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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  • ratsgnoF
    (Wednesday, Jul 1. 2015 03:48 AM)
    How would that be toxic?
  • Raggers
    (Wednesday, Jul 1. 2015 02:31 AM)
    From a critical perspective it was rock solid. Directing, writing, soundtrack – all were excellent. A great cliffhanger for this arc of the teenage condition.
  • Raggers
    (Wednesday, Jul 1. 2015 02:27 AM)
    ratsgnoF: thanks, may skim through those later.
    Personal reaction to the finale: welp. Things are a complete mess, Yukino x 8man would be a toxic relationship and Yui x 8man would be far healthier, potentially even good.
  • ratsgnoF
    (Wednesday, Jul 1. 2015 01:43 AM)
  • ratsgnoF
    (Wednesday, Jul 1. 2015 01:41 AM)
  • ratsgnoF
    (Wednesday, Jul 1. 2015 01:40 AM)
    Here are some of the monologues that weren’t really shown in the anime. They’re very well written. https://kyakka.wordpress.com/yahari-light-novel/volume-10/first-memorandum/ https://kyakka.wordpress.com/yahari-light-novel/volume-10/second-memorandum/
  • Raggers
    (Wednesday, Jul 1. 2015 01:11 AM)
    Ah, then yes, almost certainly. I’d go as far as to expect the author also spends significant time with teenagers to capture their mentality so well.
    I imagine it’d be easier for teens to get emotionally invested, but I’d also say there’s a deeper level they wouldn’t really ‘get’ until older. We can evaluate what we see with a hindsight teens cannot have, so we aren’t worse off for being older.
  • Emma
    (Wednesday, Jul 1. 2015 12:58 AM)
    Ah yes, the author being like hachiman, thats what I was getting at.
  • Emma
    (Wednesday, Jul 1. 2015 12:57 AM)
    While watching yahari, one other thing went through my mind “Y’know were I a teenager watching this I can only imagine just how much/even more I’d be getting from this”
  • Raggers
    (Wednesday, Jul 1. 2015 12:49 AM)
    I’ve only seen first eps for both, but I have hope for Euphonium also being decent on the character front. Plastic Memories looks like it could easily turn out badly and the premiere gave no cause for hope. And I’ve yet to find someone defending it, so unless you’re bored I’d give it a pass.

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