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Summer Wars (Sama Wozu) Reviews

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Super Reviewer

November 1, 2013
A rogue artificial intelligence wrecks havoc on "Oz," an omnipresent virtual reality network of the near future, seizing control of most of the world's computers; a young math genius is the only hope to save the infrastructure. Decent juvenilia with outstanding psychedelic animations in the nonsensical but beautiful cyberspace battle scenes.
Lewis C

Super Reviewer

February 23, 2011
Summer Wars is another excellent movie from Madhouse and Mamoru Hosada, the director of The Girl Who Leapt Through Time.

Like THWLTT, Summer Wars is a science fiction movie with heart. Instead of the humorous, poignant tone of the previous movie, Summer Wars focuses on family bonds and the inherent potential for mayhem that is an unavoidable part of our incredibly connected, increasingly virtual society. It's an easy to follow story that should have a lot of appeal for a broad audience.

The dubbing and animation are wonderful, and the fact that so much of the events play out in the virtual world provides a lot of opportunities for some eye-catching visuals. The music is fine, but not quite up to the fantastic score of The Girl Who Leapt Through Time.

I slightly prefer THWLTT, but both movies are fully recommended and I've given them the same score. They're wonderful films, even in comparison to the amazing movies that have been coming out of Studio Ghibli for years. I can't wait to see what Hosada is working on next.
Ariuza k.
Ariuza k.

Super Reviewer

December 30, 2010
Hosoda Mamoru's thrilling and surprisingly touching "anime" movie Summer Wars is this generation's War Games, a cautionary tale that while warning of humanity's over-reliance on technology (especially the new emerging cellular, virtual, internet and personal/portable technologies) also celebrates the human spirit by showing the importance of family and how those bonds triumph against any and all adversity however insurmountable. Hosoda once again delivers the goods with a timely, winning, intelligent, and very poignant anime/cartoon that will appeal both to adults and kids.

The story begins rather innocently - high school computer geek Kenji (voiced by Kamiki Ryunosuke) and his classmate Takashi (voiced by Yokokawa Takahiro)spend their free time doing grunt coding/programming work to help support the global social network system known as "OZ". "OZ" isn't just a place for people to meet and socialize, play games and do research but is also tied into virtually everyone's daily lives (every single business, government, public service including the military are linked together -- think a Super World Wide Web). One day the high school's most popular girl, Shinohara Natsumi (voiced by Sakuraba Nanami) visits their classroom to ask a favor. Natsumi has to go back to her hometown in Ueda Prefecture to attend an annual family reunion and wants one of them to accompany her as support, as she says these gatherings are often uncomfortable. While both volunteer, it is timid and bashful Kenji whom she picks to go with her. Kenji soon realizes that things aren't exactly what they seem as he soon learns that the real reason Natsumi asked him to go with her is so that they can pretend to be a couple and to reassure her relatives that she is doing well in Tokyo. Natsumi wants to especially impress her influential grandmother, the resilient and authoritative Jinnouchi Sakae (voiced by the wonderful actress Terashima Junko) who is not only the matriarch of the family but who seems to know just about any and everyone in town.

As with most family reunion films, the Jinnouchi Clan is quite an eclectic band of people including your atypical oddball relatives, noisy aunts and uncles, bratty grandchildren and mysterious cousins. One of those relatives is Natsumi's 13 year old cousin Kazuma (voiced by Tanimura Mitsuki), a social misfit who has been bullied at school in the past but who has found Internet fame via his online fighting alter ego and avatar "King Kazuma" (think a animorphic version of the "King of Fighters" character Terry Bogard). Another relative, the enigmatic Wabisuke (voiced with cool smoothness by Saito Ayumu) has also come back for the reunion after cutting ties with the family years earlier and who now lives abroad in the US. Much to Kenji's chagrin, he learns that Natsuki has always had a school girl crush for her handsome "uncle".

The real story however unfolds when Kenji inadvertently breaks the security code/password for the "OZ" network (Kenji just so happens to be a mathematical prodigy who is able to crack complex computer code in his mind in a matter of minutes) thus allowing a super computer virus/artificial intelligence program called "Love Machine" to infect the network and cause all sorts of havoc both in the virtual world and in the real world (Love Machine uses OZ to crash major city energy grids, divert military satellite orbits, arm nuclear war heads and takeover/hack the information and Avatars of billions of OZ users). As Love Machine gets stronger and brings the world to total chaos, Kenji, Takashi and Kazama struggle to save the OZ network while Natsumi and her grandmother Sakae gather their friends and family together to help save their community from all the technological mayhem.

As with many of the recent Pixar films, Hosoda's film succeeds at transcending the "cartoon" medium to deliver a story that is just as thrilling and poignant as any live action film.

At the heart of "Summer Wars" strength is its likable cast of eccentric characters who make the audience care for them. The characters of Kenji, Sakae, Wabisuke and Natsumi are all very well developed and it is a credit to the talented voice actors that portray them that they are able to flesh these characters out so well and make them work on so many levels.

Okudera Satoko's brilliant story celebrates the advancements that have been made in computer, internet and communication technology while also criticizing the over-reliance on those technologies to take care of our complete needs. As with Pixar's recent film "Up", Okudera's story celebrates the human spirit of individuals especially our elders and shows that despite their age, they bring a wealth of experience, world knowledge and tenacity that is absolutely invaluable.

Enough can't be said of Hosoda's inventive direction and storytelling. As with his first anime film the "Toki O Kakeru Shojou" Hosoda has a knack for telling interesting and engaging stories. Never once is "Summer Wars" at all boring. Hosoda is able to mix both comedy and drama well and in fact there are also some genuinely tearful scenes that were really very touching.

The animation work by the famed Madhouse group is stunning and beautiful to behold. While not as elaborate as some of the computer generated works of Pixar they are still quite effective at creating a believable world - from the lush backgrounds of the Ueda countryside, to the ultra detailed city scenes of Tokyo, to the imaginative virtual world of "OZ" they were able to do it all. Sadamoto Yoshiyuki's character designs were also quite good and he gave each character a unique and appealing look which seemed to match their personality well.

Summer Wars is not just a great "anime" movie, it is just a great movie period and one that will have you appreciating your relatives and extended families however odd they may be.

Super Reviewer

December 13, 2009
Mamoru Hosoda's Summer Wars is a fine specimen of Japanese animation.At first glance, Summer Wars seems like a comedic summer adventure in a rural setting; however, there is a pretty high degree of technology involved in the story. For the first half an hour, it is difficult to see where this picture is going, but the lively characters and rapid striking dialogue keep things amusing and moving along. The final hour is the ace as it puts the "wars" in Summer Wars, the "a" in avatar, and the "hanafuda" in hanafuda.Visually, this picture is pleasing. Both of the major settings, the Jinnouchi family household and the virtual OZ universe, are engulfing. The OZ universe in particular is dazzling. The characters look good as usual and so do the avatars.The voice acting successfully matches the looks of the characters and there are a lot of them to go around. It is difficult to match names to faces, as they are all unveiled in a matter of a minute, but it becomes easier to follow as the characters with more integral parts step up to the plate.Summer Wars really does have a lot to offer for a Japanese animation. It excels in many departments, which makes for an enjoyable 110 minutes. "Koi Koi!"

Super Reviewer

February 2, 2012
In "Summer Wars," Kenji works as a part-time programmer with his friend Sakuma for OZ, a worldwide operating system/social network. He takes a break when he is invited by Natsuki to attend her great-grandmother's 90th birthday party. But he is horrified when she tries to pass him off as her fiance.(On the plus side, he turns an adorable shade of red.) That's not the worst thing that happens to him that weekend as OZ is corrupted and crashed by an outside source that is traced to him. So, he does the one thing he is supposed to when confronted by a computer problem which is to find the nearest kid to explain it to him.

Even with its share of banalities and contrivances, "Summer Wars" is still an enjoyable animated film. While the sequences inside OZ are much more impressive than the ones set in the real world(and it would have been fun to have explored OZ a little more), the emotional core of the film is the extended Jinnouchi family that has more than its share of members employed in public service with the movie definitely in favor of collective action. In this way, you could say that Japan is not only a country that respects its traditions(as one family member recounts the family's military battles) but one that also looks towards the future. Just don't keep all of your eggs in one basket.
Steven V

Super Reviewer

November 16, 2010
Summer Wars is distinctive in it's looks regardless of which world is on screen at the time. The settings, backgrounds and characters are very similar to those used in Toki wo Kakeru Shoujo, however there is far more diversity in terms of design in Summer Wars. One example of this is skin tone, with several characters being tanned to various degrees. Alongside this is the actual design of the characters themselves, and it's truly nice to see a show that takes a more realistic approach to this. The characters literally do come in all shapes and sizes, in both the real world and the virtual one, with no two characters (in the real world), sharing anything more than a resemblance that close relatives would have. The one aspect of the design that did surprise me though, was that of the virtual world, but not in the way that most people would think. The CG used in the movie was extremely well handled, and I loved how each avatar was individual, yet also reflected the person in real life. The one area where Summer Wars really excels is in it's wealth of characters. While most of the focus is on Kenji Koiso, a good amount of time is spent observing Natsuki Shinohara's extended family, and it's this aspect of the movie that makes it such an enjoyable movie to watch. Summer Wars is a very enjoyable romp in the realms of absurdity and, while it may not be to everyone's tastes, it does have the benefit of being relevant to a degree.
August Seria
August Seria

Super Reviewer

May 3, 2011
Fun, adventure and romantic comedy. But, a little corny at times.
James B

Super Reviewer

March 8, 2011
Summer Wars is an amazing bit of sci-fi, comedy, and action rolled into one. I particularly enjoyed its family-bonding elements. The Jinnouchi clan seem very realized! The sci-fi element is something, I fear, could actually happen in real life if we let technology become too powerful in our day-to-day lives. Mamoru Hosoda manages to meld all this into a neat 2-hour package without sacrificing story, humor, or heart! Well done!

Super Reviewer

April 14, 2011
It's really hard to compare the animation in this movie to a single movie it really has two complete styles. The real world is center around Natsuki's 90 Year Old grandmother's castle. It reminded me of Ponyo-2010 and My Neighbor Totoro-1988.

The virtual world has the visual feel of WII Resort, but mixed with Facebook and i-google functionality. The pivotal character is Kenji a homebody math wiz who is hired by Nasuki to pretend to be her fiancée for her grandmothers 90th birthday party as a ruse to get her family obligation off her back.

The real world is mainly is populated by Nasuki's eccentric family who can trace their roots back 500 to a warlord that had fighting spirit and never gave-up even though he knew the odds were against him. This is the repeating theme in the movie.

Although visually successful I was having a hard time settling into the vibe of the English dubbed movie, I through on the subtitles and it was more engaging dialog. Its really becoming recurring irk of mine when the dialog is "dumbed-down" on the dubbed track.

The real world animation is top notch, the OZ animation same as everywhere else. The success of the movie rest on buying into the characters. I did not catch the subtle relationships between characters in the first dubbed watch after reading the subtitles it was good but you miss the visual splendor. the third time was the charm.
April 7, 2014
Really disappointed in this, being from the director of Wolf Children and The Girl Who Leapt Through Time. Just a really odd film. Maybe it translates better with Japanese culture, but I just couldn't get into this at all. Didn't get into any of the human relationships, just seemed a lot thinner than most of the Japanese animated films I've seen.
September 9, 2010
Strange and only gets stranger, but it was enthralling. Interesting plot, it was not really what I was expecting, but it turns out to be better than I thought.
January 27, 2013
It's cute and funny. Summer Wars isn't hard to digest or give you much to think over, but that's ok.
June 10, 2012
A bit too paprika for my liking, but the whole premise of saving the cyber/real world during a remote family meeting was quite entertaining. Also liked the supercomputer.
December 22, 2011
It's always fun to watch summer-themed teenage animes like these, especially when it is imbued with original concept such as the interconnectedness of virtual world and reality... It's a lovely watch!
November 18, 2011
Anime is such a unique form of art. And yes, it is most definitely art. Of course the Japanese style is animation, but it has such a distinctive flair to it that attracts many fans. There are also those Americans who are generally unfamiliar with it. I for one am not well versed in the anime world; however I can openly admit that I greatly admire it. Anime has a style that affords itself so well to particular stories that it almost seems a natural fit between the story and style. "Summer Wars", with its modern, sci-fi, cyber thriller plot, is a good example of this successful marriage.

The film opens with a bit of background on the program "OZ", which allows users to create avatars to interact with other members and do pretty much anything. Think "Surrogates" meets Facebook. Members can even pay their taxes in this program! Well Kenji is a high school math whiz who works part time for the program. But when his crush, Natsuki, asks him to do a job for him, he accepts, but little does he know that his decision could bring the end of the world, literally. Natsuki takes Kenji to her family's home, where her grandmother is celebrating a birthday. Fearing she will die soon, Natsuki has recruited Kenji, unbeknownst to him, to pose as her fiancé, a job Kenji may not be up to. But what happens next is even crazier. Kenji receives a text from an unknown number, asking him to solve a complicated math formula. When he does, the world of "OZ" comes under attack from an AI bot called "Love Machine". The whole family must scramble to save the world.

Whew. Just typing that made me realize how much stuff was going on in this movie. I even left some stuff out, but it is all important. That is just a testament to how great of a concept for a movie this is, especially an Anime film. It is a taut cyber thriller with interesting characters and sub plots, like the romance between Kenji and Natsuki. With the ever evolving world, it is not impossible to foresee a program like "OZ" to develop in the near future. We already have Facebook, which has millions of users. Perhaps the real-life simulation effect of "OZ" is a fair bit further off, but the concept of being able to do real things, like pay your taxes, through the program seems reasonable in the near future. Technology is always evolving and it seems like at an exponential pace.

What "Summer Wars" does so well is it sets everything up. The characters, the program, the whole situation is so well formulated that when the heavy stuff goes down, we as the audience understand how and why, though the thriller aspect of the film is also handled quite well, keeping us on the edge of our seats where applicable.. And in addition, we care what happens to these people. It is a fun adventure to spend time with this family and its strange cast of characters. There are times where the film gets somewhat derailed, like with the high school baseball team, but looking back, "Summer Wars" was a unique experience and one worth having. It has so much going on, it almost takes a minute to sit back and reflect on its brilliance in order to find it.
September 30, 2011
I was honestly shocked to find how well-received this film was. Yes, it is relevant and yes it handles very modern themes in light of all this digital integration sweeping the world, but goddamn is it contrived. The protagonist is so unlikeable it's absurd, every sudden plot twist is incredibly forced and contrived and the relationships are out and out phony.

It's a film about second life and how linking your phone number to your facebook will cause a tactical missile to strike your home. That's the message. Take it to heart, I guess.
January 13, 2011
This movie was so amazing. There where parts where i almost broke out in to tears it was so touching. I kind of reminded me of the beginning of the Digimon Movie.
December 30, 2010
After the brilliant "Girl who leaped through time", I expected a bit too much from this next movie by Hosoda. I was disappointed that Summer Wars shares very little of the former's sophistication or suspense.
August 25, 2010
It was quite good. It reminded me a lot of Digimon: The Movie -- in a good way! It was very hardcore and sometimes unbelievable but still a lot of fun. Great characters. I must say though, overall I liked The Girl Who Leapt Through Time better. But this was still great.
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