Monday, May 12, 2014
Summer Wars (2009)
Similar: Sword Art Online, The Matrix, but also not really.
Summer Wars follows Kenji Koiso as he travels to a friends house for a birthday party. In the midst of festivities, a virus hacks into the virtual world known as OZ that functions from everything to gaming and social media to infrastructures of various countries.
Summer Wars is a wonderful example of what Hollywood is not doing. Last week I praised Pacific Rim for being different from what it usually expected but quality anime movies seem to be the norm. Hayao Miyazaki is brilliant and there is an abundance of anime that are completely different. Summer Wars seems to be even above that.
The animation is fairly standard from what you see of today's cleaner, more colorful anime but is still very nice to watch:
source source 2
What is interesting is the use of history. Kenji's friend, Natsuki, is from the (fictional) Jinnouchi family that was famous for standing up to the Tokugawa clan in 1615. The family house is the setting for almost the duration of the movie giving reality a fixed point while the conflict in OZ takes place throughout the entire system. The Jinnouchi family is huge, providing 20-some named characters that appear almost all the time.
Beyond all of these, Summer Wars stands out because of the pacing. It's slow. The beginning is actually very slow. You follow Kenji and Natsuki actually having to travel to get to the house, Kenji trying to remember all of the relative's names, and various dinners before the trouble in OZ even starts. And it is refreshing. They packed a lot of people and dialogue into the slower parts to keep it interesting and use creative ways to show the interactions between reality and OZ.
Summer Wars is rich with Japanese culture and elaborates ideals of family and being who you are. I highly recommend this movie for anyone of all ages and genres. It's not on Netflix but is fairly cheap on Amazon.