Makoto Shinkai's ‘Suzume’ was originally intended as lesbian romance but… - Hindustan Times
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Makoto Shinkai reveals the original plan for lesbian romance in 'Suzume' but had to pivot to a chair to please producers

Apr 26, 2023 09:00 PM IST

Japanese director Makoto Shinkai shocked fans by revealing "Suzume" was supposed to be a lesbian romance. Producers demanded a male lead instead.

Fans are stunned by the latest bombshell from celebrated Japanese filmmaker and director, Makoto Shinkai! In an exclusive interview with Looper, Shinkai revealed that his recent anime masterpiece "Suzume" was originally intended to feature a romance between two women.

In an exclusive interview with Looper, Shinkai revealed that his recent anime masterpiece "Suzume" was originally intended to feature a romance between two women.(Makoto Shinkai)
In an exclusive interview with Looper, Shinkai revealed that his recent anime masterpiece "Suzume" was originally intended to feature a romance between two women.(Makoto Shinkai)

Frustrated with the limitations of traditional romance tropes, Shinkai was eager to explore uncharted territory and believed that a lesbian romance would offer a fresh perspective for audiences tired of the same old "boy meets girl" stories.

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However, the producers insisted that a male romantic lead was necessary to attract a wider audience. This led Shinkai to pivot and make the male love interest in the story a chair, a decision that has raised eyebrows among fans and critics.

“Personally, because I’ve done that so many times, I pivoted. I wanted to pivot to a more sisterhood type of romantic story, but I had to change that because my producer said, ‘You may be tired of these romantic stories, but your audience loves it.’ So in order to not make it too much of a romance, I decided to make her primary interest a chair.”

While some fans and critics have praised Shinkai for trying to explore new themes and characters, others have criticized the decision to make a chair the love interest, calling it absurd and ridiculous.

Shinkai, however, defended his decision, saying that the story focuses on Suzume and that it would work regardless of her gender. He added that he wants to focus on the human story rather than gender or sex in his future films.

In terms of the LGBTQ commentary, it’s not something that I’m actively trying to write or not write or [is] a conscious decision. But with this film, Suzume as the main character, it works. But I think it would also work had she been a boy or had she been non-binary. It’s not necessarily the context of male/female; it’s about a human overcoming something. In my future films as well, I want to focus on that human story as opposed to too much commentary on gender or sex.

Shinkai’s previous film, “Your Name,” was a massive success and is considered a modern classic. Some critics have pointed out that the film can be seen as a gender-positive movie as it features a gender swap, but Shinkai has denied that it was his intention to make a statement on gender issues.

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