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
    (Monday, Mar 2. 2015 01:29 AM)
    Late to this one but
    @BrendanVGC, that’s kinda tough. See there is a huge amount of very different manga that fall under the category “Seinien” You would kinda need to give us a more focused genre to work with here. Like horror, action etc.
    And pretty sure death note is shounen.
  • Emma
    (Sunday, Mar 1. 2015 07:35 AM)
    Damon I am more used to seeing in a drama or comedy role I reckon rather than an action hero.
  • Emma
    (Sunday, Mar 1. 2015 07:24 AM)
    Eric Bana is so underated =<
    I want to see more of the man on film.
  • Bam
    (Sunday, Mar 1. 2015 05:52 AM)
    The story would’ve been much more anchored and believable if the social imbalance wasn’t portrayed so heavy-handedly. It makes no sense for every house in Elysium to have a healing-bed that completely restores you and they dint bother to put a single one on Earth to keep the working class happy and healthy. I mean, c’mon now.
  • Bam
    (Sunday, Mar 1. 2015 05:49 AM)
    Yeah the action sequences were the best parts of Elysium. I don’t k ow, I just don’t feel Matt Damon in these roles anymore and I hope they stayed with Eric Bana like the rumors were hinting; that probably would’ve made it a more personal story.
  • Emma
    (Sunday, Mar 1. 2015 04:55 AM)
    Its been too long since I saw district 9 to have an accurate opinion on it.
  • Emma
    (Sunday, Mar 1. 2015 04:54 AM)
    I can remember giving higher points to elysium when I saw it first because I really needed/wanted to see an R rated action movie. But apart from Sharlto Copley as the villain it was in hindsight fairly miscast, the ending was quite poor and the script could have been improved on, I liked the robots/action scenes however.
  • Bam
    (Sunday, Mar 1. 2015 04:20 AM)
    I have a feeling that the movie’s gonna suck tho. District 9 was good, Elysium was a mess and Chappie looks like a Short Circuit ripoff with nothing new to add. I have respect for Blomkamp since he started as an animator and probably has respect for the medium and a good eye for aesthetics, by he’s doing progressively more conventional stuff as his career goes on.
  • Emma
    (Sunday, Mar 1. 2015 01:41 AM)
    Ha, so I wasn’t wrong when I came across that film Chappie and thinking that the robot resembled Briareos from appleseed, the director’s a fan of Masume Shirow’s work apparently.
  • Bam
    (Sunday, Mar 1. 2015 12:16 AM)
    @Brendan: That completely hinges on your personal taste, but Vagabond is one of the best Chanbara ones around, with superb art, fast pacing and entertaining storyline. Berserk should go without saying as it’s a codifier for many Seinen conventions, but Vinland Saga is another great series which is in similar vein. Biomega and Drifters are also worth a look.

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