Summer Wars (2009)
Directed by Mamoru Hosoda
Starring Voice Actors: Ryunosuke Kamiki, Nanami Sakuraba, Mitsuki Tanimura, Sumiko Fuji
Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
The film tells the story of Kenji Koiso, a timid eleventh-grade math genius who is taken to Ueda by twelfth-grade student Natsuki Shinohara to celebrate her great-grandmother’s 90th birthday. However, he is falsely implicated in the hacking of a virtual world by a sadistic artificial intelligence named Love Machine. Kenji must repair the damage done to it and find a way to stop the rogue computer program from causing any further damage.
I figured it was time to expand my horizons & watch some anime that’s not from Studio Ghibli for a change. I love Studio Ghibli! I had a little blogathon last year & I reviewed all but one of the Hayao Miyazaki Ghiblis plus Grave Of The Fireflies (you can find the links to all those reviews HERE). Well, I’ve watched some more now so I’ll be doing a “Ghibli Week” at some point soon.
Anyway, I’ve chosen two non-Ghibli anime films for my 2016 Blind Spot Series: Summer Wars and Akira. Everyone has of course heard of Akira so I figured it was about time that I check it out (it’ll be a while – that’ll probably be my December Blind Spot). I didn’t know much about Summer Wars but I’d recorded it off of TV ages ago after really liking the sound of the above synopsis. It’s a bit like Japanese anime Ready Player One! Or Snow Crash! I always love movies about artificial intelligence, plus virtual reality and hacking films are usually loads of fun too. Then, of course, I looked up some of the images from the movie online & was sold on finally watching it.
This movie is a lot of fun. I can’t say it tops any of the Studio Ghibli films for me, though. Well, no – it does actually top some of the non-Miyazaki films like From Up On Poppy Hill & Whisper Of The Heart. What’s really great about it is that it truly is two movies in one. You have the real-world story of Kenji Koiso and the family of the girl he has a crush on plus you of course have the story involving the virtual world of OZ, which is a huge part of many people’s lives (as is the OASIS in Ready Player One).
I preferred the virtual world of OZ (as I knew I would – it has such a great look to it) but was surprised at just how much of the real-world story was in the film as well. I’d say that the story involving Kenji’s girlfriend’s very large extended family (including her grandmother, who is a strong character I really liked) probably makes up more than 60% of the film. The real-world story was also entertaining, though, and I did enjoy it even if it did drag a little bit at times while I waited for them to get back to the world of OZ and the pretty damn cool-looking A.I. called Love Machine.
This movie is very “me” so I was expecting to absolutely love it. I did enjoy it quite a bit but felt somewhat disappointed overall. I think I probably just hyped it up too much in my mind. Also, I’ll admit that I watched this dubbed and, believe me, I far prefer to watch Japanese anime in Japanese with English subtitles as a lot of the “magic” is lost when you see something like this in English. I stupidly assumed that what I’d recorded was in Japanese. Damn. Well, I liked it enough to pick up the DVD if I see it cheap as I’d really like to watch it in Japanese as well. I’ll also now definitely watch this same studio’s The Girl Who Leapt Through Time (which I DID pick up on DVD years ago!). That one will be on my Blind Spot 2017 list and, based on Summer Wars, I’m looking forward to that one as well. I’m happy that I finally watched an anime that’s not from Studio Ghibli and would be happy to watch even more. I’ll gladly take any recommendations as my knowledge of this genre is limited!
My Rating: 7/10
I liked this one too, it wasn’t amazing or anything but it was good. I would highly recommend that you watch Wolf Children. It’s pretty great.
Yay! Mel! I’m glad you saw & liked this one too. 🙂 Yeah, I agree it was just “good” – my expectations were mega high so I wanted it to be a bit better. I’ve seen Wolf Children mentioned a few times so it’s on my list. I’ll move it up higher on the list now. 🙂
You’ll really like it, I think. I look forward to the review!
Glad you enjoyed it! 🙂
You should also check out Mamoru Hosoda’s first feature length film “The Girl Who Leapt Through Time” – it is truly wonderful! And “Wolf Children” * is sublime too.
Other anime films you need to see are:
Ghost In The Shell
*5cm Per Second
*Journey To Argatha
*Garden Of Words
*Letter To Momo
*Time Of Eve
Vampire Hunter D
*Welcome To The Space Show
* – I’m sure there is a site around here with reviews of these titles… 😉
I do have The Girl Who Leapt Through Time on DVD so I’ll watch that. 🙂 And I’ve seen Wolf Children mentioned a few times so it’s been on my list for a while – that’s a definite at some point too. When I had a little look at links on Amazon, some of the above came up & I liked the look of 5cm per Second. I’ve seen half of Ghost In The Shell but fell asleep. Lol. (Sorry! Will try again). I was hoping you’d come by for this one as you’re the anime expert! 😉 So thanks for the handy list! 🙂 I’ll (slowly) work my way through some of these and will check out your reviews to see which sound best. I like a bit of anime – the biggest problem is there not being such easy accessibility where I don’t have the money to really buy many on DVD but they’re not shown on TV or on things like Netflix (although they seen to have expanded the anime section on Netflix a bit). At least Film 4 supports Ghibli like crazy! 🙂
You’re welcome! Glad to help spread the word of anime! 🙂
You know there is always LOVEFilm who have a huge selection of anime (and films/TV shows) you can rent! 😉
Is that the Amazon one?? I was thinking about it. But Netflix HAS improved since I first got it!
Yes, Amazon bought out LOVEFilm a couple of years ago. I don’t like streaming and prefer having the physical DVD/Blu-ray and since I’m an avid film watcher I get through around 8-10 films a month/2 discs at a time! 🙂
Sounds like a good one. I haven’t heard of it, but I do like Ghibli and other anime so I might have to give this one a try.
It is! It’s good & it’s a fun film. You should definitely check it out if you like the sound of it. 🙂
Glad you liked it (but Whisper of the Heart is still better)! I do really enjoy the visual aesthetic and the emphasis on family, but this is my least favorite of Mamoru Hosoda’s films. Definitely see The Girl Who Leapt through Time and Wolf Children (and I have yet to see his latest film The Boy and the Beast).
I’ve already done a top anime list, but I heartily recommend Children Who Chase Lost Voices (I think it’s titled Journey to Agartha in England), The Castle of Cagliostro, Cowboy Bebop The Movie, and Patema Inverted. I believe Agartha and Patema are available on YouTube.
Thanks! Yeah… I did like this more than Whisper of the Heart. 😉 Wow – thanks for all the suggestions! Now you mention them, I’ve heard of all of them except for Patema. I’ll get them all added to my list to see! 🙂
I happened to see a trailer for this the other day. I wasn’t very convinced… but I’m happy to hear you enjoyed it, because I actually already have it on Blu-ray anyway, so fingers crossed it was just a bad preview.
Hmm. I happened to watch a trailer on IMDB after seeing the film and the trailer was awful!! It had a really annoying American voiceover. I don’t think it sold the film at all! Hopefully that’s the trailer you saw. The movie is better than that. 🙂
I don’t specifically remember a voice over, but it was English-language so probably was that one. Hopefully, anyway!
Well, I hope you do like it when you see it! 🙂
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