At the moment, I’m currently watching a plethora of anime films, taking a break from Magi: The Kingdom of Magic. Those films include The Wind Rises(Review already posted.), Wolf Children, The Girl That Leapt Through Time, The Garden of Sinners, Children Who Chase Lost Voices, Jin-Roh: The Wolf Brigade, The Sky Crawlers, Hal, and Summer Wars. Out of those, I’ve completed The Wind Rises, Wolf Children, The Garden of Sinners, and now Summer Wars. The reviews for Wolf Children and Garden of Sinners will be up soon...ish, but having just watched Summer Wars, I wanted to take a break from my marathoning to write this review because it just had such an impact on me and I wanted to share this with everyone. Currently, our world is wracked with tragedy after tragedy and humanity is becoming more and more fragmented/divided as the days go on. Summer Wars was the movie that I didn’t know I desperately needed to watch to restore my faith in humanity.
The story of Summer Wars takes place in Ueda, Japan. A boy named Kenji, a math genius and moderator for OZ, is invited by his friend Natsuki to come to her great-grandmothers 90th birthday celebration. While there, he unknowingly decrypts Oz’s security and allows a rogue AI to take over Oz which controls practically everything in the world... using his account and thus framing him for the hacking and subsequent loss of major systems throughout the world.
(Spoiler Warning! Skip down to the next image if you wish to avoid them.)
This film really hits home for me. Summer Wars features the Jinnouchi family, a really tight knit family ruled by their matriarch Sakae Jinnouchi, Natsuki’s great-grandmother. Nothing happens without her approval. She is the rock that all members of the family flock too, even those considered to be black sheep.
And then Sakae passes away because Oz was down, preventing the one family member who had been keeping track of her medical condition from getting to her fast enough. This forms a crack in the foundation of the family as the women are content with mourning the loss of their rock, while the men scramble to find something to latch onto, forming a small rift between the two halves of the family. As the clock to a tragedy begins ticking down, it’s the will of their deceased loved one that mends the crack and brings the two halves back together again, including the black sheep of the family, Wabisuke Jinnouchi, the man who created the AI Love Machine that is currently in control of Oz, and they welcome him back to the table to eat with them. And then the entire family bands together to stand their ground against LM and prevent the tragedy that could have happened. But even this tight knit family wasn’t enough to stop it, but their union spoke to the hearts of millions of others around the globe who then joined them as one and so it can be said that the people of the world stood up to their shared oppressor and defeated him.
Even if it was only temporary, the world set aside its childish bickering, feuds, wars, nationalities, races, gender, none of it mattered to this connected world in this moment. They all set aside what made them different and joined their hands together as the family of Earth, of humanity. And that shook me down to my very core. With all that’s going on right now in the world, sometimes its hard to imagine anyone setting their petty squabbles aside even if the situation was dire. The whole world could be ending, but I have a hard time believing that people would rise up to try and prevent it. The population of the world is so fractured that it appears that hope is all, but gone. Yet this movie showed that hope always exists, even down to the last second. And its the bonds we form and the light of our hearts that will call out to others to do the same, and when the call is made, others will answer. Humanity is full of surprises, so perhaps it’s too soon to give up.
Outside of the online world of Oz, Summer Wars looks just like any other Mamoru Hosoda film. Th echaracters are drawn with minimal, but enough detail to make them stand out from one another. The animations are fluid and the background artwork is beautiful. Inside of Oz, everything is CG except for maybe the avatars themselves which may be purely 2D or a mixture of 2D and CG, can’t really tell sometimes. It’s beautiful none the less and the contrast between the real world and the online world is quite nice. It should also be mentiond that the scenes set in the real world have this sort of warmth to them, not sure exactly why I get that feeling, but it’s there.
The only downside is that when the camera pulls out, there isn’t much detail left on the characters. It’s like looking at a bunch of rough drawings that nobody even bothered to try and pretty up.
The soundtrack for Summer Wars is, for the most part, subtle. It’s background music, but it’s still nice to listen too. It’s towards the end that the music really stands out and gets your adrenaline pumping and puts you on the edge of your seat with tension until the very last second. The sound effects are great and on point. Every punch sounds powerful, ever car sound, everything is just good. No expense was spared.
Bonus points to the end credits song linked above. It followed the end of the movie nicely and I actually sat through the entire credits just to listen to it and have had it on repeat while I write this review. It’s so good and I have zero idea what they’re saying.
The Final Verdict
Summer Wars is an absolutely beautiful film that I recommend to everyone, both anime fan and non-anime fan alike. Show this movie to your families, to your friends, it deserves to be viewed by as many people as possible. It has a charm that will appeal to people of all types. On a scale of 1 to 10 I give it a 12. On a scale of trash to must watch I give it “Must watch before you die.” I cannot heap enough praise on this film and I can’t believe that I almost didn’t watch it because I didn’t think it would be this good.