Sunday, January 24, 2010

Summer Wars ~ Last Year's best Family film

Summer Wars (サマーウォーズ Samā Wōzu?) is a 2009 anime science fiction film. The film focuses on a timid eleventh-grade math genius who has been falsely implicated in the hacking of a virtual world and, with the aid of a classmate's extensive family, must prevent the real and computer-simulated worlds from colliding. It was produced by the Japanese animation studio Madhouse and directed by Mamoru Hosoda.

The story centers on high school student Kenji Koiso (Ryūnosuke Kamiki), a child prodigy in mathematics who spends his time immersed in OZ, a massive computer-simulated virtual reality world. Kenji is a genius with numbers but ill-adept socially. He secretly has a crush on his attractive senpai Natsuki Shinohara (Nanami Sakuraba) but does not have the courage to tell her. At the beginning of summer vacation, he is asked by Natsuki to help in celebrating her great-grandmother's 90th birthday. Although Kenji does not know the details of the plan, he agrees and goes with Natsuki to her grandmother's estate in Ueda, Nagano Prefecture. Much to Kenji's surprise, he is introduced at the Shinohara family house as Natsuki's fiancé.

As Kenji tries to act the part, meets Natsuki's dozens of relatives, and deals with the advances of computer expert Wabisuke Jinnouchi (Ayumu Saitō), Natsuki's uncle and "first love", he receives a mysterious e-mail with a mathematics code. He cracks the code and returns it to the sender but finds himself at the center of a developing news story the following day. Overnight, OZ has been hacked and turned into a digital deadzone, and he is the prime suspect. Using Kenji's account and avatar, the real "hacker", which is actually the advanced artificial intelligence system Love Machine, has stripped the virtual world empty and wreaks havoc in the real world. With car navigation systems disabled and computers malfunctioning, Japan grinds to a halt. Love Machine also gains control of a satellite and threatens to send it crashing to Earth. In order to fight back, Kenji enlists the help of Wabisuke, Natsuki's family, and his best friend using an army of avatars. With the fate of the world at stake, a great online summer war takes place.

Definitely the best family film from last year for me. This is one of those films you watch once, feel satisfied and wouldn't mind watching it over again in a few months time. The story is somewhat amusing throughout, yet climatic to the point that you will understand what it feels like to carry the weight of the whole world under your shoulders. Although the film has an obvious / cliché ending, it's worthwhile to watch it to the end since there is always a lesson to learn from most films such as these. Family, love, friendship, responsibility and trust. A noteworthy family film and thus recommended for all.

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