Fans of anime writer-director Matoko Shinkai may notice periodic nods to Studio Ghibli’s movies in his newest work — and they’re very much intentional. But those references aren’t just homages to Japan’s most famous animation studio: They serve a very specific purpose.
Unlike Shinkai’s previous two movies, Your Name and Weathering with You, his latest, Suzume, focuses on the impact of a real-life disaster: the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami. These films’ little nods to Studio Ghibli — cultural touchpoints viewers are likely to recognize — specifically root the world of Suzume closer to our reality, before the movie’s ties to the 2011 disaster are fully revealed.
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