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.