Summer Wars Impressions.

Summer Wars

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.

Summer Wars

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.

Summer Wars

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?


  1. omo Said,

    March 8, 2010 @ 1:48 am

    >> P.S. It’s pretty fucking disturbing how many h-doujin/fanarts of Kazuma exist. Can someone tell me why he’s so popular?


  2. anon Said,

    March 8, 2010 @ 2:09 am

    >> P.S. It’s pretty fucking disturbing how many h-doujin/fanarts of Kazuma exist. Can someone tell me why he’s so popular?

    brown shota

  3. Ritz Said,

    March 8, 2010 @ 2:27 am

    Would you suggest watching this or reading the manga adaptation first?

  4. DKellis Said,

    March 8, 2010 @ 2:50 am

    I read somewhere before that if we really want to go back to the days where people spent more time with their families, the first thing we need to get rid of is artificial lighting.

    Anyway, personally I felt that the movie was obviously trying to tell a message, in that the Message was just on this side of preaching. To Hosoda’s credit, it never does cross the line into outright harangue, and most of the time when I was about to go “yes, I know, get on with it“, the movie goes to the OZ sequences for some entertainment value.

    Of course, the tech bits of the story are somewhere around the Star Trek level of soft sci-fi. So it goes.

    I suppose I keep feeling it’s not for me because I’ve heard the themes before in other entertainment options (not just anime). Off the top of my head, I know the Modern Vs Tradition thing was done pretty much to death in Persona 4 (and I was bored by it then already, so I probably picked it up somewhere even earlier); I assume it would be a Huge Deal in Summer Wars if one has not thought about the concept prior. Different strokes and all that.

  5. DKellis Said,

    March 8, 2010 @ 2:57 am


    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.

    Back in 1992, I think, with Neal Stephenson’s Snow Crash. Avatars, Metaverse, so on and so forth.

    (Yes, I know the basic roots of the ideas probably come from William Gibson’s 1984 Neuromancer, like the basic roots of most popular high fantasy come from Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, but you know what I mean.)

  6. Skribulous Said,

    March 8, 2010 @ 3:55 am

    I seriously take offence at you comparing Lola Sanae to a Mary Sue. In fact, they portrayed the connections between family and friends, how the whole of the community is intertwined with the lives of its members, and the importance of social networking.

    Mainly, I took offence since Lola Sanae reminded me of my own lola (who passed away many years ago, bless her), who was also the glue that held our family together though hard times, through thick and thin.

    Even implying Lola Sanae had Mary-Sueish qualities is an insult to women like my lola, strong-willed women who are the heart and soul to their families.

    But I guess it’s a culture thing, that some people will never understand. Wabisuke realized this too late.

    Summer Wars is a beautiful film. I sincerely hope localization will do it justice.

  7. cmlim Said,

    March 8, 2010 @ 5:53 am

    “It’s pretty fucking disturbing how many h-doujin/fanarts of Kazuma exist. Can someone tell me why he’s so popular?”

    If you thought Kazuma was a girl before he spoke,there’s your answer.Or somehow the prospect of a young,growing tanned shota was never noticed by the Japanese before…….

    Anyways,nice family film is nice.Definitely needed to be watched by everyone.

  8. Chachacha Said,

    March 8, 2010 @ 10:05 am

    I saw half the trailer for this (I think) when I went to a midnight showing of a Korean movie, and I never got the name of the movie. But that top image looks so familiar, especially the boy in the striped shirt and now I’m just completely curious.

    Gonna give this a try. (That fanart is just badass)

  9. remm Said,

    March 8, 2010 @ 10:23 am

    Interesting, I just rewatched Summer Wars, and yes, the family theme gets better the second time, but I did like the scifi aspect of the movie. Whenever the internet gets represented in such spectacular way I interpret it as that being the way people imagine what happens in a medium with little visual spectacle

  10. Wrathkal Said,

    March 8, 2010 @ 10:47 am

    Talk about traps… I guess it’s because of the facial structure.

    But there are two doujins for Natsuki, and one of them is translated.

  11. Haesslich Said,

    March 8, 2010 @ 12:54 pm

    Speaking of traps, how about Dance in the Vampire Bund…? Like a cross between Mizuho and Mariya.

  12. Yuribou Said,

    March 8, 2010 @ 2:45 pm

    I watched Summer Wars on the plane over to Japan in October and I have to say I liked it less and less as the film went on. I really liked the first part with the family and the love story and such, but when it came to the end the plot was so cliched it really put me off watching it a second time. Especially the bit where blood leaks out of his nose.

    Although it really made me want to learn how to play Hanafuda.

  13. Kaisos Said,

    March 8, 2010 @ 7:03 pm

    I actually preferred the Digimon bits, since I found the human cast other than the grandmother to be incredibly boring, but I realize I’m in the minority here.

  14. Yue Said,

    March 8, 2010 @ 8:16 pm

    just out of curiosity, which version of the movie did you use for the rewatch Kuro? I don’t believe any decent subbers have taken this movie yet last time i checked.

  15. DmonHiro Said,

    March 8, 2010 @ 8:20 pm

    This is exactly like the Digimon Movie : Our War Game. nuclear missle? check, virtual reality? check. Enemy multiplies a huge number? check. last second head bashing? check. Missile winding up in water? check. colorful designs for the virtual reality parts? check.

  16. Lights Said,

    March 8, 2010 @ 8:28 pm

    @Yue: I’m guessing those sub files (.ass or .smi) that was floating around was put on top of the RAW that’s out.

  17. DKellis Said,

    March 8, 2010 @ 9:51 pm

    Going by the comments, we have proponents for both “The sci-fi bits sucked, the family bits were awesome!” and “The family bits sucked, the sci-fi bits were awesome!

    Does this count as success or failure on the part of the movie’s creators?

  18. Bill Said,

    March 8, 2010 @ 10:06 pm

    Koi koi! is awesome

  19. Aki-fan Said,

    March 12, 2010 @ 7:40 pm

    I was a little disappointed when they decided to use a CARD GAME (?!) to decide the fate of humanity.

  20. Grimmer Said,

    March 13, 2010 @ 3:54 am

    “Going by the comments, we have proponents for both “The sci-fi bits sucked, the family bits were awesome!” and “The family bits sucked, the sci-fi bits were awesome!”
    I belong to the former.
    I admit that I enjoyed the overall animation, background art and 3D art… and I absolutely LOVED the human drama, social interactions and occassional mellow atmosphere…
    but the sci-fi parts were so freakin’ over the top.
    I could only get annoyed by the simplicity in which everything gets portrayed…sure in most cartoons that portray ‘boring’ things like networks and the overlaying internet, you get all awesome sorts of interaction (e-mails become tangible, you can ‘fight’ with computer viruses,…(not to mention the ominous fire wall which always ends up being an impenetrable wall of fire (I could actually approve of it if it were portrayed as a castle with moat and drawing bridge :p))

    You can drag me into the concept that there’s a silly looking world out there similar to Second Life (altough I read on Wikipedia the creator used some obscure Japanese Second Life-ish thing as inspiration) which is being taken as Serious Business…but the idea that hacking into it involves anything more than a boring ass terminal, lots of programmer sweat and soda pop (and the occasional breaking into real life facilities) is just absurd (especially when they start involving avatars engaging in battle.) That’s the kind of downplaying that you’d expect from Western studios catering to 12 year olds…anime has got a more adult viewerbase in Japan…they should have the balls to approuch themes like these with some degree of seriousness and respect.

    In retrospect this turned out to be a bit of a sad rant…sorry..:p
    In the end I did really enjoy the movie…I suppose it just could’ve been *more*.
    Either way I’m sure it’ll end up being one of the brighter anime-related experiences this month/season.

  21. Cliche Said,

    March 14, 2010 @ 10:41 am

    err, Wabisuke is seen mashing away at a keyboard in terminals as he’s trying to remotely dismantle his AI.

    The closest they get to graphically portraying anything you could call hacking, is when they’re using the supercomputer to terraform the game world into a giant trap.
    Although I’d assume Sakuma was using his knowledge as an OZ maintenence worker to that end.

    ‘Love Machine’ likes to play games, so if it’s going to use its root access to take over people’s accounts, it has fun making a spectacle of it.

  22. Aeon Said,

    March 18, 2010 @ 9:01 am

    @DmonHiro Mamoru Hosoda was the Director for that Digimon film, as well as this, so no surprise.

  23. Summer Wars | The Fool Said,

    March 19, 2010 @ 12:52 pm

    […] another review. Go here. No screenshots yet, my only version of the film has hard coded subtitles and is very […]

  24. Manga Therapy Said,

    November 24, 2010 @ 1:00 am

    I caught the English-dub premiere this past weekend and I thought it was a great movie.

    Yeah, Oz is like a crazier version of Second Life. The movie really hints at people taking more responsibility and not rely on technology so much.

    I wrote about the movie here:

    I wonder if we have a world like Oz, then how are people are going to view themselves and others?

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