Reviews: Summer Wars

Genre Wars

I think I'm literally the only individual (aside from my sister and best friend, who sat through this train wreck with me) who legitimately hated this movie. And I honestly do not understand why or how anyone was able to enjoy it. I wanted to like this movie — no, I wanted to love it. It had been recommended to me by a friend, who enthused about its amazing plot and characters. Reviews praised it as brilliant, a "work of art." I was excited for this.

That's why, even when it started floundering nearly right off the bat, like a mantra, I repeated to myself, "It's gonna get better. It's gonna get better. It has to get better."

It got worse. Much, much worse.

This movie has absolutely no idea what it wants to be. It's a romantic comedy! No, wait — it's a family drama! Er... slice-of-life? No — it's actually an action movie with a touch of sci-fi! Or — it's a baseball movie?! (Seriously, about 25% of this movie is actually dedicated to one family's unnerving baseball fetish.) The "plot" — and I use that term loosely — is a jumbled mess of every genre cliche the writers could force into one feature-length film. There's no focus — certain genres will occasionally steal the spotlight for a good thirty minutes or so before surrendering to another — and nearly every issue that the characters must confront are ones they themselves created. The "main" plot (I think) is the result of the protagonist (I can't even remember his name, he's that unremarkable) solving, in his sleep, a near-impossible math equation that gets randomly texted to his phone. It really says something about a movie when its own writers can't even come up with a better way to kick the plot into motion than to have their dopey protagonist do it in the most inadvertent and contrived way imaginable.

And speaking of the characters, they're all your classic cookie-cutter archetypes except that the dough has been pulled away with the cutter, leaving only empty, soulless silhouettes behind. And did I mention there are loads of them? How am I supposed to keep track of, let alone care, about so many bland and underdeveloped characters?

This movie is a mess. A long, boring, unrepentant mess.

Slice of Life

The movie is definitely satisfying on visuals and emotion, but the male protagonist was the epitome of awkwardness, like a meek little cream pastry. Basically, Shinji without the angst. A baby-face little simpering puppy. He creates all sorts of clumsy moments that just made me groan and fail to catch my breath in time to groan again. Buy a doormat, name him "Kenji"- there you go. It feels like I'm not so much watching a virtual reality more so a long-winded salute to Japanese family life, where WWII stories translate to Feudal era garble, there are a bunch of catty women need to be muzzled, one guy's a walking buddy cop comedy, and a shuffle pick of all the embarrassing relative archetypes we all know and (usually) love. It was an amusing niche of culture, even if I'm a neophyte about Japanese life. And of course, the film about families and wholesomeness has a cheerful, sugary ending. To think the world was saved by a Hanafuda master- let alone a high school teenage girl on a summer afternoon, sitting pretty at her granny's house, barefoot and in a sundress.

Summer Bores

The concept of Summer Wars is an odd one. On the one hand, it is the story of a girl and her quirky family. On the other, the story of a boy wrapped up in a sort-of internet conspiracy. How well do these two mesh?

Kenji Koiso is our protagonist, and is recruited by his older classmate Natsuki Shinohara, to pose as her fiance during her a family get-together. What follows is not in fact a romantic comedy full of misunderstandings, but a look at a japanese family and the events that will bind them together.

And these are the best parts of the movie - being introduced to the family and seeing how they act. Granted, they don't light the movie on fire, and come across as rather cliche, but they do provide some charming moments and fun banter to keep the movie going at a nice clip. For a while, anyways.

The same can't be said for our main character. Kenji is a flat character from beginning to end, and even could be axed from the movie with little consequence. His defining trait is being good at math, but math in this movie amounts to scribbling on paper without going into detail. If this doesn't seem like a big deal, then I'll get into the part where he and Natsuki are relevant, and the other problem of this movie - OZ.

You see, this colorful take on the internet is being terrorized by an advanced hacking AI, and in a world where everything is connected to it, this can only spell trouble. Summer Wars has been described as having great animation and art direction, and OZ is where this truly shines, and could have easily been my favorite part.

The problem? These moments take up less than 25% percent of the film, and are presented in such a disjointed manner than completely distracts from what was going before. The final conflict comes across as way too convenient, but everybody wrap themselves around it because its the only way Kenji and Natsuki can be important. It suceeds in destroying whatever focus the movie had.

I know could just focus on the parts I like, but these moments ultimately aren't developed enough. I could turn off my brain and go for the ride through OZ, but it ends up coming across as a big distraction in the end because it doesn't mesh with the rest of the movie.

All in all, Summer Wars was just a boring messy 60 min to sit through.
  • Minx
  • 25th Dec 11
  • 0


I first heard about Summer Wars on well....maybe I shouldn't post the name of the site here. I was trying to figure out the gender of one of the characters and figured that maybe if I looked it up on Youtube, I would be able to figure it out and that's when I saw someone review Summer Wars for the first time.

Ever since I saw the insane web design depicted in that movie I've wanted to see this movie for myself. And it's really good! It stars a math nerd named Kenji who accompanies his classmate to visit her grandma. Sounds boring. Well it isn't. First of all, the family residing at Natsuki's (the classmate) are a LOT of fun. What's even better is that their charm stems from their personalities and there is little use of the usual cartoon gags such as the WAY overexaggerated facial expressions like in lets say...Fruits Basket by Natsuki Takaya and NO use of the beatdowns that would PROBABLY get someone in real life killed..or in the attackers case: arrested (I'm looking at YOU Rumiko Takahashi!).

Now if you're like my brother, you'll probably enjoy that while there IS romance involved, the plot doesn't really focus much on it at all. There are WAY too many more urgent things going on, by the second half of this movie. Like, LIFETHREATENING issues that need to be taken care of FAST! But I won't go into detail about that. You're going to have to watch the movie.

I can tell you though that the movie is chock full of moments, heartwarming, heartWRENCHING, tense, and of course unpredictable. SOME people might find it a little cheesy that the symbolism in this movie isn't even the LEAST bit subtle. And there may be a few moments which induce Fridge Logic, like it did with me. But if you're like me, that probably won't stop you from enjoying it at all.

Unexpected jewel

I got it from youtube via tazzegeeks kanal and let me tell you, this anime has turned out: insanely great! Everything is well done, the characters are likable and adorable, the story is logical, articulate and flowing and I literally glued myself for hours repeating the movie again and again. This story is awesome!


Simply Amazing

This movie is one of the greatest works of animation I have ever seen. To compare it, and its director, to the likes of the Master Hayao Miyazaki is not a crime, it is the truth. The film is a visual and auditory masterpiece, with a story that rises to the occasion. It is a feast. The fact it took a half-decent plot from the digimon movie "Our War Game" which is by the same Director Mamoru Hosada, and turns it into such a magnificent work of art just adds to its glory. The film deserved every award it received and several it didn't. If you have not yet watched this movie, read no further on its tropes page until you do, lest you spoil its beauty for yourself. Go, watch, love.

A nice adventure.

I agree with Poke about the Scenery Porn and Miyazaki comparison. I found myself reluctant to get emotional involved in some scenes but it has it's Heart Warming Moments and awesome characters.

Just beautiful

I would like to say that this anime movie was one of the most beautiful animes I've seen in recent years. Im talking about the amount of Scenery Porn and the CG graphics. Mad House studios has done it again, making a compelling plot and for me it really resonated with my emotions.

I was really surprised by the very low key romance between Kenji and Natsuki, and very very happy that it didn't become a plot point until the very end.

For me I believe that this is very much on par with Miyazaki films, and the music is very beautiful. If I ever find a show that can match up to this, it sure as hell will be a long time from now.