Summer Wars User Reviews

Summer Wars is an anime movie in the Summer Wars Franchise
Write a Review 5 user reviews Average score of 9.6 / 10 for Summer Wars
Summer Wars - Reviewed Reviewed by SamFury on June 11, 2011. SamFury has written 27 reviews. His/her last review was for Humanity Has Declined. 86 out of 86 users recommend his reviews. 3 out of 3 users found this review helpful.

Vitals

Summer Wars
Movie
Genres: Comedy, Sci-Fi
Produced: Madhouse Studios, VAP, Yomiuri Telecasting Corporation, FUNimation Entertainment, Kadokawa Shoten, Warner Bros.

Review

 
Sometimes otaku just wanna have fun. Summer Wars is just that, absent are the heady themes and philosophical underpinnings many movies aim for. Not to say that it lacks any sort of characterization or depth of plot, but these are secondary to the ideals of summer: emotional zephyrs of love and fun. 
 
Summer Wars introduces us to the virtual land of Oz, or as one of my friends eloquently put, 'Facebook on Speed, Crack and Ex while smoking a fat blunt'. In more eloquent terms it is a global online platform that features many of the things that we do in the world, from shopping, part-time jobs, and even filing taxes. Governments and all forms of big business have their presence in this virtual world with a subscription bigger than World of Warcraft , a perfect place for a little viral mischief.
 
The war in the movie's namesake refers to a battle between the denizens of Oz and their real world counterparts and an A.I. named Love Machine. It has all the trappings of a coming of age story, following a few likable characters as they grow and mature in the face of a seemingly invincible threat. But interestingly enough the writers were clever enough to pay homage to Campbell's characteristics of a hero's tale: an unassuming boy that's taken to a different land, a women that guides and acts as a mother figure, and a call from fate that even his unassuming nature cannot ignore. Through it all the hero achieves what he wants most, finding a home with the people he loves. It's a bare bones skeleton, but it's these timeless tropes that make Summer Wars instantly palatable and gives it a tight structure that keeps the pacing in check. Throw in a feel-good cast and bit of romance and there's the code for an incredibly entertaining adventure.
 
The art reflects this atmosphere, colored with a bright palette and generous use of sprawling vistas of the verdant countryside and the clean virtual world. Everything exudes a childlike charm. The animation, handled by Hiroyuki Aoyama (Previous works include The Girl Who Leapt Through Time and Steamboy ), is excellent as well, with some impressive use of CG within intense battle scenes. One of the most memorable moments is a fight within Oz where Love Machine throws a flurry of random objects resembling rainbow confetti as he is being chased. It's a dizzying but dazzling experience that Summer Wars ’ animation replicates time and time and again. Character designs for the Oz avatars are imaginative and colorful while the more plain real world designs serve as an excellent foil for the digital side.
 
Summer Wars ’ sound design is just as superb as the art direction. The soundtrack is an eclectic mix of both classical and modern influences. Orchestral pieces swell with their simple harmonies, while the electronic and techno based songs give Oz some edge. Voice acting is top notch as well, with seiyuu never giving into over dramatization of the more involved scenes. Also fair to note that the recently released Funimation dub did the series justice, as not once did the timing seem off, or the flow seem broken.
 
Overall, this film was a delightful journey for me. It never did more than it was asked to do, and sometimes that's fine. It's a highly watchable movie and is a great movie for those new to anime. While it can be said it lacks anything distinctive, its level of polish and attention to detail more than makes up for it.
 
Now many comparisons have been drawn in forums, chatrooms and articles like this to the similarities between the Digimon Adventure: Our War Game and Summer Wars. While both these films have similar art styles and plot devices, they are completely different beasts. Its a whole different article to explain the differences, but I implore you to enjoy Summer Wars for what it is: a light romp through a not-too-futuristic imagination where our first kiss is a hop, skip and global apocalypse away.
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