You know, I actually watched the shitty Korean-raw+overlaid subs before, but I really didn’t think that gave me the proper experience to talk about the show until now that the Blu-Rays are out. Finally managed to catch the movie is its proper glory and I must say…. Summer Wars is a movie that gets better with a rewatch than just judging it from one go.
Of course, like DarkMirage, the whole subplot involving the virtual world of OZ and Hollywood Hacking is definitely not the high point of the movie nor is the subject of the movie itself. Summer Wars is all about family and the unbreakable bonds between its members, no matter how badly one can become, family will always there to be behind you.
(spoilers inbound after the jump)
It is a topic that really strikes through the heart and despite myself I did find myself teary-eyed at the touching scenes, like when Kenji was getting arrested and he confessed to Grandma Sanae how he truly enjoyed his time with the Jinnouchi family because it was a direct opposite of his house where both parents are working and barely had time for him. Or when Sanae “gave away” Natsuki to Kenji via Hanafuda before passing away shortly after the next morning. And when Sanae’s will was found and finally read, galvanizing the spirits of everyone to beat the Love Machine once and for all. These are truly some deeply-constructed writing and it really shouldn’t be taken at face value, but rather examined with the “family and bonds” theme in mind.
This is such a badass fanart of Grandma Sanae.
As for characters, Grandma Sanae is truly the heart and soul of the movie and I really enjoyed her a lot. She truly is the image of an ideal grandmother, to the point of being Mary Sue-ish, but for a movie like this, her character is the glue that holds everyone and everything together, which really does make her the central point of the family and the movie.
It’s not something I can say about the “leads” though, supposedly being Kenji and Natsuki, since it has been correctly pointed out that their character development is rather shallow. But then, the true main character of Summer Wars is really the Jinnouchi family; thus as such I feel that is justified now overall in the movie.
On to the criticisms, I believe that Summer Wars’ OZ construct subplot was really one of the weakest parts of the movie and that is mostly to do with how far way their image of the Internet is to the current real world. Basically OZ is like Second Life only more powerful and real, it’s a very distilled and simplified essence of what sci-fi imagined the Internet would be like in another 10 years time back in 2000.
But if you look at the big picture, OZ is really a manifestation of the second major theme of the movie, modernity vs tradition, old vs new, etc etc. There’s a lot of small hints of those around the movie, for example how people are still having less time for their families despite having OZ which supposedly supports virtual workplaces, how systems still go haywire and require real people to attend to them, how Sanae’s phone is still a rotary model and she manages to solve the crisis over Japan singlehandedly, how Kazuma inserts a subtle jab about LCD’s having slow response times and asks for a CRT instead and finally how the showdown at the end was done with Hanafuda. I don’t think I will elaborate more on this, but it’s something many people kinda miss at their first watch.
Included this because I thought it was cute.
Basically, Summer Wars is a good movie, but it’s best enjoyed with 2-3 watches. One will certainly be quite distracted by the whole virtual world shebang at the first watch, but on the second watch, it’s easier to concentrate on the really important things of the movie. In the end, I’ll give it a final rating of 7.5 out of 10.
P.S. It’s pretty fucking disturbing how many h-doujin/fanarts of Kazuma exist. Can someone tell me why he’s so popular?