"The worst things in this world are being hungry and being alone."
"Technology is only as good as the user."
Summer Wars is a 2009 anime Science FictionandSlice of Life film. The film focuses on a timid eleventh-grade math genius named Kenji Koiso who has been falsely implicated in the hacking of a virtual world and, with the aid of a classmate's extensive family, must prevent the real and computer-simulated worlds from colliding. It was produced by the Japanese animation studio Madhouse and was directed by Mamoru Hosoda.The project was first announced without a title at the 2008 Tokyo International Anime Fair, and the first trailer of the film was released in April 2009. Audience interest was fueled primarily through word of mouth and Internet publicity. Two manga adaptations of the film were published ahead of the film's release in Japan and South Korea. It was nominated for the 2009 Golden Leopard award at the Locarno International Film Festival. FUNimation acquired the distribution rights to the film, and has set it up with some of their biggest names in ADR dubbing. FUNimation also set up a theatrical release in select cites starting in December 2010, and a DVD and Blu-Ray release in February 2011. It was gunning for an Oscar nomination, which it failed to get.The film is similar to the same director's earlier work, the Digimon feature film Our War Game (2000), released in English as part of Digimon: The Movie. The premise of an internet virus causing real world problems is similar and The artistic design of The Metaverse is shared between both films, depicting the virtual realm as a white void decorated with floating two-dimensional shapes in which all characters have red outlines, as well as with "Superflat Monogram", a Louis Vuitton promotional video also directed by Hosoda.It has a manga spin-off: Summer Wars: King Kazma vs Queen Oz, a prequel which focuses on Kazuma.
Absurdly High-Stakes Game: At the climax, a game of Hanafuda is played with avatars as currency. If Love Machine wins, it plans to use a hijacked satellite as a ballistic missile to blow up a nuclear plant, causing untold collateral damage.
Affectionate Gesture to the Head: Kazuma gets this around 4 times during the Third Act, twice by Mansuke, once by Kiyomi, and, at the end of the movie, once by his dad.
A.I. Is a Crapshoot: Love Machine, a privately created AI who escapes from the army and starts a war with the real world. Subverted in that it was released intentionally, and was following its programming the entire time.
Badass Grandpa: Mansuke (Kazuma's grandfather, filling this requirement) taught Kazuma (and thus King Kazma) everything he knows about martial arts, attacked Love Machine (by this time an extremely strong martial arts master) by himself to buy Kazma time to recover, and he has a NINJA SQUID for an avatar. He does it all on a Nintendo DS!
Bare-Fisted Monk: King Kazma fights bare handed and so does Love Machine after he transforms.
Kazuma breaks down after being defeated by Love Machine a second time feeling like he failed to protect his mother and unborn sister.
Big Fancy House: Despite Kenji's first impression, it's all that remains of the family's wealth.
Big Good: Sakae is the matriarch and the cornerstone of the family. If Love Machine started a war with the Jinnouchi clan then she is the Commander in Chief. This role arguably going to Kenji after Sakae dies.
Birthday Episode: More like a birthday movie, as the family gathers for Sakae's birthday.
Birth-Death Juxtaposition: The scene of the family mourning Sakae's death begins with a shot of her body, followed by a shot of Aunt Yumi breastfeeding her baby.
Black Sheep: Wabisuke, who is the illegitimate child of Sakae's late husband, and who ran off with much of what family money they had left to try and make it big in America.
Blood Knight: Love Machine loves competitions and takes on any challenger.
Blue with Shock: Kenji when he found out that the math problem he solved was Oz's 256-digit decryption code.
Bratty Half-Pint: The younger kids. Part of the reason Kazuma loses his first fight with Love Machine is because they're dicking around with the computer during the fight. Then (in the manga at least) have the nerve to say "Aw, you got hit!" Yeah, that tends to happen WHEN YOU'RE DISTRACTING HIM.
Breakout Character: Kazuma, along with his avatar King Kazma. They get their own spin off manga.
Break Out the Museum Piece: When everyone's cell phone and internet access becomes unreliable, 90-year-old Sakae breaks out her trusty old dial phone and gets in touch with people through an address book and old-fashioned land lines.
Butt Monkey: Shota gets mocked and hit by the others constantly.
Card-Carrying Villain: Love Machine. Lampshaded: "Has bad guy written all over him." Probably a bit of self-awareness on his programmer's part. Something of Truth in Television - black-hat programmers have fun with malware designs.
The Cavalry: Towards the end of the movie Natsuki challenges Love Machine to a cyber card game in which the stakes are her avatar and her family's versus the over 400 million the virus has claimed. The game goes well for awhile, but Natsuki is momentarily distracted by the clock and loses a critical hand. She doesn't have enough accounts left to place the minimum bet, and all hope seems lost... until a horde of people from all over the world give her their accounts so that she can cover the bet. A very nice twist on this trope in that the Cavalry is saving the day by putting themselves entirely into the hero's hands — far from taking the glory away from the hero, these people are giving Natsuki what she needs to win one last hand with her own skills.
Chekhov's Gunman: Kazuma, who we see fighting other avatars earlier in the movie. He repeatedly fights Love Machine cyber-physically and is responsible for giving it the Falcon Punch of a lifetime.
Chekhov's News: There is a news report in the beginning about a satellite hurtling towards the Earth, but will land safely. After everything has gone down, the satellite has been hacked and is now hurtling towards the Big Fancy House everyone's living in.
Convection Schmonvection: Averted. When installing a supercomputer (intended for a cooled server room) in the family's home during a heat wave, they pack it tight surrounded by ice and seal the room to keep heat from the outside from seeping in. Even that doesn't work, thanks to Shout and even then, Shota himself had this trope in mind by moving the ice from the alcove to Sakae's bedroom to keep her corpse from decomposing in the heat.
Cool Big Bro: It's implied that Kenji becomes this to Kazuma by the end.
Cool Old Guy: Mansuke, who taught his reclusive gaming grandson martial arts to protect him from bullies.
Cool Old Lady: You do not pull a fast one on Granny Sakae. The only reason she died is because Love Machine's chaos had disabled Mansaku's heart monitoring equipment while she was sleeping.
Cry Cute: Kazuma after King Kazma is defeated by Love Machine the second time around.
Curb-Stomp Battle: Kazuma's first attempt to stop Love Machine with King Kazma devolves into this due to it absorbing other avatars to increase its strength. In short, the computer is LITERALLY a cheating bastard.
Cyberspace: In the far-flung future of 2010, the Internet has supplanted by Oz, a somewhat whimsical cyberspace setting that nevertheless gets plenty of use from government agencies and businesses. It's mentioned that there are almost as many Oz users as there are cellphone owners.
Dead Man Writing: Grandma Sakae leaves a note to the family with her wishes on how they should carry on after her death: welcome the prodigal son Wabisuke back into their home and stay strong together as a family.
Deep-Immersion Gaming: The fighting events and Hanafuda games are played from the perspective of the avatars. When King Kazuma faces a giant Love machine demon formed by million of stolen accounts, Kazuma acts as if he's facing it himself.
Everything Is Online: Oz has over a billion users for which it functions like ones entire OS based on a single social network structure. Imagine if getting your Facebook account hacked was literally the same as getting your personal computer, cell phone, and workplace account hacked because they were all the same account in the first place. While this makes its chaos more justifiable it is an improbable monopoly of service.
It can detect evil from orbit,. It also alerted the family about Granny Sakae while everyone was sleeping.
The first time we see Wabisuke, he's petting the dog and asking if he's forgotten him. It's a hint that in spite of his bastard demeanor and strained relationship with grandma, he's not so bad after all.
It also whines when Shouta takes Kenji away, a hint that Kenji is not as bad as the family thinks.
Exact Time to Failure: The film's countdown to destruction stops with fourteen minutes to spare, subverting this. Only to become a double subversion, as Love Machine realises it didn't bet the probe guidance account, causing the countdown to continue.
Love Machine is obviously based on Diablomon, and quite possibly the computer from WarGames as well.
The movie itself is this to the aforementioned Digimon movie, which had a similar plot but different setting, characters, and the focus of the films are different, with Summer Wars being about the real characters and the other film being more about the digital aspect.
Fair Cop: Shota may have not liked Kenji at first, but he only arrested him because he thought (along with Kenji and others) that the teen did something illegal. When there was evidence to disprove the accusation, Shota lets him go.
Freudian Excuse: Illegitimate son Wabisuke sells off his portion of grandpa Tokue's inheritance in order to fund his computer science education in America. His family believes he did it selfishly but it was actually so he could land a contract with the US military to bring wealth back to his family. Self-conscious about his bastard origins, he was just looking for a "Well Done, Son" Guy moment from his adopted mother Sakae.
Grandma Sakae's epic use of her address book and a rotary dial phone to bring order to the entire nation of Japan after Love Machine starts sowing chaos.
When Love Machine gets the upper hand in the Hanafuda battle and Natuski does not has enough accounts to bet with. The whole world, who was watching the battle, starts sending their accounts to help her out.
Gone Horribly Right: One suspects that the US military did not expect Love Machine to be able to cause quite so much real-world damage in its attack on OZ.
Good Scars, Evil Scars: Good, in the case of King Kazma. He gains a scar from forehead to jaw over one eye after being thrown into the cloud barrier surrounding OZ by Love Machine.
Hair-Raising Hare: After swallowing Kazuma's avatar, Love Machine grows bunny ears. It doesn't make it any less scary at all.
Happy Birthday to You: After the first fight with Love Machine, there's a cut where some of the family are practicing this song. After surviving family trauma, averting an cyber-apocalypse, and surviving the satellite equivalent of a nuclear bomb, the next day, all of the family, bar Wabisuke, and including Kenji, sing this, with weird props, like plastic wands, party hats, a taiko drum, and even a puppet, to the deceased Granny Sakae.
Kazuma, after Love Machine version 3 breaks out of his prison, transformed in to a massive monster made of avatars when Kenji and company had thought they had successfully trapped him. Kenji shakes him repeatedly, trying to snap him out of it, but he only does so after its too late to save King Kazma from getting hurled in to the cloud-wall surrounding OZ.
Still later, it's subverted, as Kenji's faced with a third re-encryption from Love Machine after frantically solving the first two on paper. He stares blankly at the screen for a long moment — and then, as he starts to slowly type out the solution one key at a time, it becomes clear he's trying to solve it entirely in his head.
Natsuki enters one after Sakae's death. First she's numb and then she breaks down crying.
Hollywood Hacking: Better then one might expect, Love Machine functions much like a real hacker would:
Love Machine begins by crowd sourcing an encryption to break a password to gain high level admin privileges making it effectively the legitimate owner of Oz. Stealing accounts which are evidently able to command computer resources allows Love Machine to act as bot-net. Additionally most of Love Machine's mischief comes from abusing other legitimate access from accounts it has stolen. All of this is very much real to life in concept, and possible given Oz's bizarrely powerful yet insecure structure, a 256-digit number is not a long enough master password for controlling such a network OS that for some reason can't be manually shut down and restored by the owners.
Cyber-physical combat as a distraction to lure a program/bot-net into some undescribed structural trap or betting accounts on a card game, purely this trope. Lots ofRule of Cool.
The spamming encryption passwords is plausibly a form of numerical CAPTCHA for the support team. In general, nobody who didn't know the formula to crack the numbers would be able to do anything with the mess of numbers in front of them on the screen.
Important Haircut: Kazuma gives his avatar, King Kazma, a blond version of his own haircut when he decides to get serious and challenge Love Machine to a rematch.
Although it's clear nothing happened, Natsuki is infatuated with her uncle Wabisuke, basing Kenji's fake persona on him. Apparently in elementary school she wrote an essay about how they were going to get married one day.
Shota is suspiciously protective of his second cousin Natsuki.
It Amused Me: The characters note with some disgust that Love Machine isn't doing all this out of malice. It thinks of everything as a game.
Its Not My Fault: Wabisuke doesn't feel any regret over creating Love Machine... until he finds out that it killed Grandma Sakae.
Wabisuke is rude to most of the clan but over the course of the film, it's revealed he wasn't so much of a jerk after all.
Shouta is a dick, but a dick with some integrity to him.
Love Machine, the world's greatest internet troll. Willing to hit your house with a satellite out of spite for beating it at cards.
Kung-Fu Kid: Kazuma's grandfather taught him Shaolin as a means of protecting himself from school bullies; it's commented that his real-world martial arts skills are likely the source of his prowess as King Kazma.
Lady of War: Granny Sakae is certainly handy with a naginata.
Law of Conservation of Detail : Those who don't know all of the rules of Hanafuda shouldn't expect any substantial explanation, since the game is really convoluted.
Light is Good: Natsuki's upgraded avatar has a white priestess outift that has angel wings and shines with white light.
Light Is Not Good: Love Machine's second avatar invokes this trope, with a Deva-like appearance and a golden halo (which he uses to store hijacked avatars) floating behind him. Seen in full horrific detail when he consumes King Kazma—the halo, now a repository for half a billion avatars, emits a light so blinding it negates the ambient lighting of OZ itself.
Megaton Punch: Kazuma does this to a random opponent early in the movie; a giant armored crab that he destroys by punching one of its claws so hard that all of its armor is blown off. Later he does it to Love Machine after he gets his avatar back, and after Love Machine's been sufficiently weakened.
Mentor Occupational Hazard: Grandma Sakae becomes this towards Japan by calling everyone and motivating then to stopping the chaos.
Scribbling on notepaper and rapidly tapping keyboards have never been so epic.
The Hanafuda match for the fate of the world starts out pretty awesome already, but then John and Yoko grant Natsuki a rare angelic kimono for her avatar and it gets crazier from there, culminating in a meteor strike-esque (with an explosion of Cherry Blossoms upon impact) slamming down of the last card.
Epic use of a rotary dial phone and an address book!
My Sister Is Off Limits: Although he's only her second cousin, Shota is VERY opposed to Kenji's apparent relationship with Natsuki and loudly voices his disapproval right up to the end of the movie.
New Media Are Evil: Averted. See page quote. Even Love Machine isn't an example — he was expressly designed to be a weapon of war, which means that he fit firmly in the "technology used for evil means" category.
Twice family members inadvertently sabotage attempts to defeat Love Machine just as it was on the verge of defeat, first the kids piling in and distracting Kazuma, then Shota taking the ice blocks, causing the supercomputer to fry just as Love Machine had almost been contained.
Kenji initially thinks it's his fault that Love Machine acquired access to OZ's mainfraim because he cracked the code. It's ultimately subverted: not only did several people around the world solve it before him, but he had made a mistake on the last word anyway.
Wabisuke was the one who developed Love Machine and sold it to the military so his family would be wealthy once again. Then the military decides to test Love Machine out on OZ, and...
Not So Stoic: Kazuma on two occasions; the first, when Shota causes Love Machine to get away again by frying the supercomputer they'd been using (resulting in Kazuma getting angry enough to punch Shota in the face), the second when his final effort to try and take Love Machine down is thwarted, causing him to break down crying.
Official Couple: By the end of the film, Natsuki and Kenji are no longer pretending to be a couple.
One-Winged Angel: Love Machine does this twice as he assimilates more avatars. It's almost a literal example, as at one point he has actual wings. Admittedly he has two, but one is standing considerably higher than the other.
Oh Crap: Done by several characters throughout the movie.
Kenji's look when he sees that not only has Love Machine stolen his avatar and it's also hijacked a bunch of others. Then his temporary avatar gets punched in the face.
Kazuma gets one (reflected by King Kazma) when Love Machine goes One-Winged Angel on it and grabs him before throwing him into a wall. It's also combined with a Heroic BSOD, as Kazuma is so shocked that no amount of shaking from Kenji can get him to react and move out of the way.
Love Machine also has one, represented by its pupils shrinking in size, when Kazuma, having regained his avatar, charges at it and punches it so hard it shatters.
Overly-Long Gag: Natsuki introducing her extended family, though this is Truth in Television for many Asians having dinner with extended family. At those times you are lucky if you get a rudimentary explanation AT ALL before everyone settles down and eats.
Parental Abandonment: Kenji's parents's jobs leave them with no time for him; they're never seen during the movie's whole duration. Staying with the Jinnouichi was the first time he experienced what family's really like.
Peacock Girl: Natsuki's avatar gains a peacock tail and angelic wings when John and Yoko, the virtual guardians of Oz, grant her a rare kimono for her avatar to give her the strength to beat Love Machine at Hanafuda.
Peek-a-Bangs: Kazuma, and later King Kazma, modeled after Kazuma.
Please Wake Up: The family's initial reaction to finding Sakae dead, even the adults.
Plot Tailored to the Party: In a story that revolves around the theme of family, there's no surprise that the 'war' the titles refers to is waged by pooling all the various family member's resources and skills each member has. Who would have thought being good at card games, math problems, and fighting games would be so critical for survival? It's more believable than most examples. They are a fairly large family and one of the members invented the AI so they know how to beat it. They are obviously choosing to combat the AI on their own terms. For example, they could have challenged Love Machine to any game, but chose a specific card game the family was good at. Furthermore, the use of a fisherman's boat as a power source, a salesman's super-computers, and a trio of firefighters' skills come in handy at multiple points during the movie.
Police Are Useless: Shouta himself is a cop, but is often too impetuous to be of any great use.
Red Oni, Blue Oni: A family version. Tasuke (father) is the Blue Oni and Shota (son) is the Red Oni.
Righteous Rabbit: King Kazma is a bideal rabbit who serves as the main muscle for fighting Love Machine.
Rousing Speech: Comes post-mortem from Sakae in the form of a letter that serves as the major turning point of the film due to the way it finally unites the family- Natsuki convinces the prodigal son to come home, the men put aside the war long enough to have a meal and mourn their loss with everyone else, and the women are finally convinced to help fight the war against the virus.
Rule of Cool: There's no practical reason that Natsuki needs the upgrade from the OZ admins, since it just pretties up her avatar BUT IT'S AWESOME.
The storyline is similar to the 1983 film WarGames: a young man takes up a challenge from a rogue AI, releases it upon a vast network of computers and almost brings about the destruction of the world. Furthermore, the original creator of the rogue AI finally has the chance to repent for his sins.
The Nakama Punch from One Piece movie #6 shows up and it's as awesome now as it was then.
King Kazma is a likely reference to Cave Story. King and Kazuma are two characters from the game. The anthromorphic rabbit design supports this.
The list of people other than Kenji that managed to solve the code from Oz's security system have names slightly modified from the names of noted mathematicians. For example, Andrey John Wiles = Andrew John Wiles, famous for proving Fermat's Last Theorem.
Love Machine's body language during its first fight with King Kazma is highly reminiscent of the Evangelions in Berserker mode. It helps that Yoshiyuki Sadamoto, the character designer for this movie also did Evangelion before this.
The face of Love Machine's second form very strongly resembles that of Mazinger Z.
Love Machine, using Kenji's hijacked avatar, dons a blue cape with stars on it and stands atop a rocky point waving his arms about directing his stolen avatars, strongly resembling the scene in "The Sorceror's Apprentice" where Mickey directs the stars in the sky. Love Machine's final form of a great dark shape with two protrusions on its head, shown from the waist up coming out from atop the ruins of the prison it broke out of, also bears a very strong resemblance to Chernobog in Night on Bald Mountain. For that matter, the music sounds like Night on Bald Mountain.
Kazuma might've been able to beat Love Machine shortly after he took over Oz and totally avoid all the chaos he unleashed but just as he had the program in a headlock, his cousins began to climb over him, allowing Love Machine to absorb some other avatars.
The "flood the castle" strategy might have worked had Shota not taken all the ice blocks being used to cool the supercomputer.
Spinster: Mansuke lampshades this towards his daughter, Naomi and his niece, Richii.
The Stoic: Kazuma. When everyone else is rejoicing he barely smiles when they manage to get most of the accounts back from Love Machine. Shown to be Not So Stoic a few scenes before because he feels he failed to protect his mother and unborn sister.
Mansaku's sons could be confused to be triplets. There are some small, physical differences to tell them apart- Kunihiko (slightly brownish hair), Katsuhiko (combed hair), and Yorihiko (hair is slicked to the left side).
Super Fun Happy Thing of Doom: Love Machine isn't nearly as pleasant a program as its name would lead you to believe. Justified in that it was named by a Japanese man with an odd sense of humor.
Surprisingly Good English: The English voice over during the opening and Sakuma's chatroom (there are some spelling mistakes, but let's just say they're typos: it is a chatroom).
Time Bomb: Love Machine eventually sets a two-hour countdown on OZ's worldwide clock. When it hit zero, it was supposed to crash a Japanese satellite, which it had recently taken over, into a nuclear power plant. Once Love Machine is thwarted, and the timer stops, it starts up again, this time with the satellite aiming right at the house the main characters are sitting in.
To some extent, nearly the entire family until it's explained just how high the stakes are in their situation. One particular example is Shota taking the computer's cooling ice blocks to keep Grandma Sakae's body from overheating.Justified in that the family is in mourning over the loss of their matriarch. While some members of the family are focusing on getting revenge on the virus that caused her to die, most of them are simply dealing with the loss and focusing on all the work for the funeral. When that sort of thing happens to people, their instinct tends to be to turn their focus inward.
the U.S. military deciding to test out Love Machine by releasing it into Oz, which is used by most world governments.
Took a Level in Badass: Kenji went from solving one of the unbreakable codes of Oz in minutes using a sheet of paper to doing the same thing, but in a matter of seconds and in his head.
The Virus: Justified — Love Machine is explicitly a botnet, a program designed to be this trope. His evolution even mirrors the progress of a worm — he starts off as an "evil" version of Kenji's avatar — the initial infection-but gradually gains more menacing forms as he assimilates more computing power.
"Well Done, Son" Guy: Wabisuke through and through. Going to America, developing Love Machine, selling it to the American Government, all of it was an attempt to gain enough money to make his adopted family wealthy again so they would accept him.