Posted by psgels on 16 October 2009 with categories: Anime Reviews



Summer Wars is the latest highly anticipated movie from Mamoru Hosoda, the director of Toki wo Kakeru Shoujo. As expected, the movie comes with a lot of ideas, attention to detail and really attempts to innovate. It’s a very nice movie, however I didn’t like it as much as The Girl Who Leapt Through Time.

The movie basically focuses on two things: slice of life around a really big family who has come together for the birthday of its oldest member who owns a huge mansion. The other focus of the movie is some sort of science-fiction story in which the Internet has evolved into some bizarre world called “OZ”. This eventually gets hacked, and it’s up to our teen-aged lead to save the world from this threat.

And I’m sorry, but as a student computer science I just could not buy this premise. It’s utterly ridiculous and makes no sense whatsoever. While I agree that it achieves new heights in the fantasy-ish portrayal of hacking software, and I know that there’s something as artistic freedom, but this movie went completely beyond my suspense of disbelief as it turned the teen-aged leads in this movie into somehow the only ones who were able to save the world. Especially the finale hung together in a string of Deus ex Machinas.

I know I’m harsh, but this is a big-budgeted movie. Take Real Drive, released last year. It’s vision of the future of the Internet was much more creative, realistic, believable and explained, even though it also used a bit of fantasy in its premise. I appreciate the attempts of the director, you can see that he really tried, but he was too torn between creating a good story and appealing to the mainstream in this part.

Okay, so that was the bad part, now the good stuff: the slice of life. What I absolutely loved about this movie was the way the family was portrayed. Every single character was behaving realistically, even taking the ridiculous setting into account. The cast is incredibly large, especially for a movie, and the creators actually developed all the characters a bit throughout the movie. I especially liked the chaos in which a lot of things happened at the same time and everyone was doing something at the same time.

You’re definitely going to recognize the art style from Toki wo Kakeru Shoujo, and Madhouse really made sure to breathe life into every single character with some incredibly good and realistic animation. This slice of life makes this series really fun to watch. But yeah, compared to Toki wo Kakeru Shoujo, it just isn’t as powerful. The soundtrack is less impressive, and it really gets hampered by that ridiculous setting and superficial climax.

Storytelling: 7/10
Characters: 9/10
Production-Values: 9/10
Setting: 7/10

12 Responses

  1. Jaen says:

    Did you watch it in Japan or is it somehow getable?

  2. psgels psgels says:

    A korean subbed version has come out, so I watched it raw.

  3. Denizen says:

    I don’t think the concept was ever meant or intended to be realistic in any way – it’s meant to be a throwback to the times when you could depict the internet in crazy ways and not receive too much crap for it. So to see it get bashed for that enjoyable aspect is a bit disappointing.

  4. psgels psgels says:

    Denizen: if the lack of realism was indeed the only problem, then I indeed wouldn’t have minded it at all, but on top of that, it also just feels lazy. There’s no depth, the on-line avatars all look like pokemon-rejects and if you add to that that its only purpose is to have a bunch of teenagers save the world, it just becomes too much for me.

  5. olivia says:

    Ahaa – you should watch “Digimon: Children’s War Game.” You’ll see the parallel themes and issues…

  6. hayama says:

    yeah,its the same as the digimon movie…..its the same director after all.

  7. IcedTea says:

    Biased review.

    “And I’m sorry, but as a student computer science I just could not buy this premise. It’s utterly ridiculous and makes no sense whatsoever.”

    So everything have to follow your imagination? People have their own thought and the way to express it. If you don’t like it then too bad. Not everything you don’t like is the worst.

  8. Chan says:

    I’d actually say that you were way too generous. The very premise of this movie as well its story is a blatant rip off of the Digimon Movie Children’s War Game, except that Children’s War Game had the better overall story.

    You should review it next since you’ve already seen the first season.

  9. snic says:

    I really enjoyed the slice of life segments of the movie, but near the end, with the whole countdown thing, it just got really cheesy. Really. No casualties? Even after that huge crash? One thing I definitely got out of this movie: do not put all of your eggs in basket. It was still a good watch though.

  10. Allibaba says:

    I agree, this movie isn’t too spectacular. I guess its pretty good if you weren’t expecting much. The movie is pretty flat throughtout and the art is mediocre. Haven’t seen “The Girl Who Leapt Through Time,” hope that one is more interesting.

  11. Animegunghoooo says:

    I totally agree with this review…at first i thought he was being a little hard on this movie…but after i watched it myself i began to see what he was talking about……i mean the internet that was portrayed in this movie “Oz” if u will looked soo stupid…. and in the last fighting scene when the girls avatar gets help from the whole world…….she actualy cries…i mean how can the avatar cry…..when its being controlled by a keyboard…i reallly hated that part…….

  12. Disgruntled Monkey says:

    Regarding the comment (#8) about it being a ripoff of Digimon Adventure: Children’s War Game. Yeah well, since it was the same director I guess you’re right, he totally ripped himself off. Anyway yeah, there’s no question this movie required a real suspension of disbelief to enjoy, but if you can get past that, it was a really heartwarming story with amazing characters. Especially the grandmother, she was awesome.

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  • AidanAK47
    (Tuesday, Sep 1. 2015 04:17 AM)
    I played and finished blood omen and I don’t really hold the same opinion. The hit detection was clunky, there wasn’t any real puzzles besides go press the switch and the whole thing felt very liner. But that would have been fine if it wasn’t for the greatest problem of all. The loading. Good God that killed it. It loaded when you pressed start, loaded when you moved to a new area, loaded while changing forms. It just killed the pacing.
  • Bam
    (Tuesday, Sep 1. 2015 03:47 AM)
    the original LoK:Blood Omen was a pretty expansive RPG tho. Nosgoth felt like a lived-in world with quite a sprawling story and landscape. You can equip weapon, armor, item and magic from an interesting set, and it was one of the few vampire games were you could use all of their famed forms: bats, wolf, specter and even a human disguise to talk to town-folk who will remain dead and come back as ghosts after slain.
  • Bam
    (Tuesday, Sep 1. 2015 03:44 AM)
    @Aidan: well the company went bankrupt, so whatever they were doing didn’t work out for them too well. Eternal Darkness had decent gameplay imo- the sanity meter was a pretty cool concept. They tend do expect too much and overload their battle mechanics which aren’t as robust as they think.
  • AidanAK47
    (Tuesday, Sep 1. 2015 03:24 AM)
    Bloody hell. I was going to quit at Soul Reaver 2. And you tell me the game doesn’t even end there?
    Silicon Khight seem to me like a company who tend to go for story over gameplay. Same went for eternal darkness. Shit gameplay, good story. It’s a pity that sequel kickstarter didn’t get funded.
  • Bam
    (Tuesday, Sep 1. 2015 02:35 AM)
    Time doesn’t do PS1 era 3D games any favors either. The never-before-seen scope and sprawling worlds end up feeling claustrophobic now, and low polygon models with no texture don’t get any better with age. The style, story and voice-acting still remain commendable tho.
  • Bam
    (Tuesday, Sep 1. 2015 02:29 AM)
    @Aidan: That’s generally what happens when you break relations with the original creators (Silicon Knights of Eternal Darkness and MGS:Twin Snakes fame) and then overshoot your capacity so much that you end up breaking an already reduced game straight in half; the story of which doesn’t get resolved until LoK:Defiance.
  • Bam
    (Tuesday, Sep 1. 2015 02:24 AM)
    I don’t think I’m invested in any anime/manga franchise’s story as much as Berserk; which probably sucks cuz we have a pretty high chance of never seeing it concluded. I speculate that if we don’t get to an important juncture before the next ‘break’ then the series will end up unfinished.
  • Bam
    (Tuesday, Sep 1. 2015 02:19 AM)
    @Kaiser: yeah it’s nice to see that Miura still got it, that was some of the kinetic battles that he’s known for. It’s all good to have him meeting his deadline schedules too; he might be back on the horse for real this time.
  • AidanAK47
    (Tuesday, Sep 1. 2015 02:17 AM)
    As someone who used to play this games demo on a PS1 and loves the design of the character and story…I think it’s fair for me to say that Legacy of Kain Soul Reaver kinda sucks.
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Tuesday, Sep 1. 2015 02:07 AM)
    I expected more of the chrono crusade author but the plot has now descended into a mess.

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