this rumour is true, then the butterflies at the beginning of the story could be the future Suzume, who has completed her journey and comes to announce the beginning of the adventure, hinting at a possible time loop.
Butterflies are also creatures that appear in the ancient story “Dream of the Butterfly”, where dreams and reality are mixed. They are portrayed as beings connected to the world of Ever After, where all time is intertwined, so it wouldn’t be surprising if they had a mysterious connection.
Suzume and Sota
The model for the main character, Suzume Iwato, is believed to be the goddess of performing arts, Amenouzume, who opened the heavenly rock cave where Amaterasu, the sun goddess, had secluded herself.
On the other hand, it is speculated that the model for Souta Munakata is the god Susano-o, who created the three goddesses of Munakata.
Two Messages of Suzume
Closing the Door on Trauma
Suzume had been avoiding facing her memories of the disaster and her mother for 12 years by painting them black in her mind. Even though she would often dream about them, she lived hiding her tears.
However, when Suzume embarks on a journey with the chair, she begins to reflect on her memories with her mother. In the end, she also confronts her memories of the disaster in order to save Souta.
The disaster area was still burning in Suzume’s heart. But through her battles with Souta, she succeeds in extinguishing the flames of her trauma. The battle in the eternal world was a metaphor for Suzume’s “battle with her trauma.”
In the final scene, despite the sparrow looking forward, many may have felt a sense of unease, or that the problems have not been fundamentally resolved.
Daijin has become a rock, and Souta continues to close doors. After all, it seems pointless for a door-closer to go around closing doors all over Japan… Moreover, earthquakes continue to occur, which may be due to the fact that the work of the door-closers has not kept pace. For a director known for his meticulous calculations when making films, why is the ending not tightly closed?
First, let’s understand why the back door opens. The film mentions that “the thoughts of men quiet the land”, but it is not only in uninhabited areas that doors open. Doors open even in the heart of Tokyo.
The back door opens not because there are not enough people but because “distortion” is accumulating. The film does not clearly explain what “distortion” is, but it can be better understood by linking it to the myth of the Descent of the Celestial Grandchild explained earlier.
Japan is a country where the Emperor built the nation on the birthplace, so the distortion accumulates in the land due to the pressure of the people. It can be speculated that the hidden background of this story is that the Doorkeepers are somehow supporting and stabilising this situation behind the scenes.
A human society that exists at the cost of sacrifice
If this terrifying backstory is true, then the Distortion may still be accumulating in Japan. Even if Daijin and Souta desperately try to calm the worms by sacrificing their lives, the distortion will continue to accumulate, and eventually the worms will come out.
In that case, perhaps it is not the afterlife that should be closed, but us in the present world. “Closing the Sparrow’s Door” may indeed be a frightening work, with sarcasm and despair about human society as its underlying theme.
Let’s examine the message of the movie Suzume
Suzume consistently portrays natural disasters as a theme, following in the footsteps of Your Name. This work, rumored to be the culmination and masterpiece of director Makoto Shinkai, evokes the “Great East Japan Earthquake” at its core. The visuals and music are more powerful than ever before.
What realization does Suzume come to at the end of her journey of closing doors? Please see for yourself with your own eyes.