With a fantastical fusion of a traditional Japanese setting and a large virtual world, Summer Wars grabs the viewer from the get-go and pleases the senses all through to the end.
Directed by: Mamoru Hosoda
Starring: Ryunosuke Kamiki, Nanami Sakuraba
Opens February 25, 2010
Distributed by Encore Films
Kenji (Ryunosuke Kamiki) is an awkward and geeky seventeen year old who takes up a request from his high-school crush – Natsuki (Nanami Sakuraba) – to accompany her back home to rural Japan and act as her boyfriend to please her 90-year-old grandmother.
He is immediately amused by the quirky mix of characters of her large family. Meanwhile, he receives a mysterious text message containing a string of numbers, and he solves them, mistaking it for a mathematical equation. Apparently, solving that equation allowed a hacker to breach the security of an online city, OZ, and the traffic and healthcare system in Japan plunged into chaos, as millions of users are interconnected via that cyber world.
Director Mamoru Hosoda (of The Girl Who Leapt Through Time) stroke a brilliant balance between the thrilling technical aspects of OZ and the nuance of characterization in Natsuki’s huge but adorable clan.
From the terrifying creation of the Love Machine – the malicious A.I. terrorizing OZ – right down to the quiet blooming of morning glories in the Japanese countryside, Wars is a treat to watch.
One of the film’s central themes of humanity being controlled and restricted by the worldwide web is carefully realised, and this thread blends well with the theme of family love.
Do bring along your Kleenex, as a story arc concerning the grandmother and an adopted child will surely move even the hardest of hearts.
Summer Wars has the potential to appeal to both otaku and mainstream audience, just like what Spirited Away did for the genre of anime. With a harmony of strangely lovable characters and a storyline that hits at the heart of the present society, this film is a sure recommendation.
Writer: Wilson Ng