Summer Wars (Samā Wōzu) 2009
One of my favourite things about this film (which is suddenly ten years old!) is that it manages to tell a really compelling family drama at the same time as its external ‘plot-based’ action storyline.
Of course, the two do intersect but it’s always impressive to me that Hosoda found time in the film to charactarise a good portion of such a massive cast. And maybe it shouldn’t be surprising, considering the budget and talent behind it – I remember some of the hype leading up to its release actually. No doubt that after the success of The Girl who Leapt through Time Madhouse was happy to give Hosoda and writer Satoko Okudera a fair bit of leeway 🙂
There’s a lot going on with our team of ordinary heroes (math-nerd!) trying to take out a rogue AI that wreaks havoc in the real world via the internet, including redemption arcs, first love, jealousy, death, defiance and comedy – in a way, it’s very much a family movie, since it never stretches beyond the bounds of the PG rating, as much as it’s a science-fiction film. And like most big budget anime films, the art is beautiful and vivid – especially setting of the Jinnouchi estate itself.
Although, part of the fun upon watching Summer Wars after its release can be seeing how accurate some of the predictions from the writing team were about the near-future – though what I tend to think of most when I put the film on now, is the way that while action and fighting feature in the final battle, part of that struggle is actually played out via a game of Hanafuda, which enabled the film to not only channel Yu-Gi-Oh etc but also to tie it in with the traditional aspects of the Jinnouchi family.
As with almost all Mamoru Hosoda films, there’s a couple of parts where you might tear up and a few good laughs as well, great pacing and plenty of surprises too.