As much as the Great British weather tries to convince us otherwise, summer is finally on its way. And so what great timing to post this review of an animated film that I really should have watched sooner: Summer Wars!
Kenji Koiso was on a summer trip with his friend, Natuski to visit Natsuki’s family with her when he gets into a sticky situation involving *SPOILERS the fate of Japan* when Oz, the sort of cloud-based computer system on which the entire world runs is hacked by a beastly AI system-turned-terrrorist.
So, Summer Wars is a great story with lots of ideas knitted together which really gave me a strong idea of the world in which the characters of this story lived. The ‘bigger picture’ is illustrated pretty clearly and it felt like I was more immersed in this world than most settings in anime’s I’ve watched. Despite the fact that the whole concept surrounding an entire world essentially on Oz was very futuristic, they made it very believeable and relatable, especially in an age where more and more businesses are changing to being internet-based.
Story and characters
The cast is very big and so no-one – not even the protagonists – are particularly developed over the course of the film. Yet they all still felt like characters, and they all felt unique, so for what the film was trying to achieve, it didn’t really lose out. They all felt quite realistic and the whole ‘family setting’ that they showed felt surprisingly real too, from the kids running around to the heated debates across the dinner table.
The story played out very well, with (what I felt was) the main themes being family, unity and working together for the greater good carrying across nicely throughout. They took the abstract ideas surrounding Oz and explored the implications of it being hacked which gave a strong feeling of continuity to the storyline. This helped it feel more like this was a national emergency, not simply a problem for the characters involved, which is not necessarily a problem in anime in general, but I feel most series don’t carry this across so well as they could.
Animation and Sound
The soundtrack to this film is decent and worked well accompanying the movie, though is pretty average on its own apart from a few of the cooler tracks where they stray from the usual orchestral style often used for films like this one. It felt quite Ghibli-esque in some parts but is also quite unique in others. However it didn’t particularly stick out in any way for me. That isn’t to say it was bad, it just wasn’t fantastic either. I would point out, though, that alongside all of its fairly average tracks, there are of course a few really good ones.
The animation is really nothing to be sniffed at. Despite being five or so years old, the animation is solid and, as in most shows with good animation, shines in the fight scenes. The colour palette was nice and bright, and the background/world designs were really nice to look at, especially where the virtual reality of Oz is concerned. They didn’t hold back on all the cool stuff there was to look at in Oz, and it really felt like a big dreamscape. Seriously, just go watch the movie already.
You probably aren’t surprised at this, but I’m reccommending this movie. Mamoru Hosoda did a great job with this one, and I honestly can’t fault it much apart from literally one line that is said at the end. One line.
I’m giving Summer Wars a:
7/10 for characters
8/10 for story
9/10 for art and animation
6/10 for soundtrack
… and an 8 for personal enjoyment.
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