- by Mamoru Hosoda
‘Summer Wars’ is about a virtual and worldwide popular world called OZ where many activities are available such as sports and shopping. Indeed, the creation of an avatar is required and the personal data which is transmitted through the networks are secured due to a strong and almost impossible cracking encryption. In fact, the whole society seems to depend on the simulated reality. Moreover, a 17 year old math genius named Kenji Koiso got invited to a summer trip by his crush Natsuki Shinohara where he has to act as her fiancé. As he arrived, he suddenly receives a strange message on his cell phone with the challenge to solve a riddle of numbers. Indeed being a math genius he managed solving it but without knowing it he put the Earth in great danger.
The anime movie has an amusing and very interesting concept: The whole world is connected to the virtual world named OZ. A funny fact is that this name can be compared to the fairy tale of ‘The Wonderful Wizard of OZ’, where everything is magic. Nonetheless, even companies around the world are connected to this world. A further interesting function of this world is that you can do almost everything like in the real world such as games and working where you can actually own money. Also government and state systems are connected to OZ: the water control, police and even the president himself has an account. The fact that this world seems to be a very important and almost obligatory thing, a breakdown would mean the end of the world. Actually, this happens and the whole world is in imbalance and much confusion is created because of this breakdown. The movie consists of many suspenses which makes it extremely thrilling. Who is behind the hacker attack? Is it even a real person? Is there any way to stop it and therefore to stop the breakdown of the world?
Many issues and aspects can be compared to the real world. For example, hacker attacks are also quite common in our world and here Kenji’s account has been hacked. In fact, he solved the complicated riddle of numbers, however this code leads to the illegal access to the world of OZ and so he is seen as the culprit because his account is used for the hacks. Moreover, one can say that the anime also tries to transmit an important message. The internet is a very dangerous place where misuse can lead to fatal consequences. It also shows how the internet is able to control the society, here everything happens over the internet and this virtual world where you are required (or rather obliged) to be a member. But also a positive message can be detected such as unity and cooperation can lead to victory.
The anime movie contains some emotional aspects such as love and hearthrobing feelings especially between both main protagonists Kenji and Natsuki. However, not only love but also drama scenes are present. SPOILER ALERT: the death of Natsuki’s grandma is very emotional because it makes everyone depressing and forgetting the destruction of the world for one little moment. Also Natsuki’s cousin Kazuma learned self defense because he has been bullied at school.
Apart from emotional aspects, many science fiction elements are included as it mostly takes place in a virtual world. We like the different depiction of the avatars because many different kinds are presented such as a bunny, human-like avatars, a train and also the constantly changing avatar of the enemy is quite amusing.
The characters are very interesting, because they differ in their personalities. For instance, Kenji is reserved and feels uncomfortable in front of girls. In comparison, Natsuki has a more open personality as she does not fear talking to other people. She also takes advantage of Kenji’s reserved personality and his crush on her: she uses him as her pseudo-finacé/boyfriend.
The art of animation is very well done, we love the contrast between the virtual world and the reality but also the inclusion of the traditional elements such as Japanese houses, especially Jinnouchi’s house is mindblowing, and rituals are amazing. We are really fascinated by the design of the virtual world and the concept of it is really astonishing. Not only the depiction of the worlds but also the character design is very beautiful and unique. The diversity in their appearances is what we cherish the most here. Additionally, the choice of the ending song is very good and amusing.
All in all, the movie was a bit strange at the beginning because you are immediately introduced to the virtual world OZ. However, after this informative introduction, the movie gets better. The plot switches between the real and the virtual world which means it is sometimes a bit confusing but you get used to it. The movie is a kinda a mix of genres as it contains love, friendship but also fights and battle especially in the virtual world. It is interesting that through such a thing like the Internet the whole world could take an end.