Monday, June 16, 2014

Movie Review: Summer Wars

Summer Wars (Sama Wozu)
Director: Mamoru Hosoda
Voice actors: Ryonosuke Kamiki, Nanami Sakuraba, Mitsuki Tanimura, Sumiko Fuji
Madhouse, NTV, Kadokawa Group Publishing. Japan, 2009

Kenji is a mathematical genius working as moderator of virtual world Oz with his friend Takashi. The users of the Oz use avatars to interact with the virtual reality. A girl named Natsuki asks Kenji for help as she travels to his home to celebrate the 90th birthday of her great-grandmother Sakae. Natsuki's family the Jinnouchis are revealed to be an old samurai clan. Much to Kenji's surprise Natsuki introduces Kenji as her boyfriend. The plan is that Keiji pretends to be Natsuki's fiance to make great-grandmother happy. Natsuki's uncle Wabisuke who was living in America after stealing some of the family's money arrives one night. This causes some tension with the family. 
Welcome to Oz
Kenji and Takashi moderating the Oz

At night Kenji gets an coded message to solve. Next day someone  uses Kenji's identity to vandalize Oz. Rogue artificial intellingence program Love Machine has started to attack Oz and is stealing avatars. Also the sabotaging causes also damage in the real world. Luckily Natsuki's family members have access to military grade hardware so together Kenji and Jinnouchis start a war against Love Machine.
Love Machine
The movie combines the traditional Japanese family ties with modern social networking culture. There is a huge cast of characters. It has funny moments and spectacular virtual reality fights. As a sci-fi  movie Summer Wars resembles a bit WarGames. However some twists are quite absurd. Also I do not think that the film has the same emotional level as Studio Ghibli films. However all in all the movie is fun and entertaining.
Jinnouchis' avatars ready for battle

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