Hello and welcome to a new weekly segment. In this column we will watching one anime movie a week. Most of these will be ones I’ve been putting off or recommended by you the reader. Yes that is right, if you find an anime movie that you want brought up in public forum, I will happily watch it. Now some rules.
1) I will only review movies in this column. Our fine staff has a couple others who are more qualified and better versed then me to review and discuss series, which leaves me no desire to step on their toes.
2)This is my column. That means I may not like a movie you do or love one you absolutely loathe. You are more then welcome to bring up your gripes and compliments in the comments. I will read them. But I won’t be changing the way I review a movie because you the reader disagree. This review is about my experience with the film. My experience is different then yours.
3) I will not be reviewing movies that are attached to series. Don’t get me wrong. I love them but they fall under the catagory of series. Again other writers on our staff are much better qualified to discuss series.
4) I’m human. I make mistakes. If I miss a point or credit a wrong person for something, feel free to point it out and I will fix the error in the next weeks column. But please, keep it respectful. I understand that we as anime fans are a passionate lot, but name calling and insults to myself or another commenter will not be tolerated.
That being said, let us begin this new column with Summer Wars.
I watched Summer Wars in Japanese with subtitles, so while there are going to be different producers and voice talent credited on the internet, I will try to keep all the credit and notes about this movie with the Japanese cast and crew. I’m saying this now so that we can avoid the issues of “YOU’RE WRONG, YOU IGNORANT ASSHAT!” in the comments to a minimum. Debuted in 2009, Summer Wars is a lighthearted story about Kenji K0is0, a high school student who works part time on the far reaching and multicultural website called Oz. Voiced by Ryûnosuke Kamiki, Kenji is a bright lad that is more comfortable with numbers then with members of the opposite sex. His goofy yet sweet disposition is something that most viewers will find cute, without being cutsie.
While working with his friend on Oz, Kenji’s crush Natsuki Shinohara, burst into the room and offers him a job. Not being one to pass up an opportunity to spend time with, Kenji takes the job without knowing the details. Through several train trips, bus trips and finally a car trip to the home, we learn that Natsuki has brought him along to celebrate her grandmother’s 90th birthday. We also learn of Natsuki’s family history, being proud warrior family that did well in buisness and at one time were very wealthy. Until the clan grandfather made allot of bad business decisions and lost everything except the family estate. Nanami Sakuraba does a wonderful portraying the somewhat dreamy eyed Natsuki.
Once Kenji and Natsuki arrive at the family estate, and after thoroughly making an ass of himself in front of Natsuki’s mother, Kenji learns that his job is not one of helping with the planned party, but to help Natsuki by playing the role of her imaginary boyfriend for her family. ALL OF THE FAMILY. Yes we have seen this plot point in RomComs, but unlike RomComs, this works. It doesn’t feel like a forced set up as much as a poor sap doing whatever he can to impress the girl he has lusted after forever. Family Matriarch, Sakae Jinnochi is not fooled for one minute, yet sees something in Kenji. Playing along for her own ends, Sakae allows the deception to pass.
While juggling the stress of keeping his emotions intact and keeping up the deception that is his job, Kenji receives a coded text the he can’t resist. This leads to Oz being hacked and vandalized. While normally a website being hacked is an inconvenience for those that use it, or at worse loss of personal information and a bit of money, Oz is connected to most governments, major businesses, and various public services. This is a disaster on a massive scale. Kenji feels responsible and goes all out to fix Oz.
The way the story is handled is a delight to watch. The interaction between Kenji and Natsuki’s family is fun and funny. There is a lot of genuine emotion in this film, yet at no time do you feel that you are having those emotions crammed down your throat. The writing and dialogue in this movie are handled in such a way that you always feel engaged. There is no heavy handedness in this, nor any attempt to teach a “moral”. It just a good story.
The animation was top notch. Though it is mostly a CG film, it doesn’t feel like it. It has the artistry of a traditional hand drawn anime, gorgeous to look at and a pleasure to watch. The scenes in Oz were so well done that even though you knew it was a world inside a computer, it didn’t feel computer generated. In all honesty, Oz felt more organic then the outside world.
As I hinted at before, the voice acting in this was some of the best I’ve heard. Every line just made the characters all the more realistic and believable. It was a wonderful job by everyone and it really brought Summer Wars to life.
Now I want to put a disclaimer here. I left ALLOT out of the story. There is a reason for that. I want you to go watch it, and I don’t want your experience of this fun movie ruined by me. It well worth the two hours of your time.
I will be taking suggestions for future movies. I will only review anime stand alone movies for this column. NO Series. If you have a anime movie you want my opinion on, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Write Anime Movie in the subject. Thanks for reading. Till next week.