‘Suzume’ (2023) Ending, Explained: Are Suzume And Souta Able To Save Tokyo?

Makoto Shinkai’s latest joins his growing list of blockbuster films taking the world by storm. His work “Your Name” was an anime film that everyone who didn’t care for anime watched too. “Suzume” hits the screen at a time when anime is more widely accepted and loved, and its message is meaningful in a fantastical film about the strength of connections. Read our full review here. What is the underlying message of “Suzume”?

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Spoilers Ahead


‘Suzume’ Plot Synopsis: What Happens In The Film?

Suzume is a high schooler on the island of Kyushu. On a normal day, while Suzume is headed to school, she happens upon a young man, probably a few years older than her, in the streets, who she can’t take her eyes off. The young man asks her for directions to any site of ruins in her town. Suzume points him to a place in the mountains that she can imagine is the only “ruins” in her area. The young man thanks her and heads there. Suzume, who heads to school, realizes that she may have misdirected the man, or perhaps she wanted to see the ruins herself and follows him there. When she arrives there, she is struck by the beauty and vastness of the empty debris. To her surprise, the man isn’t there, but she comes across a door in the middle of seemingly nowhere.

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Suzume opens the door and sees an incredible vista of stars and purple skies. When she steps through the door, though, she reaches the other empty side. She’s confused and gives up after a few tries at crossing. She accidentally stumbles upon a stone that resembles a cat and pulls it out of the ground. In an instance, the stone turns into a real cat and jumps out of Suzume’s shocked hands. Suzume finds the place a little eerie, and without the young man in sight, she decides to head back to school. From a window in school, Suzume sees what looks like smoke coming out of the mountains. To her surprise, her friends can’t see this massive, black, smokey column that she can.

The kids all get an earthquake warning, and Suzume sees the thing rising in the mountain. She rushes to the ruin site, where she suspects this “smoke” is coming from that nobody else can see. When she arrives there, the young man is trying to shut the door with all his might, and this thing that she is able to see is swarming out of the door and growing by the second. The man tells Suzume to run away, but instead, she chooses to help him shut the door. Finally, they are able to close the door, and the man recites some words like a prayer before shutting the door completely and locking it with a key. Unfortunately, before they are able to shut the door, the “worm” (the thing that Suzume is able to see coming out of the door) falls to the earth, causing an earthquake. This is where Suzume’s intense journey to close doors and travel through Japan begins.

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On her long journey to save Japan from disasters, Suzume meets a few very helpful people. She finds an understanding and extremely selfless friend in a young girl named Chika and a single mother of two kids from whom Suzume learns the art of patience and hard work. She has to babysit the two kids and simultaneously work tirelessly at the bar to help the single mom. All of these people are kind and worried for Suzume. Every step of the way is a learning curve, and Suzume gets more courageous to shut the doors that open in each small town she passes.


Suzume’s Childhood

Suzume lost her mother in the 2011 earthquake at the age of 4, and at such a young age, she couldn’t process the loss of her mother. Her aunt then adopted her, and raising Suzume occupied her prime years. Suzume always felt a little bit constricted under her aunt’s worried gaze. Her aunt, too, felt like she couldn’t live her own life without worrying about Suzume all the time. She felt lonely and stressed all the time. Suzume is an obedient girl, but she never got over the loss of her mother. The grief weighed down on her, and so she might’ve found it hard to get through to her aunt and vice versa. Now, as a teenager, when Suzume is going across the country to save it, her aunt assumes the role of a worried parent with a runaway child. When Tamaki, the aunt, finally came to understand what Suzume was doing, finding her way to her old home after 12 years, she was okay with everything that she had been through so that Suzume could get the closure she required.

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Who Is Souta?

Souta is the pretty boy who mesmerizes Suzume and changes her life forever. Souta is what they call a “closer,” His job is to close the doors and save Japan before the “worm” falls and breaks the earth. Souta is studying to become a teacher, and while his job is to close the doors, he has his own goals and finds his own way in the world. When Suzume removed the stone from the ground, she unleashed the deity Daijin, who was holding the worm down. Daijin, who is a little cat, wanted to spend time with kind Suzume and live outside of the “Ever-After” realm as a real cat, so the cat cursed Souta to be Suzume’s childhood three-legged chair. Now, a talking chair walking around across Japan would be very attention-grabbing, so Suzume decides to save the day and embark on the action-packed adventure with Souta, following Daijin and bringing Souta back to his human form.


Daijin And Sadaijin

The guardian deities, who take the form of cats, are on two sides of Japan: Daijin in Kyushu and Sadaijin in the capital city of Tokyo. The two cats are like the pillars that block the worm from getting out of the underground and causing havoc in Japan. When Daijin reaches Tokyo, where it has been guiding Suzume the whole time, Sadaijin shows up for their last mission. Because Daijin wanted to be in the real world with Suzume, it gave Souta the curse to become the guardian stone. When the worm is unleashed in its fullest form, Souta decides to sacrifice himself, and Suzume has to give up on her love for him. Suzume begins to harbor a grudge against Daijin, making Daijin devastated. The whole reason Daijin wanted to be in the real world was for Suzume’s sake, but now Suzume doesn’t love Daijin anymore.


‘Suzume’ Ending Explained: What Does Suzume Do To Bring Souta Back?

After Souta’s huge sacrifice, Suzume finds his grandfather and asks him what she can do to save Souta. Souta’s grandfather believes this is his destiny, so Suzume should let it be, but Suzume is determined to go to “Ever-After” and save Souta because he deserves to live on and do the things he had planned for himself. With the help of Serizawa (Souta’s university friend) and her aunt Tamaki, Suzumi begins a road trip to her first home, where 12 years ago, she lost her mother. There is only one door that she can use to cross into the land of the souls, and that is the one she went through while searching for her mother. Because little Suzume had wandered off into the “ever-after,” she was able to see the worms and help Souta. Suzume realizes that the whole time Daijin has been guiding her to this particular door, Suzume enters the door and finds Souta. She begins to remove the chair from the ice, which it is frozen stuck to. Daijin wonders who will contain the worm if Souta is removed, and Suzume confesses that she will take his place. Daijin is overwhelmed by Suzume’s sacrifice and fearlessness, so the deity decides to take back its position as the keystone.

While Suzume was angry with Daijin at first, she became terribly sad for losing him even though Souta came back to her. Suzume and Souta then have to put the keystones back into their positions to contain the worm. After the worm is contained and the day is saved, Suzume finds her four-year-old self wandering the “Ever-After.” Suzume realizes that all those years ago, the woman she thought was her mother was, in fact, herself. At this point, she is the only one who can save herself. Suzume takes the three-legged chair to her younger self and comforts her with her mother’s memory. That’s why the three-legged chair that her mother had worked to make for Suzume became a symbol of her mother’s memory.

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Finally, Suzume comes out of the door with closure from the grief of losing her mother and a new love—Souta. Souta and Suzume part ways and Souta promises to come back for her later. Suzume and her aunt reconcile properly, and Suzume takes her to meet all the friends she made on her way. The reason Souta and Suzume are able to close the doors is because they remember everyone who lived in those abandoned places. It is the people that make a place alive, and with the memory of the life of the abandoned place, they are able to save the place. Metaphorically, Shinkai shows us that even if the place is abandoned, the memory of the people never dies. Those who remember will always remember.


Ruchika Bhat
Ruchika Bhat
Ruchika, or "Ru," is a fashion designer and stylist by day and a serial binge-watcher by night. She dabbles in writing when she has the chance and loves to entertain herself with reading, K-pop dancing, and the occasional hangout with friends.

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