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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  • Emma
    (Sunday, May 24. 2015 05:48 AM)
    Ashura was an excellent example of how to through anime illicit and emotional response in an honest, non-melodramatic way.
  • Emma
    (Sunday, May 24. 2015 05:46 AM)
    @Bam: I’d be more than happy to take a look at some of those shorts anytime.
  • Bam
    (Sunday, May 24. 2015 05:44 AM)
    @Emma: there’s a lot of European animators that got active in the last 10 years or so that are really reinvigorating their animation scene, and every now and then I get introduced to some fabulous shorts.
  • Bam
    (Sunday, May 24. 2015 05:40 AM)
    @Emma: no I don’t really mind gory ‘for the fuck of it’ violence, I even like it in some grindhouse type of works, but I just don’t think it’s always effective as a shock factor. Live-action is the most sympathetic for obvious reasons, but there are animated works that do elicit a deep response. Probably because of circumstances but also the details of the in-between animation, which can induce certain feelings of disgust.
  • Emma
    (Sunday, May 24. 2015 05:39 AM)
    *here and there
  • Emma
    (Sunday, May 24. 2015 05:35 AM)
    @Bam: I really wish there was more arthouse anime now to give some kind of a balance to everything thats out these days.
  • Emma
    (Sunday, May 24. 2015 05:33 AM)
    Now I like my exploitation every so often, but yes Bam I really do wish that adult and mature storytelling could be better associated with truly, more pure mature themes.
  • Emma
    (Sunday, May 24. 2015 05:25 AM)
    I get choked up over Bergmans cries and whisper and Autumn sonata, I look back on a work by Key and Jun Maeda and wonder, think of how silly it looks to me now.
  • Emma
    (Sunday, May 24. 2015 05:24 AM)
    I also find it easier to get an emotional response from a honest drama, live action film, largely due to the real people doing the acting. Sometimes you get an actor whose just that good too…
  • Emma
    (Sunday, May 24. 2015 05:22 AM)
    I’ve gotten my odd emotional reaction here from anime and manga but a lot of the time it feels like the jump scare in a generic horror movie, I got shocked but I felt minipulated afterwards it wasn’t genuine, the same goes for some anime/manga drama when it takes a melodramatic turn instead of a bleak, honest one.

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