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.
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.
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.
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.
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)