Japanese director Makoto Shinkai of the latest adventure animation film “Suzume,” which references the 2011 Tohoku earthquake that took nearly 20,000 lives and left much devastation, said the key motif of a magical door that a protagonist tries to close to stop the disaster was inspired by the 2016 hit South Korean drama “Guardian: The Lonely and Great God.”
“When I watched ‘Guardian,’ it was impressive that the characters use a concept of door to move around the time and location and it became a key motif for me (to include in this project),” Shinkai told reporters at a press conference held at Megabox Seongsu on Wednesday.
“Suzume” revolves around a 17-year-old girl’s quest to stop an apocalypse triggered by the opening of magical doors all over Japan.
“A door symbolizes people’s everyday lives, because opening and closing a door is part of everyone’s mundane life. Repeating that action happens in our lives everyday – and what stops such everyday life is a disaster, so I thought a door would be a good motif in terms of the storyline,” he said.
The film is Shinkai’s third film in the series after “Your Name” (2017) and “Weathering with You” (2019), which both center around natural catastrophes like earthquakes and climate-related disasters.
As one of Japan’s most commercially successful animators, Shinkai has become the highest-earning director of all time worldwide with his 2016 smash hit “Your Name.” “Suzume,” which opened last year in Japan, became the third-biggest box office title, recording more than 10 million admissions.
“Suzume” was also the first Japanese animated feature to screen at the Berlin International Film Festival since Hayao Miyazaki’s “Spirited Away” in 2002.
Actor Nanoka Hara, who was selected to voice the protagonist Suzume Iwato among 1,700 candidates, also attended the press conference.
“Although I knew nothing about dubbing and was worried about it, director Shinkai supported me and cheered me on, saying that I was doing well. After repeatedly hearing that, I was able to show better work,” Hara told reporters.
“Suzume” hits local theaters on March 8.