Anime Vice News

Summer Wars VS Digimon: Our War Game

A comprehensive comparison

This week, Mamoru Hosoda's latest anime masterwork, Summer Wars, came out in Blu-Ray and DVD. I thought this would make an excellent topic for this new article I call Thinking Out Loud
    
 Summer Wars/Our War Game Fan-Art
 Summer Wars/Our War Game Fan-Art
Any of you who watched the video review Tom and I recorded for this site know that I gave it a 4.5/5 rating. If you have not seen the video review, I suggest you go watch it before you continue reading. Watching the movie might also be ideal, since I will be relying on light spoilage. During the review, I heavily defended Digimon Adventure: Our War Game (Digimon: Bokura no War Game) as the original source for most of Summer Wars' plot. Most people are unaware of this, so I decided to show you a comparison of the "Hosoda Wars". 
 
The two movies I'm comparing, Summer Wars and Digimon: Our War Game, have a nine year difference and yet a lot of aspects are alike. The first thing I want to talk about is the setting. Digimon, a pre-established franchise, is already based off a digital world where the existence of these creatures called Digimon inhabit. Using the Internet as the setting for Digimon is not unexpected.Summer Wars, on the other hand, is set in a realistic present time setting where people use an advance section of the Internet called OZ. According to the movie, OZ is what social networking will be like in a couple of years. The users can create an avatar that can be used for entertainment, business, gaming, shopping, and even health purposes in Japan's day-to-day life. The look of the Internet and OZ is quite similar also:  

While digimon are separate entities than their human partners, their connection to the people in the "real world" is very similar to the avatars in Summer Wars' users. In both movies when the Internet connection resulted to be a problem to continue navigating the internet, the avatar and the digimon "powered down", even though the digimon have a will of their own.  
 
The main villain of both movies is a virus that wrecks havoc for the inter-webs. Digimon's antagonist is a virus/digimon hybrid called Infermon (named Diaboromon when digivolved) who is eating the internet's information that causes streetlights, cell phones, computers, and other electronic appliances to go haywire. Summer Wars' antagonist is not all that different. The virus is called Love Machine created to take over avatars and eat OZ's digital information as a weapons test drive. Since OZ is connected to pretty much everything, the malfunctions causes chaos for all of Japan. Both villains create impossible situations for the protagonist that not only create repercussions for the safety of the world but makes for a fascinating visual-intake of Internet battles.  

The reality of the situation is that while both villains cause chaos, nothing compares to the repercussions that lead to the climax. I guess it is my duty to call it out: Spoiler! The viruses end up sending a nuke (Our War Game)/satellite (Summer Wars) hurdling down to Earth, with the coordinates set for the protagonist's location. This is the moment in both movies when we worry for the safety of the characters even more as both villains set a countdown for impact.  


The final battle does also bare similarities in both movies. I won't give it away, but in both cases there is a point in the movie when the heroes seem helpless against their combatant. This is the Internet of course, and nothing is kept a secret in the World Wide Web. While this is happening, the rest of the world is watching through their electronic devices. In Our War Game, the overload of onlookers create for a perfect liability and an asset. The e-mails sent in favor of the heroes is brings enough strength to the table to defeat the villain. Summer Wars does not depart too much from this idea. Rather than using e-mails, the heroes are helped by the overload of user's avatars in favor of helping defeat Love Machine.
  

 Summer Wars/Our War Game Fan-Art
 Summer Wars/Our War Game Fan-Art
Let me make it clear, I am not saying that both movies are identical to each other. The plot of each one is taken into different directions while still maintaining the similar plot devices to move the story forward. The biggest difference between them is the large cast both hold. Digimon uses pre-established characters that people can not automatically jump in and understand. Summer Wars on the other hand, introduces a complete new cast of characters, all being developed in front of the viewers eyes. Digimon, having 50+ anime episodes that allowed the character development needed does not accomplish what Summer Wars establishes in a 90 minute film. 
  
Is one better than the other? I don't think so. These two movies are the result of an exceptional work of double vision. Nine years ago, Our War Game showcased the characters I know and love. From an outsider's perspective the movie alone would leave a lot to be desired for. As an addition to this large franchise this is the perfect fit. Summer Wars is a contemporary movie that, as we have mentioned before here on the site, would be the best way to introduce anyone to anime. In the end both of these fun-filled, action-packed family films carry that Hosoda stamp that are sure to ensure an exceptional entertainment experience. 
 
-- Geo (sora_thekey) long time user of the Whiskey Media Sites, and 24/7geek! -- Follow me on Twitter: @sora_thekey
Nightwolfon Feb. 17, 2011 at 10:31 a.m.
Can't I like both.
TWWKon Feb. 17, 2011 at 11:53 a.m.

I'm glad you wrote about this - you did a great job doing a side-by-side comparison, particularly of the screen shots.  When I first saw a preview for Summer Wars, I kept thinking, "Digimon!"  And upon watching the film last night, for the first time, the climactic Oz scenes were obviously inspired by Hosoda's earlier work on Our War Game.  Not that it's a bad thing - that whole set of three Digimon films were excellent, and Our War Game was the most genuinely emotional; it also stood the best on it's own.  Both films, as you mentioned, are excellent.
AURON570on Feb. 17, 2011 at 1:32 p.m.
i totally remember watching that Digimon movie in theaters as a kid, good call dude!
LordXavierBritishon Feb. 17, 2011 at 1:45 p.m.
Now I just want to see Summer Wars EVEN MORE.
Hadoken101on Feb. 17, 2011 at 2:37 p.m.
Were some of the Digimon movies combined one big movie in the theaters? Because reading the synopsis of the first few make me think I blacked out and they're all blending together in my childhood memories.
Hablerieon Feb. 17, 2011 at 4:13 p.m.
@Hadoken101: The movie released in the US and UK are the first three digimon movies combined, I believe.  
 
Destinyheroknighton Feb. 17, 2011 at 4:39 p.m.
Both are aweome :)
GrandMarshalon Feb. 17, 2011 at 4:46 p.m.
there both sooo good you shouldnt have to pick between them, summer wars may introduce its charactors but the digimon movie had a way better soundtrack
sora_thekey moderator on Feb. 17, 2011 at 6:30 p.m.
@Nightwolf: @GrandMarshal: This isn't about picking one or the other. I mentioned in the last paragraph that they are both really good. This is more a comparison rather than a competition. 
 
@TWWK: Thanks! 
 
@Hadoken101: @hablerie: That's right. In the US the first three movies were combined to be made into a 90 minute full length movie. They were really astute when dubbing it too.  
A new character that was introduced in the third movie and the dub managed to mention him in the second one, so that they would be tied together. 
Xeiphyeron Feb. 17, 2011 at 11:27 p.m.
I literally just made this comparison a few hours before this was posted. Crazy!
Kyleon Feb. 18, 2011 at 8:09 p.m.
I had never heard of Summer Wars, but as soon as I saw this article comparing it to Our War Game, I ran out and bought it. It did not disappoint at all. 
 
While Summer Wars definitely tells a better story, I think both movies have their strong points. Like @sora_thekey mentions in the article, Our War Game almost cheats a bit with the fact that it involves characters that you are already familiar with and fond of. I would have like to see a little more action inside OZ from Summer Wars though. 
 
Summer Wars has definitely earned a place in my heart next to Our War Game!
Suzakuon Feb. 18, 2011 at 9:58 p.m.
Just wanted to say, both of these films are actually inspired by the movie WarGames, a critically acclaimed and Academy Award nominated thriller that was released in 1983. It's about a teenage hacker (played by a young Mattew Broderick) who accidentally initiates a nuclear war simulation in a goverment supercomputer, which results in a missile scare that nearly leads to World War.
 
 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/WarGames
Thevamp25on Feb. 18, 2011 at 10:28 p.m.
isnt summer wars directed by the guy who made digimon? or no?
Kyleon Feb. 19, 2011 at 1:29 a.m.
@Thevamp25: Yeah, it's the same guy.
geirron Feb. 19, 2011 at 2:42 a.m.
I had no clue they were made by the same person, but I personally don't like any kind of -mon 
I loved Summer Wars however, and so did my girlfriend.
audio_defecton Feb. 19, 2011 at 11:46 a.m.
This was a really great comparison, very well thought out too.
ZombiePieon Feb. 19, 2011 at 12:26 p.m.
I vote for Pat Buchanan...no wait I MEAN AL GORE! I WANTED TO VOTE FOR AL GORE!!!!
 
 GOD DAMNIT!
 GOD DAMNIT!
SilverZeoon Feb. 19, 2011 at 9:52 p.m.
Need to see that movie ASAP!
Sighphion Feb. 20, 2011 at 12:31 a.m.
Heh, when i saw the trailer for this back when it was coming out in the US, December i think, i just sat in front of my comp for a few seconds cause from what was shown it did look a lot like that Digimon film so i decided to wait to rent it or something. Forgot about it till i saw this and bam! Not only does it follow the same track but it's from the same director. I guess the dude must've thought that the cool story was wasted on some silly tv cartoon or something and wanted to give it another more serious attempt.
misterz173on Feb. 21, 2011 at 9:46 p.m.
Personally, I prefer Digimon.

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