Summer Wars

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roriconfan's avatar By roriconfan on Dec 7, 2012

THE STAFF
Recipe: Take one half standard slice of life comedy, and one half Digimon formula. Stir them in a bawl for ninety minutes and add a rather high budget for flavour. The result is Summer Wars.
- Animated by Madhouse, the king of animated series. Ok, it’s not a series but they still did a great job with the material they had.
- Directed by Hosoda Mamoru, who also did the first Digimon movies; so no wonder they feel so similar.

SCRIPT
We have a stereotypical spineless geek boy (blushes even by touching a girl), with a bad future career yet with a good heart.
Duh, now what does that remind me of? Could this be some sort of wish-fulfiment romantic comedy?
He is sort of forced to pretend being the lover and future husband of the prettiest girl of his school.
Yup; it is.
The reason she wants that is because she promised her one step before the grave grandmother to let her see the next heir of their proud, old fashioned house.
And if that is not forced drama, I don’t know what it.
Some misunderstandings, some ecchi, some erotic teasing and lots of secondary characters in the form of relatives doing their eccentric stuff. And then the story switches to the internet, where the dork’s virtual avatar is hijacked by an A.I. which plans to absorb cyberspace and bring a nuclear apocalypse.
WOAH where did that come from?
But worry not, since there seems to be a way to defeat it by playing videogames.
You can start facepalming now.
Ok, it’s a very far-fetched scenario full of plot conveniences and a cop-out solutions to everything but it’s not like the movie pretends to be serious. It’s silly fun and does it well. Doesn’t excel at script for the same reason of course.

CAST
The characters are all very lively but because of their large number and the short duration of the film, they don’t escape their stereotypes. There is a bit of character development for the major ones but if you happen to have seen a couple of school comedies, you know how it will turn out right away. And don’t do the mistake of thinking about their goals and motivation because they will only appear to be retards this way. Hell, what does nuking the whole world has to do with with an A.I. learning? Or how can you call legit a victory that is based on pure luck? Hm, whatever, the cast is colourful but nothing special or memorable.

PRODUCTION VALUES
The animation is of rather high budget as the characters have a wonderful lively body language and the 3D visuals used to represent the virtual world are indeed geeky detailed and very reminiscent of videogames. Each block of arena or message board is represented in an interesting way and Love Machine’s Hindu God appearance and battle style are plain awesome. Even the real world is presented fine in all its typical glory, with characters being drawn in plain outfits fitting their persona and a house mixing the traditional with the modern in decoration… inside a land-bound ship, in the green outskirts. You still can’t consider the whole thing to be Ghibli-level, as the animation is not that smooth in motion or rich in textures but the aesthetics are in the right place and can easily win the average viewer. Voice acting felt rather dry as although the actors tried to breathe life into their characters, they still don’t sound very professional. Maybe this applies just to the Japanese dub since it is basically a Korean production. Anyway, besides this minor glitch, the characters feel alive and interesting and the background music is somewhat epic in style with all that happens while the sound effects during the battles are pretty damn good.

LEGACY
A fine movie to spend n a joyful evening, without making you think of gasp too much. It is not a masterpiece in any way as the plot is far fetched and flows too convenient, while the characters are just colourful stereotypes without much room for development. Fun but eventually forgettable.

And now for some excused scorings.

ART SECTION: 8/10
General Artwork 2/2 (looks nice)
Character Figures 1/2 (generic)
Backgrounds 2/2 (very detailed)
Animation 2/2 (generally good)
Visual Effects 1/2 (lots of fancy internet gismos)

SOUND SECTION: 8/10
Voice Acting 2/3 (corny but fitting with the feeling of the series)
Music Themes 3/4 (not great but fitting with the feeling of the series)
Sound Effects 3/3 (very good)

STORY SECTION: 5/10
Premise 1/2 (typical)
Pacing 2/2 (fast)
Complexity 1/2 (not much)
Plausibility 0/2 (none)
Conclusion 1/2 (cheesy)

CHARACTER SECTION: 6/10
Presence 1/2 (generic)
Personality 2/2 (cheesy but well founded)
Backdrop 1/2 (generic and simplistic but it’s there)
Development 1/2 (overblown but it’s there)
Catharsis 1/2 (overblown but it’s there)

VALUE SECTION: 3/10
Historical Value 0/3 (none)
Rewatchability 1/3 (low because of too little plot)
Memorability 2/4 (nice ideas but nothing much to bother remembering it)

ENJOYMENT SECTION: 3/10
Art 1/1 (looks nice)
Sound 1/2 (sounds ok)
Story 1/3 (feels generic)
Characters 0/4 (they are stereotypes)

VERDICT: 5.5/10

5/10 story
8/10 animation
8/10 sound
6/10 characters
5.5/10 overall
LeGo's avatar By LeGo on Jun 5, 2010

La ultima gran obra de Mamoru Osoda,muchos no lo conoceran,pero estuvo a cargo del Castillo ambulante/Howls moving castle(por unos problemas con Miyazaki que tuvo,lo termino abandonando).Dicho esto es inevitable hacer comparaciones con las obras de Ghibli.

Summer wars,a diferencia de Ghibli,deja de lado la fantasia y se centra mas en la vida cotidiana,en este caso a historia se centra en el estudiante de instituto Kenji Koiso, un genio en matemáticas,que gasta su tiempo en el mundo virtual OZ,un mundo de realidad virtual masivo simulado por ordenador,trabaja en el como una especia de asesor.Nada mas llegar las vacaciones de verano,Natsuki,una de las chicas mas populares de su instituto,en el 90 cumpleaños de su abuela.Lo que Kenji no sabe es que tipo de trabajo es..y se va a llevar una sorpresa..

Es solo una pequeña sipnosis ya que la pelicula va muchisimo mas alla,pero contar mas seria destriparla casi por completo.Hay momentos muy divertidos y tambien tristes y sobretodo de bastante tension.

HISTORIA:

Realmente buena,muy bien contada.Es increible el trabajo que hay detras para crear el mundo virtual de Oz.Al final la tecnologia puede llegar a ponerse en nuestra contra y queda bien reflejado en la pelicula como una "red social" te puede jugar una muy mala pasada.Por lo demas no es un alarde originalidad pero cumple bien.

ANIMACION:

Si digo que el director artistico es Youji Takeshige(El viaje de Chihiro y La princesa Mononoke) y que el diseñador de personajes es Yoshiyuki Sadamoto (Toki o Kakeru Shojo, Evangelion)ya lo he dicho todo.Estamos ante una obra maestra de la animacion alcanzando casi la perfeccion,de verdad,es un espectaculo verla hay innumerables detalles en cada secuencia y cuando entramos en OZ(un mundo en 3d)es increible.

SONIDO:

Para mi es quizas el punto mas "flojo".No tiene ningun tema tan epico ni tan magico de otras peliculas.No es una mala OST ni mucho menos pero creo que podria ser mejor.

PERSONAJES:

Muy buenos todos,y digo todos porque hay un monton xD:Se ve a lo largo de las 2 horas de pelicula como todos van cambiando,la timidez inicial da paso a el coraje y determinacion de Kenji,la forma en la que Natsuki ve a Kenji al principio y al final.En fin son muchos y no quiero hablar de todos ^^.

CONCLUSION:

Una pelicula que hay que ver si o si,de las mejores si no la mejor creada en los ultimos años.La animacion ralla a un nivel magistral,el mundo de OZ y la historia esta bastante bien.Hay gente que le ha decepcionado,a mi por lo menos no es asi.

Hay que verla! ;)

8.5/10 story
9.5/10 animation
8/10 sound
9/10 characters
9/10 overall
Garyuu's avatar By Garyuu on Mar 4, 2010

Right off the bat I realized that this looked a lot like the Girl Who Leapt Through Time. I quickly realized that this was much better IMO. This movie was more action, while the other was more slice of life. It definitely made this new movie more exciting to watch. Parts were pretty cliche, but it did not matter as much, because I thought it's good points made the bad parts forgivable.

If I had to compare this movie to another, I might compare it to War Games. Instead Summer Wars is crazier, has more interesting visuals. This world of OZ is pretty interesting, but makes no friggin sense. They do things later on that make no sense at all. It's like the Matrix, but you are just sitting in front of a computer screen. You don't actually go in this world. It's hard to describe, because it seemed like they were just making things up without trying to use any logic in it. It was fun though. You just have to not think much about it, and just have fun.

The acting was great in the movie. One things that elevates it, is the actual dialogue. In many animes they just talk differently from how people really talk. This is one of a small group of animes that did a great job at this.

Overall, it was a great movie. My top movie list still consist of only live action movies (I prefer anime series over live action series, and I prefer live action movies over anime movies), but this mvoie still did a good job.

8/10 story
8/10 animation
9/10 sound
9/10 characters
8.5/10 overall
jaycee's avatar By jaycee on Dec 11, 2010

Summer Wars is a great anime, but as it ended I was left feeling hollow. Was it because, like so many anime movies and series, the ending made absolutely no sense and called into question how I've wasted yet more precious moments of an all to precious life? Was it perhaps because I was sad it was over, like a good book you have to put away because you've finished?

Hell no. It was because Summer Wars was so good that any grumbling I have to say about it is going to be nitpicking or manufactured dislike.

Seriously; this was a great movie. Not just a great anime, but a great movie. I would recommend even to my wife, who's last exposure was a badly edited bootleg of Princess Mononoke, and who now thinks all anime is about giant slime monsters and lepers. I'm really not sure why you're even reading this--just go watch the damn movie. It's what, an hour and half? Put the computer down, call up a friend, and watch the movie. I'll still be here when you're done.

STORY

The story of Summer Wars was excellent, and quite enjoyable. Mind you, this was a movie involving an AI running a muck in some MMOG version of the internet, so about every fifteen minutes I had to grit my teeth to keep from complaining. This however is the curse of a programmer watching any sort of movie or television show, so I can hardly hold it against Summer Wars. I mean, I liked Lain back in the day, and that broke about a million rules plus left me wandering what I had done with 13 hours of my life.

ANIMATION
The animation is gorgeous. Scenes in OZ were rendered fantastically, as clearly being a digitally mediated experiencing, but not looking like some sort of cybershit from Code Lyoko. The colors were good, and the overall animation was pushing towards a more realistic vibe that I appreciated.

SOUND
Ah, sound. I have this category because it seems to be an important one, but I really never seem to notice. It was good, I guess? It didn't intrude, let's go with that.

CHARACTERS
Characters were largely believable, and their interactions led to easily half of the movie. The matriarch of the clan was a favorite, which is a bit of copout on my part, since she was clearly meant to be. There were several characters that were clearly meant as "generic 'good' family guy" and there was a tendency for each character to really embody only one character trait, but movies get a free ride on this sort of thing.

8/10 story
9/10 animation
7/10 sound
8/10 characters
8/10 overall
babyeinstein12's avatar By babyeinstein12 on Aug 22, 2010

Story

Ah, summertime. A golden period of sunshine, vacations, baseball games, and for many of today’s youth, a healthy (or unhealthy) dose of gaming. Among adults gaming has acquired a reputation mostly associated with bad grades, lack of self-discipline, and guns. Many of you who are reading this are probably grounded right now. Solution? Watch Summer Wars with your parents, and not only will you convince them of how this bastion of electronic entertainment will someday save the world, but you will also treat them to a heartwarming reminder on the importance of family values (which just might induce them to buy you that new Starcraft you’ve been eyeing).

Okay, maybe not the Starcraft. But Summer Wars blends cold technology with a warm family reunion to create a cinematically brilliant oxymoron. Battles rage on the computer screen, but lush green fields lie a head-turn away. Men are breaking into sweat and blood at their keyboards and just in the next room lunch is being made. It’s a juxtaposition that highlights the wonders of both worlds. How lovely the rolling mountains and cotton clouds look next to the chaos swirling inside the cesspool that is called the Internet! At the same time, lunchtime sounds laughable when compared to the vast ecosystem blaring within a fifteen-square-inch surface area. It’s clear: Summer Wars lives up to its name admirably. It is a summer flick almost at war with itself.

For a movie of about two hours, the time flies by, just like a summer vacation. At the end, you’re left thinking, “Aww, it’s over?” and yet you feel satisfied. The story exemplifies the good old beauty of linear storytelling, intertwining two parallel narratives into a durable, multi-colored piece of fabric. The substance of one adventure strengthens the other.

You will be hard-pressed to encounter a more relentless enemy than the one found online. Cyber-villainy is bad enough, but once the helpless outside world gets sucked in here, the sense of urgency skyrockets (or in the case of Summer Wars, it plummets down to earth). The conflicts broiling within a virtual space appeal to all senses of the viewer’s imagination; the battleground suddenly loses its limits. It’s equally epic to witness a high-octane fistfight, a high-stakes card game, or a high-IQ mathematical problem. When the virtual begins mixing with the real, the suspense becomes a veritable psychological melee; during the last third of the film, I was a mess of frayed nerves. Even when scenes cut back to the tranquility of rural Japan, the movie never loses its intensity. The motor underneath everything never seems to slow down.

What sticks with you in the end, however, are images from the film that flank the credits, drifting in and out of the black as if one were shuffling through photographs. Not one of them features the sterile white abyss of a technological utopia. The song “Summer Dream” strums out serenely and bittersweetly, and the photos could almost recall an altogether different era. It’s as if the Internet had never existed. All that remains are the tenderness of a loving family, a hearty meal, and the crooked-tooth smile of your grandma.


Animation

Like its older sister The Girl Who Leapt Through Time, Summer Wars boasts incredibly rich background art that render dusty bookshelves or kitchen pots and pans as the most beautiful things in the world. The level of detail is extraordinary, and the color choices perfectly embody the blooming sumptuousness and solidity of summer. Character designs have slightly improved, and while the nuance is still lacking, Summer Wars takes on a decidedly more slapstick approach to their characters’ expressions, keeping the tone lively and heightening comedic effect. The film’s handling of its characters transcends mere facial expressions, however; the animators fiddle with every scene to the deepest detail. In general anime works somewhat like a portrait, where a central figure dominates and minimal effort is applied to other items. Summer Wars, on the other hand, more closely resembles Renoir’s Le dejeuner des canotiers. Each item in the painting is a microcosm of its own. Especially in Summer Wars’ huge-family scenes, ten conversations are firing off at once; twenty people – scratching their heads, rummaging through their plate of food, rubbing their pregnant bellies, spitting over the table – they all move at once, but never at the same time.


Sound

As with the plot, the soundtrack holds in its hands two different kinds of fruit -- one being the sweet, lyrical summer strawberry and the other being the tangy, clean-cut lime. Summer Wars switches between the broad sweeps of a symphony to the mercurial compression of electronic music with the ease of biting out of the right hand or the left.

The voice acting gains its strength from its numbers; it reaches its most complex harmonies when multiple voices blend and clash. However, the renowned film seiyu Ryunosuke Kamiki gives a standout performance with his endearing, tempered rendition of Kenji. Sumiko Fuji’s interpretation of the grandmother also shines with its subtle mixture of strength and heart. I’ll admit that for Natsuki the rookie voice actress Nanami Sakuraba sounds like a rookie, but I cannot deny her integrity; the performance is not creative, but it fits the character well.


Characters

A film, as opposed to a series, is forced to craft its characters with the utmost efficiency, like the sushi chef who cannot cook his creation but garnishes it instead. Summer Wars, then, presents a palatable dish. It is important to remember that this anime is not a tone poem or character piece. There’s a reason the movie’s promotional posters feature not just two or three of its protagonists, but a motley crew of men, women, and children alike whose sheer body mass covers up most of the mountains in the back. Each family member serves his or her part with the utmost conviction; cast prevails over character. While none of us get to know Kenji, Natsuki, or the rest of the family particularly well, we are treated to delicious samples of their personalities, which combine to form the overall flavor.

If there does exist one ingredient that defines the plate, it takes the form of Grandmother Sakae, the family matriarch and a fearsome creature to behold. She serves as the flour in the bread, the thematic material that makes coherent the heap of relatives assaulting our senses. Rarely have I seen a character sculpted so excellently in so short a time.

9/10 story
9/10 animation
9/10 sound
7.5/10 characters
9/10 overall