As far as family entertainment goes anime is rarely high on the agenda, especially given the numerous offerings from Disney, Dreamworks, and other such movie studios. Generally their features appeal to children and adults alike, and in order to compete with them Japanese animation studios have had to shake off their habitual approach and focus on making films that are more accessible to Western markets. The undisputed king of this is Miyazaki Hayao, however there have been several challengers to his throne, the latest being Hosoda Mamoru.
Now those of you who have watched the latest anime incarnation of Toki wo Kakeru Shoujo (The Girl who
Leapt Through Time), will be familiar with Hosoda's work as a director, and as good as that movie is, his latest effort, Summer Wars, would have been at least equal to it except for one thing.
It's been done before.
The story follows the brief summer "holiday" of a high school maths prodigy called Koiso Kenji as he travels to the countryside with his senpai (and secret crush), Shinohara Natsuki, ostensibly to celebrate her grandmother's 90th birthday. During his stay he receives a strange e-mail containing a sequence of numbers, and thinking it simply another maths problem, he solves it and sends it back. The following day all hell breaks loose (but in a quaint manner, this is rural Japan after all).
Summer Wars has a lot to recommend it in terms of its plot and story. The pacing and progression is very good, and the numerous events that take place are justifiable to a certain degree. It's just unfortunate that while watching Summer Wars, I couldn't help but think of a certain 1983 movie called War Games.
If one disregards the settings in the real and virtual worlds for a moment, then what's left, ironically enough, is a high school kid who unwittingly begins the end of the world through something nuclear, and all because he broke a code. It's even more ironic that the computer in War Games was developed from a simple Tic-Tac-Toe playing AI, and that it believes it is simply playing another "game" (if you can call global thermo-nuclear war a game that is).
Even with the parallels between the two films, Summer Wars is a good enough story in its own right, and like War Games, is very much a movie of its time. The use of online social networking is something that only a few shows have touched upon, and even though the application of it is somewhat unbelievable (everything from traffic management to emergency services is part of the OZ network), it's a purposeful device that makes the story much more relevant to this day and age, and it doesn't really impinge on one's enjoyment of the movie.
Summer Wars is distinctive in its looks, regardless of which world is on screen at the time. The settings, backgrounds and characters are very similar to those used in Toki wo Kakeru Shoujo, but there is far more creativity and diversity in the design of this movie, an example of which is skin tone, with several characters being tanned to various degrees. Alongside this is the look of the characters themselves, and it's truly nice to watch a show that takes a more realistic approach in this area. The people in the movie literally do come in all shapes and sizes, with no two characters (in the real world), sharing anything more than the resemblance that close relatives would have.
The one aspect of the design that is surprising is that of the virtual world, but not in the way that most people would think. The CG used in the movie is extremely well handled, and each avatar is completely unique, yet also reflective its real world user. That said, those who have seen another of Hosoda's directorial works, Superflat Monogram, may experience some bemusement as the design of Summer War's virtual world has been adapted from that featurette. While the art and animation are very good throughout the movie, it would have been nice if Madhouse had avoided cutting corners by using things that have been done before, but that's just a personal preference. As far as the virtual world goes, the majority of viewers will find it inventive, original, and more than a little amusing at times.
A big plus for the movie is its cast, and although most are relatively unknown (including the two leads), this doesn't preclude them from providing some very good performances. Kamiki Ryonosuke is very good as the bumbling, introverted and ever so slightly love-struck Kenji, while Sakuraba Nanami provides an excellent balance to this as the spirited and precocious Natsuki. One of the biggest surprises in terms of acting though, is Tanimura Mitsuki, whose portrayal of Kazuma has all the foibles and gripes one would expect from a 13 year old with a game addiction.
In terms of music, the various pieces on offer serve the movie very well, and Matsumoto Akihiko (who also provided the music for Resident Evil Outbreak: Files 1 & 2), really shows his talent as both a writer and composer. Strangely, the ending theme, Bokura no Natsu no Yume, is the only track composed by someone else (in this case by Yamashita Tatsuro), and is actually a rather appropriate lilting ballad that rounds things of nicely.
So where are the problems with the sound? In truth, the majority of issues stem from the effects as there are several notable occasions where the music, speech and effects clash quite badly. The majority of the movie is relatively well choreographed so that the noise is kept to a manageable level, but this is not always the case, and when events get out of hand, the effect on one's ears can be a little tough.
The one area where Summer Wars really excels is in its wealth of characters. While most of the focus is on Kenji, a good amount of time is spent observing Natsuki's extended family, and it's this aspect of the movie that makes it such an enjoyable film to watch. Anyone with slightly dysfunctional relatives will appreciate the numerous minor clashes, feuds, loyalties, gripes, trials and tribulations that go into making any such gatherings a "success", and it was an absolute joy to see Natsuki's family bounce off each other like peas on a drum (which probably makes this required viewing at Christmas time). The entire family structure and their relationships with each other are handled in a very intelligent manner, and viewers may be surprised to find themselves relating to certain situations, and finding a degree of familiarity with certain events in the story.
As far as actual development goes, there isn't really any aside from Kenji, and even that takes time to progress (although he does "man-up" in the end). Aside from that, there isn't much in the plot that encourages the rest of the characters to grow, but then again, each is an individual to a tee, and therein lies the true strength of this movie - characterisation. It's the power of their personalities (thanks to some great acting and scripting), that allows the viewer to relate to the characters in a way that many other shows would envy, and it's for this reason that development isn't really a necessity.
Summer Wars is a very enjoyable romp in the realms of absurdity that has the benefit of being relevant to a degree. The exponential growth of social networks is having an increasing impact on society, and it's this phenomenon that is satirised the most, hence the inclusion of so many societal controls and services within the confines of OZ. While the story itself may not be new, one could consider this a more up to date re-telling of the theme - kind of a "War Games 2009" so to speak.
Whatever you think of the movie, at heart it's only meant to do one thing - entertain - and it does that very well.
Summer Wars is a perfect example of a story biting off more than it can chew.
The film opens with an introduction to ‘OZ’. An information network that controls and monitors electronic services all over the world: from shopping to competitive gaming to healthcare facilities. Think the current internet age, but even more extreme.
Then we’re introduced to Kenji, a math wiz who works as a moderator for Oz and has a crush on a girl named Natsuki. A few moments later we’re introduced to this crush of his who begs him to come with her to visit her family’s summer home. Thus kicking off the
Well not quite. Turns out Natsuki has a huge family and the film takes its sweet time introducing them one by one thus establishing some characters and relationships. If you can’t quite tell who’s who by the end of all the introductions you needn’t worry. The characters who end up mattering can be counted on one hand.
All the setup eventually builds up to the following: Kenji, during his stay with Natsuki’s family, is tricked into giving a dangerous computer virus access to OZ. Said virus wrecks havoc over the entire digital world causing all sorts of trouble to pop up in the real one. Now Kenji must work together with Natsuki’s family (the 2 or 3 that matter at least) to save two worlds from imminent disaster (because the authorities don’t matter).
Thus the whole story unfolds in typical blockbuster fashion: (cyber)-battles will be fought, old grievances will be reconciled and boys will turn into men.
So the end result is a movie that wants to be a sci-fi action blockbuster AND a family drama AND a romance story. Problem is that none of the elements are particularly good in their own right.
- It fails as a romance story because the whole plotline is trite and forced. The lovebirds-to-be are complete anime-stereotypes (nerdy nice guy and cheerful nice girl) who lack any kind of believable chemistry. Initially the whole thing just feels like a plot-device to set the plot in motion. Then the middle act all but drops it. Finally, the end of the film also concludes the love story in the cheesiest way imaginable. That wouldn’t have been so bad in and of itself but it doesn’t feel believable. The 2 characters in question aren’t shown growing towards one another and learning to understand each other better. They just love each other when the plot needs them to.
- It fails as a family drama because an overwhelming majority of the characters is painfully one-dimensional. They’re just caricatures who stand in the background and occasionally showcase their one personality quirk. The few who don’t fall victim to this aren’t particularly interesting either, and are often no more than devices to shove the aforementioned crappy love-story in certain directions. The only somewhat interesting element in this plot-thread is a subplot dealing with a bastard-child who was branded an outcast of the family; but this thread is ultimately resolved in a sentimental manner.
- It fails as an action-packed blockbuster because most of the fights aren’t very interesting. The idea of having avatars do battle against a computer virus within Oz allowed for the makers to go crazy, and there are 2 or 3 spots where some creativity is showcased in regards to having fighters transform the arena to better suit their purposed. But as it goes on any semblance of choreography or creativity is thrown out of the window in favor or giant punches fuelled by the power of love and friendship. It’s sad that the best choreographed fight is a short demonstration early on in the film. Summer Wars sadly fails to avoid the usual anime-cliché where fights get less creative when the power-levels are increased.
So there you have it: 3 poorly executed and fundamentally flawed storylines that merge into one to create an unfocused and ultimately unsatisfying viewing experience.
Summer Wars was directed by Mamoru Hosoda, who previously directed the acclaimed ‘The Girl Who Leapt Through Time’. The irony here is that the two movies are almost polar opposites from an artistic standpoint.
- One tries to be a blend of many different popular anime-trappings and ends up unfocused and messy. The other has a very focused and well-thought out narrative that fully explores all the possibilities of its scenario.
- One features a huge cast of characters with no real standouts, the other features only a handful of characters most of which are (somewhat) realistic, well-developed and humanly flawed.
- One has a gimmick that ultimately serves as either window-dressing or a cheap way to create tension in the plot. The other has a gimmick that contributes the narrative in a meaningful way as an interesting dynamic.
In the end ‘Summer Wars’ failed to impress me. It tried to combine all kinds of different flavors only to end up with a product that doesn’t have any kind of flavor to it, much less one to call its own. It’s not a bad movie. The animation, especially in OZ, is wonderful (though the designs of the human characters are a little basic), the soundtrack is adequate and there are a few entertaining moments but after all the hype I excepted much more.
- Want an interesting love-story with a cool twist? Check the aforementioned ‘’The Girl Who Leapt Through Time’’. Same director, much better movie.
- Want a good story that explores familiar relationships? ‘’Haibane Renmei’’ features a surrogate family of sorts. Wonderful drama filled with realistic, richly-drawn characters and a captivating atmosphere.
- Want a cool science fiction story where a bunch of kids use strange technology in all sorts of imaginative and fun ways? Check out ‘’Dennou Coil’’. Same studio, similar concepts but explored in much more detail and with better characters to boot.
As one of the directors responsible for making Digimon: The Movie happen, I guess it makes sense for Mamoru Hosoda (also did The Girl Who Leapt Through Time) to infuse elements of his past work into future projects. Such is the case for Summer Wars, his latest and quite possibly his most ambitious film to date. Even if you’re not a fan of anime, you’ll find something to like in this sci-fi/comedy/romance spectacle that is both awfully heartwarming and very pleasing to watch.
Kenji Koiso is a high school student/math genius who works part-time with his best friend, Takashi Sakuma as moderators for the massive, widely
popular virtual world called OZ, where the norm consists of virtual shopping, business, and much more (Second Life, anyone?). One summer Natsuki Shinohara, Kenji’s senpai (who he also has a crush on) invites him to her grandmother’s 90th birthday celebration in the Jinnouchi clan estate. But Kenji is immediately caught up in Natsuki’s desperate request to act as Natsuki’s husband-to-be, much to his chagrin.
Kenji spends the initial parts of the movie getting acquainted with the rest of Natsuki’s relatives, and receives a mysterious email soon after. The message contains a huge numerical code, and, being a math whiz, Kenji opted to crack the code right away; he does so overnight. But as soon as he sends the solution, a virus - named Love Machine - successfully hacks within the OZ mainframe and causes turmoil in many parts of the world. As Kenji is deemed the culprit, it is up to him and his newfound family to solve the problem before more lives are put in danger. So, this is basically Digimon: The Movie adapted to a newer version, minus all the ‘mons making up that particular movie. While that thought might pull you away for whatever reason you might bear, Summer Wars’ narrative is more than just games and cyberspace. This movie touches on important themes, with family being one of its central points.
Okay, I lied. This movie IS all about games and cyberspace. For as much of a silly thing it is to base your movie on the inner workings of the Internet and social networking, it actually makes you feel weirdly sympathetic for those things. Perhaps Summer Wars teaches and/or reminds us that family can stretch beyond bloodlines, and we all can potentially build unbreakable bonds with total strangers even across the entire world, both real and virtual. Also, when it may seem that all the chips are down, there’s always hope, and it’s a hope we could always hold on to.
While the story’s great and all, Summer Wars would probably be nothing without its outstanding cast of characters. Stretching from the shy, introverted Kenji to the rest of Natsuki’s spunky, quirky, and empathetic family members, it truly feels like watching an ensemble cast bring their A-game to the table. Though it’s a lot of characters to take in immediately, seeing them once or twice is enough to make you remember them. Hell, I only remember a few names out of all the characters introduced, to be honest. There is a good mix of funny and sincere banter in-between, which really makes each character’s presence seem imperative and convince you to care about them. The main characters as well as the supporting ones play integral roles in bringing Love Machine down, and the movie does a good job making their strengths shine through.
But I think the best character out of all--and I think everyone is in unison on this--is Sakae Jinnouchi, Natsuki’s grandmother. Despite having minimal knowledge of the virtual world, she’s pretty much the one inspiring everyone to fight the infection and teach them the value of what family is. I also think it’s her courage and pretty much her overall personality that drives the story forward, as well as motivate the characters to do what they must.
Summer Wars is perhaps one of the best examples of an ambitious visual splendor, animated or not. The production values are all top-notch, with the near-perfect blend of CGI and cel-shaded effects bringing a lot of vibrancy to the movie’s cyberspace environment, the real world, and astounding attention to detail. Just thinking about the unimaginable number of sprites and avatars interacting in the entire virtual space is just insanity, and shows how much incredible amount of work was done to make this visual masterpiece happen. The animation style is no pushover either, as it is both breathtaking and awe-inspiring. Action scenes are all incredibly exciting, intense, and amazingly crafted that kept me at the edge of my seat for most of the movie. Character designs are also sharp and well-designed that all the more makes this one of the most magnificent-looking animated movies I’ve seen in a long while.
I don’t usually pay attention to movie soundtracks that much, mainly because most of them are so forgettable and barely intriguing; Summer Wars’s musical score is an exception. Top that with an excellent Japanese voice cast that brings much needed emotion and invokes life through the characters they play. I haven’t heard the English dub of the movie yet, but after seeing this movie, I’d be glad to that version when I finally get the chance to, all while reliving this grand adventure again a second time. Hell, I wouldn’t mind seeing it for a third go. Or a fourth. Who can blame me, really?
Summer Wars is definitely one of the best anime movies I’ve seen in years. It’s as enjoyable of a watch as it occasionally tugs on the heartstrings. It's a good reminder that there actually IS something to feel positive about being in the Internet. For all its eye-popping, superb visual presentation, it’s also got a well-written, thematic, feel-good storyline and a fantastic cast of characters that will surely please the audiences both inside and outside of the anime realm. In short, if you haven’t seen this movie yet, you’re missing out on something special.
There is only one word that can sum up this entire movie. Family. The whole concept of this entire movie revolves around being a cooperative and strong family. What does the word family mean to you? A group of people who are of same blood? This movie will show you the true meaning of family, a group of people who may or may not be of blood relation, but truly support each other till the death. That is what a true family is.
One spoiler in this review.
In a world where everything is connected to OZ (Imagine the internet,
but with animation), OZ assists almost everything, from GPS's to maintaining water pressure to sending dispatch calls for emergency vehicles. OZ helps the world and is well protected. The movie follows Kenji as he joins his crush in a visit to her grandma's 90th birthday part. While there, OZ gets taken over by a hacker and chaos ensues.
One of the best parts of the movie is the ending, as it gave so much closure and a feeling of happiness even though it was suppose to be sad. What I was expecting in the end was a funeral for grandma, but what they showed was something truly inspiring, a birthday party. While the family was dressed in normal attire, everyone who came to visit grandma (And she knew a lot of people) dressed in normal funeral attire. This was so cute, as the grandma always wanted her family to smile and never be sad. Spoilers over.
The pacing was a bit slow in the very beginning, as much action hasn't really happened. It was a lot of introduction scenes, for the massive amounts of family members in the Jinnouchi family. This pacing picked up rather quickly and kept the quick pacing until the end which was very good due to the seriousness of the main story during the time.
The art in the anime changes form night & day rather quickly. We have a gorgeous digital world, the world of OZ, and the very scenic real world, the world of Japan. The world of OZ is a very bright world with bright shapes and designs. The real world was very normal, except with amazing backgrounds and scenery, what more do I expect from the same people who made Wolf Children?
The animation of the action scenes were amazing. The animation was fluid and very little use of transitional scenes to change the angle of the fight. I enjoyed this very much since we can see every punch thrown, every kick blocked, we do not miss a thing when it comes to a fight, and there is no confusion on what exactly happened as well.
The character designs were quite splendid as well. The designs of the avatars help compliment the artwork of OZ and are very unique. The designs of the family members were great too, different enough to separate the family members (most of the family members, there were a couple who looked similar... but they were brothers) but not too unique so they still fit in with the real world Japan.
The soundtrack is outstanding. The first song that plays is OZ, the Virtual City, a song that helped introduce the world of OZ. The song is a very simple electronic song that gives off a great feeling of happiness. This assist in sending the message of OZ being a great and helpful resource. The other songs do the exact same thing the OZ, the Virtual City, as it helps carry the message and mood through. What is the difference between normal anime background music and Summer Wars soundtrack? The use of the song in the right scene and the feeling each song brings out are both executed very well throughout the movie. If this is not a good enough reason, I may just be a bit biased on the sound then.
The family members were awesome. Everyone in the Jinnouchi family appears to be in a high ranking profession. This along with the character designs helps distinguish the family members from each other. The grandma tops it off as being the best family member with her connections to a lot of high ranking people and her optimistic attitude.
This movie had great character development in the form of Kenji. Kenji learns what it is like being in a family, what it means to support one another even if the odds are against you, and too be supported by others when facing dangers such as death.
This would have been a ten, if the slow pacing in the beginning wasn't there. The movie had amazing art, a wonderful story with a great ending, an outstanding soundtrack, and a very memorable family... It is impossible to not enjoy this movie.
My own little personal life also influenced my enjoyment of the series. This is a personal story... I am a member of a big family, something I really never cared much for. Sure I like a few cousins, but that aside, I'm not that interested in talking to my uncles or aunts since there are just so many of them. I am aware though, of a strong sense of family shared between all the members of my family, and this movie has pushed me to get to know my family more when we have another reunion. I am now more interested in the history of my family thanks to this movie... who knows, my family may have lost an easy battle to the Jinnouchi.
I feel as if Mamoru made Kenji a reflection of the people who are watching the movie. In modern society, it is safe to say a sense of strong family bond has weakened, much like Kenji's parents (Sorry about the slight spoiler). Towards the end, Kenji gains support of the Jinnouchi family as well as supporting the family and learns what it means to be part of one. This is why I say the message is about the meaning of family. I will suggest this movie to be a great movie to watch with family.
This is the first anime to have gotten me off of my lazy bum to write a review. Why? Because it was awesome and I think that I need to chuck in my biased review into the mix with all the other reviews to balance out some of the negative stuff out there. Don't get me wrong though, I'm not trying to create an argument here or anything and everyone's entitled to their own opinion, here's mine:
First I’ll give you brief summary of the story in my own words. In the near future, where the internet has manifested itself into one coherent program named the
World of Oz. World of Oz is a virtual world where users can create an avatar and do miscellaneous activities such as shopping and customizing (a bit like 2nd Life). Except that "real world companies and governments" have also based themselves in the World of Oz so banks, telephone and mobile companies, national railway systems, hospitals with access medical history etc. can easily be accessed by the user. Simply put, it is a vast, global, centralized medium of communication and the user's actions in the World of Oz can potentially have real world consequences. The story revolves around a humble maths genius named Kenji and a typical beautiful school girl named Natsuki. Natsuki asks Kenji to pretend to be her boyfriend while they visit her dying grandmother in the country. The story begins to unfold from here as Natsuki's cousins and family are introduced revealing dozens of varied characters and personalities which adds a great flavor to the story. Anyway, the first night at natsuki’s grandmother’s house, Kenji receives a text littered with random numbers on his phone via the World of Oz from an anonymous user. He solves the problem and sends off the results. Unbeknownst to him, the code was to hack and get pass Oz’s intricate security system. I’ll stop there. But you can imagine what happens next... Right? The anonymous user wreaks havoc and so on. The story however is much more complex than that. Personally, that was why I enjoyed it so much.
The story’s complexity never ever over reached itself however it just kept on growing and growing in “epicness”. Here, I’d like to compare the style with Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann, not with its manliness, mecha or a particular large breast character with a humungous sniper. But with how the plot in Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann was constantly developing, one plot after another followed by a solution and a climax that was much bigger and interesting than the previous ones and how they struggled to fight on even if struggling meant moving just an inch and how they all collaborated together to fight unanimously against one cause giving us, the audience, a warm glow of pride inside. That’s how a real story reaches epic proportions which this movie successfully does within a mere 1 hour and 54 minutes.
I’m going to merge the art an sound paragraph together because though I’ve watched plenty of animes, I don’t think I’m particularly justified to talk about such thing. Let’s just say the art was simple yet elegant (oh so cliché), but yes, it served well for its purpose because it never got “in your face”. Plus its simplicity emphasized particular moments of cuteness that make you unable to contain your adoration inside causing you to leak the sound “hhnnnnggghhhh!” from your appropriate orifices. And as far as I can tell the animation was a smooth as silk. The sound was simply amazing, it was almost completely dialogue and voice driven, and occasionally a random soundtrack would pop up but not noticeably whilst adding nicely to the ambience. The voice acting was lovely… You know when a particular voice just fits a particular character? Yeah, that was the case for all the characters here. So no complaints in that department.
This perfectly leads me on to characters, there were so many characters and you probably would not be able to remember a single supporting character (i.e. the cousins) names by the end of the show. But you’d sure as hell be able to recognize them. Each character had their own unique personality and little knick-knacks. Their interaction was absolutely hilarious and also kept the plot flowing efficiently.
Of course, like most stories, there is a theme of romance which threads the whole story and ties a complete knot around it. It was perfect for me as it was not overdone in any sense. To enjoy an anime like this though, you have to shake yourself loose and just let yourself immerse in the story because it’s not incredibly realistic and of course like all anime it’s extremely exaggerated! But hey! It’s enjoyable and I would have given it 20 out of 10 for enjoyment if I could.
So what's the verdict? This is not another Toki wo Kakeru Shoujo (though similar animation style) and should be judged differently. Both were amazing in their own right. I realize this review has been incredibly biased and lacks criticism. I do have some tiny, tiny criticisms but they were miniscule and it did not affect my enjoyment one little bit. I really hope you do go watch and enjoy this movie as much as I did!
Chalk this movie up as another anime title with an anime-style story. So what the hell is an anime style story? I'm glad you asked
- Everything happens to be conveniently placed around a small group of people.
- The story starts to take one direction, and then ends up being a completely different genre from how it started.
- It turns a semi serious idea and pretty much takes a dump on the whole idea. (much like how Kure-nai did)
Now I don't mind a Pokemon Anime but if its disguised as a slice of life drama where a boy is unexpectedly thrust in the
middle of his love interest's family, this is bound to make someone other than myself rage. To be quite honest this story is literally one of the worst stories I've seen executed with such a high budget. First off, there is way to many things going on to actually care about any of them. There is a main story, and then about 4 different side stories running across the length of the movie. Now i don't want to spoil what they are but, there is absolutely no room for at least 3 of them or at the very least gone about it a completely different way. In the long run, you will realize that this anime was a shounen movie disguising itself as a sports/drama/school/comedy/supernatural/slice of life/military/sci-fi/family/action anime. This is a good example why many anime and movie titles stick to only a handful of genres.
Like I said before, the idea had great potential to become a serious movie. Take something like Second Life and incorporate it to every day life. Traffic, Weather Forecasts, Public Works, Political, Business, Real Estate, everything can be handled under one unit. It sounds like a good idea at first, until the whole system gets hacked. Serious busine.. no, hilarity ensues.
I have said many times, no matter how stupid a story is, if the characters build a good chemistry amongst each other, then the story can be forgiven because the viewers can build a good connection to the people on screen. Sadly, for me anyway, it was hard for me to enjoy the characters as well. since there is literally over a dozen characters vying for screen time. Even the family scenes where they are supposed to build a bond with the 'main' character felt half assed. I mean seriously, how many times do they need to talk about dumplings or baseball? I did however, like the grandma and the shiba inu over the rest of the crew.
Okay so the story and characters failed to impress me. But the one thing that did, would have to be the artwork. Its typical MADhouse movie quality. Relatively simple character designs over extravagant backgrounds. Its comparable to some of their other works like Tokyo Godfathers and Paprika. The set pieces are just gorgeous, although its mostly filmed around the Shinohara compound, you will see they spared no expense on the details of the house.
This is definitely comparable to a Disney or Dreamworks flick. It has action and adventure. Some suspense even though the whole movie was predictable from the start. I could see grade schoolers enjoying something of this magnitude. But as for those that are expecting something special from a "summer blockbuster" will be sorely disappointed just like most movies with that moniker.
Expect something entertaining but nothing new. I found this movie to be of fair quality (6/10), above average but not that high above average.
I've waited eagerly for this movie and what a disaster it turned to be.
Now, don't get me wrong: it's not horrible in its wholeness. Actually, it's quite good at the beginning: lovable characters with a Miyazaki-like style of interaction between them, overall realistic setting, great art and animation. But everything ends up in ruins once the plot enters the scene. It’s simply illogical in relation to its own world that is just like our own.
So if you can cope with a lame plot, you can even enjoy the movies because, like I said earlier, it’s quite good in its other aspects. But for
me it is a terrible disappointment.
Rant, there are spoilers, feel free to disagree, no cry babying on my page, constructive criticism is accepted, opinions are also accepted, it is 3 am and I am tired, do not expect former writing.
Okay, I watched the movie thinking it would be a warm hearted romantic film with comedy and a bit of action but I didn't expect such a disaster.
First of all, the story takes place in two different worlds, real life and the virtual world. The main character(can't even remember his name) is "hired" by his friend(can't remember her name) to attend a birthday party for her grandma. By "hiring" it means
for him to pretend to be her fiance. Now you may be thinking "what a twist, how would he react/her family react in this situation." Well... nobody seems to care except for the grandma. From this point the "romance" is demolished until the very end when she magically develops feelings toward him. She was in love with her uncle ever since she was little and then she falls in love with a weak main character in only a few days? There was no chemistry involved, no intimacy. In the beginning of the story, I expected some sort of event when she invited him but she was willing to pick any random guy, and the main character was the lucky one to win the lottery. "Here stay at my house, pretend to be my fiance, I LOVE YOU." I mean seriously?
From this point forward, the majority of the plot focuses on the disaster involving the internet/"the oz." The main character is actually useful and can do something, cracking an elaborate algorithm to hax the interwebz. He unintentionally does this, but doing so disrupts the entire system and society is completely screwed. With the oz(i'm just gonna call it internet) hacked the hacker can control traffic/ telephone calls/everything to screw up your day. Well, so much for an elaborate security system. The security is a long math algorithm that is possible to solve. After that, you can do whatever you want. I really want to ask... where is the security? Guy hacks internet, do NOTHING. No government, no police, no cyberpolice(oh noez), nada. Nothing tries to stop the hacker except for *gasp* the main character and the side characters. Like COME ON, someone disrupts society and no one does anything but rely on a few teenagers and adults. I''m all for "it's a movie it won't be real or else it would be boring." but seriously, the story is placed in the modern time period with no obstacles giving a confusing storyline.
The action, oh gawd. The "action" of the movie involves a little kid playing mortal kombat but as a rabbit. The only action there is, is fighting. And it isn't even the epic, amazing fights. It's very boring, repetitive unmemorable fighting.
Characters, ah good old characters. I don't know any of their names, not because i'm dumb but because NONE OF THEM ARE MEMORABLE. You have the main character. Useless but a math genius... cool. Then you have the girl. She is in love with her uncle for years, tricked a friend to pose as her fiance to deceive her grandmother, and is good at card games. Well, there is only one thing that she is useful at and it's near the end. I loved the grandma, she is the cool samurai grandma who isn't afraid to rip her child's head off. I was sad when she died. Other than that, you get a MASSIVE cast of side characters who you don't know anything. You get the portion of the side characters that are helpful in saving the world, then you get the useless ones who watch baseball all day not giving a flying f*** about anything in the real world.
Hey guys the world is ending, lets all sit and watch some random family in Japan save it! Way to go government, and security. Let's leave the fate of the world in the hands of this intellectual family who LOVES card games... Oh no a twist! There is a set back and all hope is lost. Wait what is that, OH ITS SOME MIRACULOUS EVENT THAT OBVIOUSLY SOLVES ANY PROBLEM AND SAVES THE WORLD. Freaking whole world is silent and does nothing until the last 30 minutes of their lives are at stake where they ALL decide to help the main character win against the opponent. WOO HOO WAY TO GO HERO FEMALE MAIN CHARACTER.
Now the world is saved and we now know that the government is useless. Finally lets celebrate the awesome grandma's birthday and WOAH the female main character actually falls in love with the main character???? I would have never expected that, especially since she loved her uncle since she was small, as well as if you put all the conversations they had with each other, it wouldn't even last over 10 minutes.
Well, this summarizes my rant. Feel free to disagree but please refrain from "Omg u sux man it was obvuslee the best movie EVAR and ur retorded for not realizing." I appreciate opinions though on why people feel this movie deserves an 8? Share any thoughts.
It's been quite a decade for director Mamoru Hosoda. Making a splash in 1999 and 2000 with his directorial debut with the first two Digimon movies, Hosoda honed his skills over the course of the next decade. Now ten years from his debut, Hosoda has returned to his humble beginnings, invoking his second work "Bokura no War Game" to give the world "Summer Wars"; a surreal cyberspace adventure about the power of family and the things that power can accomplish.
"Summer Wars" already gets a notch off because it really is a complete rehashing of "Bokura no War Game". From the growth of the Love Machine
to the countdown to Natsuki's 'digivolution' powered by millions of other users, it shows in every facet of the story. Where it breaks off is outside the internet. As exhilirating as the fights with the Love Machine are, Summer Wars shines much more than "War Game" in the addition of a large, sprawling family known as the Jinnouchis; all very full of life and vigor. The main character Kenji's sudden immersion into this family is nicely executed and while relationship ties are generic at best, there is a cohesion to it all that adds a solid layer to the storyline in how this online threat tightly brings together the large family that started with only loose connections to one another.
With a large sprawling family comes a great deal of characters, and this being an original movie, it's hard to remember 25 characters you'll only know for the course of an hour and a half. Naturally, the movie doesn't focus on all of them equally and mostly you only really get to know about 5 of those 25, with the other 20 getting relatively generic personalities and motives. What is notable is not a single one of the 25 characters disappear completely. Because family unity is the message of the movie, they all appear throughout contributing in one way or another until the very end where all their efforts become one.
This relatively simple story is told on two levels; the real world and the online world, and both show off the best of Mamoru Hosada's stylings as well as elevate it to a grander level. In the real world, the animation is very reminiscent of Hosoda's last work, "Toki wo Kakeru Shoujo", with unexaggerated Miyazaki-esque character designs and detailed but muted backdrops. In the online world, Hosoda goes to town with a vast and psychedelic backdrop that ultimately marks how much he has evolved as a director from "Bokura no War Game". Both styles work well together, and though they do clash a few times, both do a fantastic job of absorbing you into the movie.
"Summer Wars" also supports a relatively good score, though I didn't much care for the ending theme. Vocals shine with a wide variety of unique and interesting performances from many seiyuu that don't often work in anime. Their fresh takes on cliche characterization in anime gives the movie a strong ensemble performance on the whole.
Overall, "Summer Wars" is not the game-changer others have made it out to be, especially since its essentially a rehash of one of Hosoda's earlier works, but it is a rehash that has dramatically improved both its good and bad points, becoming a full-fledged film that is exhiliarating, funny, sad, dramatic, and enjoyable; all the things a good movie should be. This is both Hosoda showing the world how far he's come and what he's capable of doing in the future. After seeing this, I'm sure many people will want to come along for whatever future rides he has to take us on.
Summer Wars was a little overhyped for me. I went into it expecting a sort of mashup of Satoshi Kon’s Paprika and Digimon: Our War Game, and really that’s just what it is. Those are definitely the ingredients, but the measurements must have been off somewhere because despite a mouthwatering recipe, this dish came out a bit bland.
The characters are all fairly typical. The two contrasting settings however—the Jinnouchi family’s thoroughly traditional Japanese home, and the ultramodern Facebook meets Second Life world of Oz—are enough to make Summer Wars memorable. These two worlds make this movie’s message clear. Unfortunately, I feel like it’s a message
we’ve heard plenty of times before from the anime genre. Something along the lines of, “Technology is neato, and it just keeps gettin’ more so, but let’s not get too caught up in it and forget about the things that really matter the most: nature, tradition, family, and old folks.”
The prevalence of white and the weird red outlines on characters within Oz give everything a unique digital look without going all Tron on us. The animation is crisp and fluid, which makes the fight scenes within Oz a lot of fun. The fights did feel a little short to me though, and I don’t think they conveyed the intensity they were shooting for despite the eventual and predictable appearance of a Square Enix style final boss and references to nuclear bombs. Suspension of disbelief is broken a bit too easily if one pauses to think about how the characters in the “real world” are controlling their avatars within Oz. Typing really fast (or just button mashing on Nintendo DS’s and cell phones) can apparently allow Oz to read the user’s mind.
“Real world” Japan in Summer Wars is as engaging as the slick iPod future Oz. All the right details are there. The trains, the cicada sounds, the architecture, even the way people dress, talk, and interact—it’s a very accurate picture of Japan as it is today. That’s particularly important in Summer Wars, not just because Japan’s a fascinating place, but because the people behind this movie really want the viewer to notice and appreciate the graceful coexistence of new and old, young and elderly, traditional and progressive.
The plot holds very few surprises. You’ve met these characters before, and you know their story. Everything pretty much falls into place just the way you expect it to. Summer Wars doesn’t really do anything new, but it does do what it does with considerable style.
Senior Koiso Kendzhi, presented in mathematics, accepts the invitation from the girl to go to her family. If he only knew that everything will end! At first he unexpectedly should play a role of the guy of this girl. Then somebody steal his account from the "country Oz" (it is virtual reality in which you can not only play and have a good time, but also run quite serious business). As a result this couple must to save the world (real and virtual), and at the same time to rescue themself and relatives from death.
« all, that is created by the person,
is not absolutely …».
Undoubtedly, Miyazaki and Shinkai already appear the first on the importance in Japanese animation long time. And if Miyazaki allocate with the general madness, irreality and fabulousness, regularly delighting fans; Shinkai differs dot and very strong prick in the heart, pressing on the most strong human feelings. Iit is all that is necessary to tell about them. And on their background Hosoda Mamoru is represented a certain businessman, rather than the creative person. He doesn't think out plots itself, he expresses a superiority of "machine" 3D style over classical painting.
Therefore if it is necessary to put emphasis on the western audience — more better candidate then Mamoru the hardly will be found. It is not known, it is professionalism or on the contrary, but he can from any picture, whatever the sense was deep and difficult, to stick together the animated film for the smallest on an exit . (This idealism helped him to revive successfully classics of Japanese literature «The girl who has subdued time»)
And «Summer wars» turned out cheerful jumping on canons and the favourite templates, seasoned with citing of classics and on conscience worked music.« Summer wars» is not so original. On the contrary, it is copied with "Digimons", as under a carbon paper, it is enough to substitute the correct parallels. And the futuristic picture of the world combines in itself favourite Japanese « not combined»: an old clan with matriarchy and virtual reality in the spirit of the third Children of Spies.
Nearly a third of a planet sits in the Network which called «OZ Country». This is curious hint unless anybody doesn't force to carry green points. By the way, always all networks in animated films are the evil if they don't act as a universe basis. Conservatives will always treat progress so. But for children this is most that.
By the way, «Summer wars» is a picture-maskimalist as well as any child. It is expressed almost in everything. The main villain is big and terrible and at first sight he is invincible. To win the villain — so the whole world. A family is surely ancient clan. To cry — so filled in a floor. Think - that so much that blood from nose. I can not to tell that it is bad, but also i can not to tell that is good. Certainly, pleasant music dips into the childhood, but weirdos from the virtual world strongly cast memories of lovely Pokemons.
By the way, about computer technologies. In a picture they play an important role. However as well as in life. Speed of their development is unique. It is terrible to present one "fine" day will come when the perfect technology will appear not so perfect and illusion of absolute protection will pass, when that is created by a hand of the person, becomes means of his destruction. During these moments become clearly that actually it is important that matters and that is necessary to value.Some kind of virtual tragedy is developed.
And here using the charming absurd maximalism, Mamoru turns a simple children's fantasy into pretty children's fantasy. Somehow itself pulls to call this picture of fantasy, considering that here isn't anything fantastic, except preconditions. There are a lot of characters and they are different, even there is someone to catch a look. The protagonist, as according to the book, is the most ordinary school student. The heroine is the most beautiful schoolgirl. And here the school isn't present. Cons are, teases are, and school are not …
Instead for it, there will be a monologue for the burned judges in the spirit of «if all of us join hands, at us everything will turn out surely!» It causes the wildest attack of affection, though it is impossible to turn away from the rotten thoughts shouting about banality. Also causes affection a family in which the author embodied a little chauvinism under the subject end — all female part grieved, when valorous men tried to save the world.
Whether Mamoru guessed , whether left casually that «Summer wars» will have no other Japanese competitors. Actually, he stole up to Oscar. "Summer wars" as well as other works of Mamoru Hosoda, leave positive emotions after viewing and force to become thoughtful what is really important.
After the success of TokiKake (Toki wo Kakeru no Shoujo), there was quite an amount of hype over Summer Wars. However, Summers Wars doesn't live up to this hype and is decent at best.
Basically, there's this virtual world called Oz which everyone, from the government to a high school student, has an account in. Oz is heavily integrated with the actual world and a lot of things like satellites and such can be controlled from within Oz.
Then, an evil AI comes and everything in real life like traffic goes wrong due to the AI messing around with Oz, the foundation of the world and
After that, the main character averts the disaster, using his math skills.
The story may try to reflect our paradigm, where the internet is an important medium of communication and social networking sites like Facebook are used not only for the average person but for businesses. However, Oz takes several steps and bounds further by being able to control important government processes and theoretically the whole world. Not very realistic but I'll forgive that point. The main problem is the very clichéd plot of the evil AI and hackers. These overused, lame plots are best left for B movies in the west.
The art was beautiful. The scenes were picturesque and detailed; Oz was colourful and fit the theme. Even the character designs and animation had no real flaws. No complaints about the art and this was where the movie really shined.
The sound was good, not great. No really memorable tunes but no annoying ones either. Tokikake was better in this respect.
The characters themselves were pretty well developed and fairly memorable. Personalities are vibrant although slightly cliché but I still liked the characters quite a lot.
Overall, the movie is slightly better than average. There's some action, some humour, some romance, basically a bit of everything. With Tokikake in mind, I think pretty much all of this movie pales in comparison especially the plot. However, it's still an enjoyable movie and a commendable effort by Hosoda.
Summer Wars, and please don't attack me for saying this, is the most over-rated thing I've watched. My friends all talked about how great it was, sang it's praises. Why? I was baffled so when one of them offered to watch it with me on DVD I jumped on the opportunity. I would rather have jumped out the window, a trip to the A&E would have had more interesting people and the reason everything was happening would be clear.
I genuinely disliked most of the characters, why should we settle for complimenting these bland as bread people? Every refers to the aspects of family in this,
the only one I feel that applies to is Granny and Shota (Good Lord Shota, I have never been so frustrated at a character and I watched several episodes of SAO). The others were forgettable, not because they were bland, but because they were all designed to be unique and quirky.
The romance sucks, by the way. I'm sorry, I have to say it. It's not well developed, I didn't feel chemistry and the whole set up was so painful forced that I sat there thinking, goodness this girls a tad pushy isn't she. I certainly wouldn't let myself get dragged along by such an obnoxious girl just because she was cute, like our mayonnaise protagonist does.
I just remember how angry I felt watching this, mainly because of those same friends. They recommended this over 'The Girl who Leapt Through Time'? Piss off, it feels a bit like an awful prank. I went into this expecting to feel like it was Kimi no na Wa but left wishing I'd watched the live action Dragon Ball.
Am I being a prick to a film I know other people like? Yes. Do I think the film deserves me ranting incomprehensively at it? No.
Problem is, I didn't get enjoyment out of it, I sat there passively watching, getting angry occasionally.
Mamoru Hosoda is a fairly prolific anime director I haven’t gotten much into yet, despite the fact that I enjoyed The Girl Who Leapt Through Time quite a bit. I chose to watch Summer Wars because the premise of it seemed a bit more unusual than his others. It’s also been compared several times to the Digimon movie, which I haven’t seen since it came out so I can’t comment on the similarities. Summer Wars came out in 2009 and opens with Kenji Koiso, a typical 17 year old virginal weirdo who’s never asked a girl out and has the physical sensitivity of an abuse
victim etc., but naturally this also means he’s super good at Nerd Stuff like computers and especially math. Oh yeah, if you don’t want spoilers avoid reading on and skip to the final paragraph for my generalization.
Kenji codes for an online simulation called Oz, which is a massive worldwide sensation that pretty much everyone uses. In Oz people create grotesque avatars that look like… Digimon and then travel this exciting white space filled with other floating avatars and objects to do literally anything. They can even log into their avatars and do their taxes and shop. Why anyone would need or even want to do that is anyone’s guess because it sounds more inconvenient, but basically Oz is this omnipresent networked monstrosity that is hooked up to absolutely everything and runs everything in the entire world ever. Kenji has a girl who we’ve had no background run in on him coding and asks him to pretend to be her fiancé at a family reunion to make her grandma happy. Why is this girl, who’s Natsuki Shinohara and hinted to be extremely popular and asking literally anyone to do this job, picking the most unbelievable excuse for a sexhaver possible? Especially when he’s visibly having anxiety attacks just by being around her? His cover should’ve been blown instantly, but this is another anime more concerned with nerd wish fulfillment than reason. Also, why is this even necessary? Natsuki says it’s to not disappoint her grandmother who she told had a super cool boyfriend, but what kind of excuse is that? Not only is Kenji the exact opposite of that description which foils her plan, but why the hell did Natsuki lie to her grandmother in the first place? Shouldn’t she be apologizing? Was she really worried her grandmother would be heartbroken over realizing her 18 year old granddaughter is currently single? If that’s the issue, why does Natsuki immediately say that after her grandma’s birthday party is over that she’ll say they just broke up? Won’t it not even matter then? Why compound the lies and risk embarrassing yourself in front of your entire family? Why not just say you broke up before? This is the first plot device of the movie and you can already guess the tone of the rest of this review.
So for whatever reason Kenji is dragged along to this weekend family reunion. He meets Natsuki’s huge family with almost no notable personalities. They’re only eccentric because the family is big and in one place, and most of them will never do anything the entire movie. This is a shame, because 90% of Summer Wars doesn’t take place in the digital world but rather in this packed house with a bunch of stock personalities with no unique traits and a one or two shouting uncles. In the first night, Kenji gets a random text asking him to solve a cypher. Instead of sleeping, he instead spends hours in the night solving this cypher for no reason for a complete stranger. But oh dear, it turns out the cypher is the security code for the entirety of Oz, and a super hacking AI has used it to take over and wreak havoc on the entire world because again, everything completely relies on this computer game. This shows how implausible this set up is in the first place, because no one would ever, ever allow such a completely codependent network like this precisely because of the massive security problems. Which is especially important when the world and every individual person’s data can be compromised by solving a cypher that literally anyone can access at the damn log-in page. And if a math whiz who didn’t even place number one in his country can hack the biggest goldmine of information in the world, it’s a wonder how this is apparently the first time this has happened.
Stupid shit aside, the AI (named “Love Machine”?) begins hijacking accounts and is able to get whatever security clearance that account has. It keeps growing as it assimilates more accounts and everyone’s under a panic and failing to stop it. This is a good chance to talk about Oz, because like a lot of things in Summer Wars it falls apart because it’s portrayed as both a plausible device but just rolls however it wants to without any context to define how it’s meaningful. This isn’t Dot Hack, and players only have their computer screens and keyboards. Despite this the perspective inside the game shifts to some exact controlled movement which doesn’t make sense, and there basically are no rules from there. Combat is just whatever random arrays of moves someone’s avatar happens to have, and these realistically freeform Dragon Ball Z combat sequences are somehow controlled only by someone mashing on a keyboard.
The very few digital sequences in Summer Wars are little more than an excuse to show off some surreal art design and animation with the wide variety of stylistic character designs in the avatars. This can be fun to watch for all the variety in movements and animation with a lot of things moving around on screen at once, but without definitive plot or story context it’s just eye candy wank. And not even very good wank, since the Oz scenes are very, very infrequent and the environment of Oz itself is pretty dull to look at, just being a bunch of white space and flat projected screens even though it’s apparently a virtual world that everyone lives in. You’d think the technology would have higher standards, especially for something this popular on a worldwide scale. I’ve seen worlds and GUIs in decades old MMOs that have more going on in them. Outside of Oz, the art style and animation is nothing special. It’s all fairly realistic environments and character designs. Animation is fluid but nothing else. Not even the directing left much of an imprint on me. I think my favorite editing in the whole movie was a scene early on where someone tossed a helmet to the front of the viewer and just before it was caught the scene cuts with the sound of a baseball cracking and another family member is on TV playing baseball from the opposite angle the helmet was thrown. And that’s just a throwaway.
I literally just finished this movie and I’m not even quite sure what to talk about because so much of its time felt like fluff. Probably because most of it is this uninteresting family playing around and talking about shit we as strangers have no reason to care about how like generations ago they fought in wars and used to have a lot of money. So what? I don’t know any of you guys, and I don’t even like hearing my own family backstories at reunions. Natsuki’s uncle suddenly shows up despite not speaking to the family for ten years because he sold grandma’s property in order to fund his career and research in America. A pretty dick move honestly, and everyone’s reasonably upset at this “betrayal”. I don’t know why he didn’t just ask grandma if he could do that since she seems pretty supportive and I think he’d be a little concerned if he simply found out that she didn’t care about profit more than losing him. Anyway, Natsuki wants to screw her uncle because anime and it turns out that he created the Love Machine AI that’s destroying the world right now because between Kenji being an Oz admin, Kenji randomly being invited to this get together, uncle suddenly showing up at this tumultuous time, and another family member being the strongest player in Oz, the world is just full of coincidences. It turns out uncle gave the AI to the United States who wanted to test its hacking capabilities before buying it, and the United States dimwittedly sent it in on Oz.
Hold the phone. You mean to tell me that the goddamn United States made the decision to send a hacking program into a universal server that holds the entire world’s – include their – information to test out how good it would be at compromising their own security? This is why hacking programs are tested on isolated servers and the like, imagine if the US wanted to test out some new program and tested it on their actual live military defense systems. And this is just the tip of the iceberg. Somehow none of the US’s top brass realized that if this was discovered, and no shit it would be because everyone in the world relies on Oz, the United States would have basically committed an act of worldwide terrorism and betrayed every nation on the entire planet. This would be a catastrophic geopolitical nightmare that dampens the entire inevitable success of beating the program if you actually think about it. I don’t think they should’ve been so happy about saving one nuclear base, I’d be worried about all of the other ones after this scandal has probably ruptured several economies, political processes, and national securities.
Where was I? Oh yeah, that kid I mentioned earlier is Kazuma. He’s the world’s first hope for defeating Love Machine, because the best way to defeat an AI that can control all functions of a game’s code is to reduce its HP to 0. He gets his ass beat by Love Machine because it’s absorbed so many AIs, though why Love Machine doesn’t simply absorb Kazuma is anyone’s guess because it looks pretty easy. They decide to try this again and Kazuma actually practices kung-fu in real life in preparation which is pretty hilarious, and I’d like to point out how apparently the precision of real life kung-fu can somehow be transferred perfectly in-game from keyboard. I can’t even imagine a game being made that allows that much control with a keyboard, at that. Kazuma loses again because this plan was stupid in the first place since Love Machine can basically “cheat”. Love Machine then says “fuck it” and fires Chekov’s Gun in the form of a satellite that’s been repeatedly mentioned and aims it at a nuclear plant with a countdown displayed until it lands. Grandma, who has died at this point, has her will read off to the family after conveniently being found at random by Natsuki. The will does nothing but talk about Wabisuke, who abandoned the family, but for some reason everyone sees that as reason to forgive rather than be incredibly pissed that they were completely unmentioned in their grandma’s will despite being more courteous as children. Grandma says that in times of stress, sometimes everyone just needs to kick back and chill y’know what I’m sayin’? Everyone takes that to heart and has a big meal while the satellite and the apocalypse draws ever closer. I have to say, I don’t think grandma had the end of the world in mind when she wrote that message, and everyone should really be getting off their ass and trying to stop this thing because everyone in the world who can is conveniently in one place right now.
Uncle Wabisuke says that this is all just a game to Love Machine and it can’t resist a game (even it’s just made for hacking so that sounds like an ass pull) so the gang come up with a plan to have Natsuki challenge it to some old card game, wagering all the accounts its stolen so they can access the account that has the GPS and redirect the satellite. Keep in mind Love Machine has no reason to abide by any of this because it controls the entire game. What follows is the card game match, pulled off with zero tension because like everything else about Oz we get zero context of the game. It’s rapidly plowed through, we rarely see the board or the actual progression of each match, and there’s no strategy. It’s literally just cycled images of everyone’s expressions and cards being played with no idea of what’s going on other than someone on our side remarking whether it’s going good or bad, so the game isn’t interesting or fun to watch. These two whales that are the guardian spirits of Oz and somehow haven’t been taken over by Love Machine apparently grant Natsuki a “rare item” that changes her appearance for no reason. The item does absolutely nothing. It doesn’t give her an advantage in the game, so the whales should’ve just minded their own business. If everything preceding this wasn’t pointless enough, Natsuki wins the game but it’s immediately rendered moot by the fact the countdown is still going. None of the gigantic, triumphant attempt at an emotionally charged scene that just happened mattered. Wabisuke begins to hack into Love Machine like he should’ve been doing in the first place, and Kenji is continuously trying to get into Oz by hacking cyphers in order to still redirect the GPS. What follows is some tech bullshit that doesn’t make sense, Wabisuke weakens Love Machine which allows Kazuma to punch it to death this time and Kenji alters the coordinates of the satellite and it crashes and everything’s okay except for the oncoming political chaos hooray. Oh and Kenji gets a kiss and nosebleeds. Anime.
In conclusion, Summer Wars? More like Summer Bores. I may have not been trying so hard to dismantle everything about this movie’s plot if at the very least the story it was telling wasn’t such a damn bore. Plot holes aside, Summer Wars is visually nondistinct sans the Oz scenes which are barely featured and have aesthetic laziness of their own. This huge family is pretty ordinary all things considered and lack backgrounds or strong personalities, and really just come across as faces bolstering the cast amount to have more shit going on in each scene even though so much of the conversations and events are meaningless on a plot-scale and not entertaining when isolated. Kenji has no attachment to this family whatsoever and we barely get Natsuki’s perspective, so the narrative focuses on these family drama elements we don’t get enough perspective on. Everything regarding the technology reeks of being written by someone who has no idea about tech or video games, and it contrasts very poorly with the plausible tone the rest of the movie tries to take, even as it’s lighthearted. Oz has no mechanics or rules to make it fun or be able to fully understand the scenes. Context is severely lacking making every part of this movie feel like it doesn’t matter, which creates unsatisfying contrived plot developments that are just made up as they go along, so every twist is not a twist. Countless scenes have nothing to do with anything or plot relevant scenes that end up being pointless in the end.
I've heard of people saying this movie has commentary on technology, but what commentary? Yes, the world of Summer Wars suffers for its reliance on the Oz system, but that's not a fault of technology as much as their own stupidity in designing it. And there's no discussion or talk anywhere in the movie about the problems of that system or reforming it, and acknowledging a theme exists isn't anywhere near as important as taking a stance on it. There's also a light theme regarding Japanese family values that's extremely generic sentimentality and buried under Kenji’s perspective because it has nothing to do with him. Kenji should’ve just stayed home that day. Every true weeb knows that summer sucks.
Let's start by getting all the obvious win of this movie in terms of art and sound and whatnot--it's amazing! But unfortuntely for Summer Wars, art and sound do not a movie make.
Going against the 9 and 10 grain of the common persuasion here, I have to say that this movie was a dud when it came to actual purpose. Like someone else mentioned everything is just too damn coincidental--oh hey math genius needs to meet old grandma whose grandson happens to be the best net fighter in the world and whose other grandson yadda yadda yadda connections all over Japan, birthday coming up
soon, I think these people in their little rural home just so happen to rule Japan from the shadows of the countryside. Everything is just too convenient and contrived that its like something from M. Night Crapalan.
This could have been a good movie but it wore itself thin by trying to incorporate too much, think National Lampoons Summer Vacation X the beginning of Home Alone X everything's alright in the end. Boy gets girl and everyone lives happily ever after. Where was the true conflict? When you sort through everything that went on it wasn't more than 'oh shit rogue AI' and then that turns into the BS satellite and then everything is fine...
Ok its like 4 am and my mind is all over the place. Not a supreme movie but not a stinker. Give it a shot and then watch something like 5cm per second if you want a decent slice of life that's like whoa.
Summer Wars is a highly acclaimed movie that pleased audiences in Japan, the US, and pretty much everywhere. It is cheesy and doesn't have the strongest plot, but it is a terrific feel good movie and will make you smile.
Plot and characters: 6/10
Spoilers! If you haven't seen the film yet. I summarize the rather short plot, so if you plan on watching and you don't want it spoiled than skip the plot summary!
Kenji is a socially awkward math wizard that is invited by a girl in his class named Natsuki to pretend to be her boyfriend, so she doesn't have to go to her family
reunion single. This comedy plot has been done quite a few times before, but this movie has a twist. The world of this movie has their own version of the internet where people literally enter it virtual reality style, much like the internet on Futurama. Almost everything is done online and if something were to happen to the web, the results would be at least as bad if not worse than what would happen in our own world. Unfortunately, Natsuki's crazy uncle has created a rogue AI that wishes to wreak havoc on the web and eventually destroy it. However, the AI for some reason has the human trait of arrogance and will accept any challenge from a mere human. If the AI (hilariously named Love Machine) is defeated in a game than it will somehow lose the accounts it controls and be destroyed for reasons that make absolutely no sense. At first Natsuki's cousin who is secretly the greatest Street Fighter player in the world challenges the nefarious AI to a duel. Imagine if in Ingmar Bergman's 7th Seal, Max von Sydow's character challenged Death to Street Fighter 2 rather than chess. This is sort of like that, which makes it rather hilarious. After the cousin Kazuma is defeated, it is Natsuki's turn to challenge the machine to a Japanese card game called Koi Koi. The entire world teams up to help her and with glorious music playing in the background mankind defeats the evil AI. Before it dies, the furious AI redirects a sattelite to crash into the town and kill everyone, but this of course doesn't stop the local baseball game that the movie keeps panning over to. Baseball is far more important than life or death. Since this is a comedy, everything ends happily and Natsuki and Kenji fall in love while realizing the strength of a loving family.
According to Summer Wars, the following clip is how Kasparov vs. Deep Blue should have ended. We humans must come together to defeat the machine!
Art and music: 8/10
The art and music here is top notch and you will nearly cry tears of joy when mankind comes together to take on the AI. You are of course aware of how cheesy and ridiculous this movie is, but you can't take away from its emotional satisfaction and impact.
Is this a perfect movie or the greatest movie the anime genre has ever known? No. However, it is a very fun, emotionally satisfying, and beautifully animated movie that you won't regret watching unless of course you are a Scrooge caliber curmudgeon.
What would happen if Facebook was used to control every key factor of society? Used to govern every day to day function of our lives? Director Mamoru Hosoda answered this question in 2009 with his heartfelt standalone, Summer Wars. We live in a world that is constantly becoming more and more integrated with the technology we create; so where do we draw the line and say enough is enough?
Summer Wars takes place in two primary locations, Ueda, Japan and the virtual world OZ. The year is an alternate, but very similar 2009, where the world relies on a virtual database known
has OZ. Every piece of information humanity controls and uses is stored in OZ; from personal records to nuclear launch codes. Least to say, humanity struggles to function without it (sound familiar).
The story of Summer Wars accomplishes what many other anime fail to do; teach two separate lessons and manage to give ample development to both. To add a cherry on top, the two lessons have very little to do with each other; but they meld together so well I had to remind myself that they weren't one and the same. The movie has a natural, realistic feeling about it; so the moral lessons rarely come off as childish or goofy. In addition to a great message, Summer Wars provides an interesting look into the lives of a "traditional" Japanese family. Hosoda himself said that he received inspiration from the first time he meet his wife's extended family. I'm always interested in learning about the daily lives of other cultures; even if it is through a semi-fictional movie.
However, the story of Summer Wars doesn't hit every mark correctly. Often times the older family members appear to have little to no knowledge of OZ, only to have fully fledged avatars a few hours later. All throughout the movie people seem to lose and gain knowledge of OZ, just to progress the plot and allow for exposition. In turn this makes many scenes come off as silly and unbelievable, which is one of the worst flaws for a fictional movie to have. If the viewing audience can't take the film serious, the message in question will be lost. Luckily this isn't prominent enough in SW to ruin the picture.
I have a love-hate relationship with the art direction of Summer Wars. The style used in the real world was a wonderful choice. It has a "lived in" feel; everything is worn and brimming with history, just like the Jinnouchi family. In addition to their personalities, the design of the different family members makes them very easy to relate to. Unlike most anime, they are designed with realistic proportions in a way that gives them an inviting appearance. I could feel the emotions they were expressing as if they were real people; the facial movements were wonderful. However, none of this applies to the virtual world of OZ. The art direction is goofy at best, and the 3D animations looks terrible. Not to mention the very creepy and nonsensical design of the central, social hub. The whole world is just very bizarre and I have trouble believing that this program would have worldwide success. Also what's up with the obvious Disney advertising? Disney world/land are mentioned multiple times in the movie; and the main character's avatar is literally an angry version of Mickey Mouse.
In the animation department everything is on par with your average high budget film. Nothing is particularly bad, but there isn't anything ground breaking either. The biggest highlight would be the movement of various facial features, such as lip flap, cheekbones and smiles. I can't say the "Art" for Summer Wars was poor, but it left me grasping for more.
The sound design of Summer Wars is a bit of a mixed bag. The environmental noises meet the required mark, and never show a desire to go beyond that point. For most anime series I'd let this pass, but not for a movie with such a large grossing total. By this point the anime industry is doing well enough, that budget and "expertise" issues are no longer a legitimate excuse. It's time to step up to the plate and get "sound design" under control. However, I am happy to say that the English dub for Summer Wars is of very high quality. Each voice actor matches their character's personality perfectly; and they project their emotions in a way that warms the heart.
The OST is on the same note (sorry) as the voice work. Just like life, the spice of soundtracks is variety; and Summer Wars never lets down. There are soaring trumpet blares, emotional violin pieces and funky electronic beats. It has a magical air about it, that you only find in top quality animated works. All this was especially surprising, when I found out that the lead sound director was a relatively new face. The guy doesn't even have an English wiki page, so you know he's pretty obscure. Still, he did a wonderful job; and I hope to hear more by him.
This, my friends, is where Summer Wars truly shines. This why we watch it. The dialogue between the family members and Kenji's friends is wonderfully crafted, without any of the charm being lost in translation. As a matter of fact, the translators have written in some American cultural references to give the characters even greater charisma. I've never felt more connected to a group of characters than I did with the Jinnouchi family. Every one of the members is unique; each has a memorable personality that is original and easy to identify with. I found myself comparing them with members of my own family; rekindling past "get togethers" and events.
My biggest and only complaint is the amount of screen time each family member receives. A handful were allotted large chunks of dialogue, but many were left with just a few moments in the movie. These characters still stand on their own; I just want to get to know them better.
Personal Enjoyment/ Overall:
Summer Wars is a gripping tale, that will catch hold of your heart and not let go. Even with its problems, there is just too much to love. This movie needs to go down as a family classic. I give it a rating of Must Watch on my scale of recommendation.
Try The First Couple Episodes
Run For Your Life-Worst
As usual I recommend you buy a copy, and help support our local dubbing companies and the anime industry as a whole. However, just taking the time to watch it is of greater importance.
As a final statement I recommend that you take my numerical scores with a grain of salt; as numerical scores are easily skewed and each person has their own understanding of the 1-10 scale.
Summer Wars - A film with a very unique and touching story to tell, and unfortunately a whole lot of missed potential.
It falls flat in a lot of areas and there is no mistaking that, but I'd say with what remains; it's still worth your time.
Summer Wars is first and foremost about family, and the strength that comes with a prideful and close family. It is very much a love-letter to traditional family values and the strength of having pride in your own.
The Jinnouchi family is without a doubt the best part of this movie. The family dynamics and the relationships within are incredibly
realistic and even more-so relatable. You follow Kenji, who, like you; is an outsider looking-in on this close family in their get-together, and also like him; you start to fall in love with them all as you learn more and more about many of the characters in the family and their backgrounds. Watching this it filled me with nostalgia of my own family get-togethers and my family is neither Japanese, or this huge. I'd imagine it manages to do this with most viewers, just because of how beautiful the portrayal is and how the beauty of pride in a/your family is a relatable feeling to all, no matter your country. Well that, and all the very relatable family figures...
In this family you've got the strong, very-respected and traditional head of the family: Sakae, mom, and grandma of many; the not-so-respected family-outcast who isn't so close: Wabisuke; the impressionable, angsty teenage girl of the family: Natsuki; the introverted and nerdy teenager: Kazuma; and all the many different aunts and uncles from different backgrounds and walks of life, with their many mischievous little children and few grown-up, aspiring children. All in all, there is four generations of this family that is shown; and the way the show portrays the many dynamics that would come with that is near-perfect, and it all goes a long way in making the film feel very grounded--despite it's absurd, and often unbelievable story--and enjoyable despite it's many shortcomings. The film is about how the pride and love within this huge family brings all these very different people together under one roof and with one goal; to tackle an otherwise very huge, important and seemingly unsolvable problem.
So with this interesting premise, message and lovely portrayal-- where does it go wrong? Well, to put it candidly: this film fails mostly in it's execution of story. Summer Wars wants to have this grounded and relatable portrayal of family; but it also wants a very wacky (and seemingly ill-devised...) story/plot to accompany it, and it ends up at times feeling like two different films that were badly meshed together.
The villain of the story, "Love Machine"; while clearly not the main or secondary focus of the film--is weak as a character and as a result, feels very nonthreatening (which he very much is not supposed to be). He has, that I can remember, no actual lines of dialogue. In the film he is simply meant to represent the damages that disconnect in a family can bring and how pride can be a double-edged sword. And this is not a subtle representation either--the villain feels like a walking, 1-dimensional symbol. NOT like an actual character. And this ends up hurting both the enjoyment you'll get from the film and your interest in the story.
Next, there's the love interest Natsuki... This character isn't much better than the antagonist of the film. The film wants to make you feel for her at a certain sad point, and root for the protagonist, Kenji, in his interest for her; but the character is never really fleshed out much, nor made that like-able. The film starts out with her lying/using Kenji in a rather selfish and thoughtless manner, and then never really gives her a moment to shine or be made redeemable afterwards, so you never really "root" for her or for Kenji's success at winning her love--which makes that whole part of the story also rather pointless and unenjoyable.
Now with these two rather subpar characters out of the way, there is also the case of the writing in this film. It feels very inconsistent. Often you'll find yourself having to refrain from questioning many parts of the story involving OZ and Love Machine, because not too much of what happens with them makes a whole lot of sense. Yeah, you could argue that they didn't go for realism to begin with, but I can't help but feel they wanted to leave a message in here about technology and how the world is depending on it more and more and the strain that could put on traditional family values-- but such a message fails when so much of what happens in the story feels absolutely unbelievable and appears completely illogical to begin with. And with such a realistic and endearing portrayal of family, such an absurd and unrealistic plot just ends up feeling out of place.
I feel like they could have still gone for absurd, but at least tried to make the plot relatively airtight in it's execution, NOT leaving the viewer to constantly wonder just how certain events happened the way they did or why certain characters would do what they did. As the viewer you're thrown between realistic and believable to unrealistic and unbelievable way, way too much; and not in a well-structured way.
With my biggest love and three biggest gripes of this film out of the way, what else is there? Well in-terms of praising it, I'd say on the whole; the film is still somewhat competently made. The art is simple, but still very colourful, beautiful and nice to look at, and the animation feels very fluid. The soundtrack for this film is rarely anything but fitting; to the abstract and sweet background tunes while you watch the family's slice-of-life moments, to the tense and dramatic action-songs. The voice actors also all do great jobs (especially that of Sakae and Wabisuke!) and are definitely responsible for much of the "life" of the family.
Overall I'd say this film is good. It's not bad, but it's not great either; and after finishing it I couldn't help but feel like it really could have been something truly special.
...Would I call this film disappointing? Maybe. But not from my expectations going-in, but from the initial setup and end-payoff. It takes you on a seemingly very promising ride that ends up going a bit too far downhill, and never really recovers.
[This is my first review... comment on my profile/message me with any feedback if you wish. Enjoy.]
Summer Wars. With a title a bit away from the actual topic of the movie this movie bring very nice feelings to you. Ranging from exitement to sadness, fun and dessperation, and so on. This movie really felt good while watching and I bet that's how it should have been.
The plot is very interesting. I like how they mix virtual and real concepts very well, making the relation between a person's avatar and himself very important throughout the movie. They did a good job in that as well
as making real moments as intence as virtual ones, even though the virtual parts had more action, both had the same level of importance for the plot.
I really liked the art style in this movie. They did a good job with animations and even as well with still pictures. Scenes in the virtual world were very good and made a good effect with the events happening at the moment. Characters were very well made and this adds to the fact that almost everything moved almost human-like in the real world while the virtual world had many different art styles ranging from 3d models to pure anime style to plain cartooney characters. Expressions showed exactly how the characters felt and acted.
Sound was also very well made. I personally don't pay much attention to this part but i would rate it like I did because of the themed placements of soundtracks. As for some SFX, there were some that didn't totally belong to the corresponding event. However, I believe that they made a good job with sound in important moments to theme it very well.
Characters were very well planned. They had sll unique personalities and psicologies and you could see that both in their human selves and in theuir avaters (for most of them). All characters had so me sort of weakness and strength either phisical or mental. When it comes to times of danger, our characters stand together as one. If on gives up, the others convinve him to keep fighting.
This movie, as said before, made me feel good. Putting aside favoritism for furry characters (*Is a furry*) the virtual world made me want to make it real. I've never seen a family as united as the one in this movie and characters confronting a powerfull enemy standing side by side, supporting one another. It makes you feel in many ways and forms. Even though the movie took me about three days to watch due to me having things to do and having to stop it and watch bit by bit, it was worth the time. As they say,"It's not about the destination, it's about the journey"
Summer Wars was recommended to me by an eccentric friend whose tastes in all aspects of life differ greatly from mine. This is key in understanding that I was genuinely very surprised to find that I really enjoyed Summer Wars, to the extent that I might even be willing to add it to my top 5 favourite anime of all time.
The first key aspect to throw in to this review, is that I watched Summer Wars in a group setting. I was with a load of friends at our local anime club meeting. And every little nuance or easter egg someone could spot was
pointed out. But the overwhelming majority commented that the story is so very similar to the Digimon movie. Now, Archaeon mentioned that the plot was similar to the 1983 film "War Games." However, coming from a different generation, I had never even heard of War Games, and I myself had not seen the Digimon movie. So though the plot may have been used before, I think to judge this movie with the notion that it's plot is in fact unoriginal is to compare apples and oranges. Those movies were those movies, Summer Wars is Summer Wars.
Summer Wars takes place in a not so distant future. The notion of the virtual world OZ is undoubtedly commentary on the interconnectivity of our modern day society. Indeed, with nanotechnology just around the corner (projected for consumer product releases in under 10 years), the notion of a society where our virtual profile in a mass social network literally controls our life is not impossible to imagine. What I did rather appreciate though, is the depiction that despite the reliance on OZ to get anything done, the world still ran is it would. People still interacted outside the web, life was not that dissimilar to how it is now. This concept really drives the idea home.
We follow the story of Kenji, a math prodigy, who has been duped into tagging along with his secret crush Natsuki to her family gathering, where he immediately feels isolated and alone. The world is foreign to him, and everyone is a stranger. Kenji receives an email on his phone of a series of numbers. Thinking of it as nothing more than a complex problem, he sets out to solve it, and sends his answer back. The next day the world is plunged into turmoil, as a hacker has taken control of the mass social networking site OZ, and is hijacking accounts (including Kenji's) left right and centre. It doesn't take long for the world to literally be turned upon itself, as the hacker has access to municipal traffic lights, water valves etc... and is of course, setting everything to go haywire.
Throughout this commotion, we are taken through the personalities of Natsuki's family. Each character is uniquely designed, and masterfully executed. The thing that really elevates Summer Wars from just an interesting plot, to an immersive story is the genuine relationships which have been developed amongst all the characters. We are not simply being told a story, we are paying witness to one that is already unfolding. And for this reason, one can really relate to the story, and feel immersed in it. This movie isn't just about them, it's about you as well.
Overall, this is one anime with the kind of a depth a mature viewer can appreciate. Yet it remains accessible to all audiences. It's a wonderfully executed story, and one you really get caught up in.
Whether you want to watch a movie, or enjoy an experience, you can feel satisfied with watching "Summer Wars."