Summer Wars

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Summer Wars

Postby bakamatt » Thu Feb 24, 2011 2:19 pm

The trick to being inspired by Hayao Miyazaki is to embrace his sense of wonder and beauty, and to bring traditional Japan and contemporary Japan into juxtaposition, without getting all cranky about it like he does.

I?ve been hearing for a while now how good Summer Wars is, and I got to watch it at Naka last weekend. And, if it?s not as good as the hype suggests, it?s darn good.

I don?t have a copy in front of me, so can?t cite character names, for which I apologize.

So, a young Math Prodigy is recruited by the Cutest Girl In School to accompany her to her Grandmother?s birthday party. However, said Prodigy has apparently accidentally helped a Bad Guy to hack the Second Life-like Web 3.0 meta-application called Oz, and all civilization is threatened.

Huh? Sounds goofy. And it is, but that?s not the point. The point is the abovementioned fusion of historic and current Japan, which this director (unlike Miyazaki) thinks is actually a pretty good thing: only the combination of Granny?s values and the young folks? mad skillz might save the day.

It could be a more polished film. The various pieces of emotional baggage that Granny?s family tote around could stand to be handled with a lot more finesse. We have to accept that the clan happens to contain members with an impossibly wide range of skills and resources. And we?ve seen everything, from cyberspace to killer satellites to young romance, before.

But it?s pretty and sentimental, has some honest emotion, and makes you wish you had a traditional Japanese family. And the romance is deft and cute rather than mawkish or slapstick, and somehow makes hand-holding look darn sexy. Folk with Blu-ray players will certainly want to opt for that format, as the CG cyberspace scenes are wild and flamboyant before you?re done.

Oh, and speaking of things we?ve seen before, it?s all the United States? fault.
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Postby ZeroRyoko1974 » Thu Feb 24, 2011 3:21 pm

I really loved this film. I think it is the best anime film since Ponyo (wait, has there been any major anime films since Ponyo?). In any case, I thought it was a great film, and the Blu Ray is quite pretty to, with the fancy slip cover (why do they feel the need to put a stupid sticker on the fancy slip case telling me there is some useless cards inside?)
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Postby ca_jas » Wed Apr 13, 2011 4:32 am

You know, I gotta say overall it wasn't an impressive experience watching this movie. I really loved the animation and the characters but the plot itself and the pacing seemed really off. I loved the idea of breaking the "internet" but it quickly reverted into threatening the world with nukes. It always goes to the nukes! Now this is the same team that did The Girl Who Leapt Through Time, and that movie blew me away, I loved it so much! That movie benefited from having only a few characters to work with while Summer Wars had 50 or so to keep track of. I definitely think Summer Wars is worth the viewing, however, I'm not sold on it being great.
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Postby Tsunami3k » Wed Apr 13, 2011 8:01 am

Yeah, the consensus seems to be that it comes frustratingly shy to being a truly great film but that it drops the ball enough on a few key points that hobble it somewhat. Even still, I anticipate enjoying this ambitious effort greatly in no small part because I've found myself in the mood of late to watch a genuine anime move that's simply not part of the Ghibli homogeny (homogeneous + hegemony).

Don't get me wrong, Ghibli movies are typically first-class events, but it's nice to see things produced from a fundamentally different approach as we'd expect from a Hosoda or a Shinkai. Maybe it adds to my sense of urgency to mix things up now that a major pillar of "otherness", Satoshi Kon, is gone.
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Postby ZeroRyoko1974 » Wed Apr 13, 2011 7:29 pm

I guess I am in the minority, I loved it
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Postby Tsunami3k » Wed Apr 13, 2011 7:37 pm

Perhaps I failed to convey the general sentiment correctly; I'll try again. From what I gather, lots of people love it but that love is usually qualified with a few caveats.
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Postby Kokon Tozai » Fri Apr 29, 2011 10:11 am

Great post, good thread, long overdue response.

I too had the pleasure of seeing Summer Wars next to Matt at Naka-Kon. I thoroughly enjoyed it. I realized as I sat there watching that there wasn?t any other place I?d rather be at the con than just sitting there, getting into it. That?s a good sign. It left me with the same of warm fuzzy feeling that ORIGIN: Spirits of the Past did, also a film that is a bit preachy. In ORIGIN I liked the balance between an aggressive steam punk world versus a much simpler and (literally) organic life. In Summer Wars Matt is exactly right: it is the balance between old Japanese values versus the misuse of modern technology that is the foundation. I?d also say that Summer Wars is the first movie I?ve seen in a long time that uses technology De jour is an integral part of the story line. Perfect Blue succeded in this as well. Remember Mimia?s Room? What was she using? Netscape three?

As soon as I walked out of the theater room I heard immediate comments about how the film was dragged down by slow parts like dead grandmas & blocks of ice. No film is perfect & one of many things to be enjoyed about anime is the slow parts. That is certainly something that differentiates itself from American entertainment product which dictates everything must move at break neck speed. My only criticism might be the idea of using large blocks of ice to cool a portable super computer. And then that is just a bit of technical silliness not a basic flaw.

So it seems that Zero is not alone. I too loved this film & a Blu-rei purchase is definitely in the future. Slipping into my flame proof suit I?ll say again how much I was disappointed and just plain irritated by The Girl Who Leapt Through Time. It?s very interesting to see how capable Hayao Miyazaki must be in carrying out a story line rather than putting a heavy handed personal style into various films making them rather cookie cutter. It will be good to see his next project.


I think it is the best anime film since Ponyo (wait, has there been any major anime films since Ponyo?).


and:

eah, the consensus seems to be that it comes frustratingly shy to being a truly great film but that it drops the ball enough on a few key points that hobble it somewhat.


This makes me think much about something else? where/ what exactly are the new classics, the best of the best that we will be watching twenty years from now? The major innovative works that are always referred to as landmark anime series is Evangelion (1995), Cowboy Bebop (1998) and Ghost in the Shell (2002). Can anyone think of anything that is substantive and transforming in the last, oh, five years? There is a difference between personal faves that I know I?ll be watching when I?m old(er) and gray(er.) I have seen many good enjoyable releases worth watching but I?m trying hard to find the real keepers. And there is a difference between something that hugely popular & then slips away. It is a combination of fresh creativity, quality production, and both popular & critical acceptance. In that five year time frame I cannot think of a single anime that will be deserving of the Evangelion treatment: spin offs with new twists and of course the Evangelion 2.x treatment, new theater releases. Zero mentioned Ponyo and of course anything by Hayao Miyazaki and Ghibli will always have a dedicated long term following. Still, 15/20 years from now I don?t see a revitalization of the content the same way we see with Evangelion. Not that I?m saying the Neon Genesis Evangelion is the best anime ever I am saying that is truly the standard of a major classic with continuing current interest by which other potential classics must be compared to.

Or maybe where has all the great anime gone is a topic better suited for another thread?
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Postby Tsunami3k » Fri Apr 29, 2011 10:29 am

Proper followup pending but I wanted to note that, if you're referring to the Ghost in the Shell movie, then it came out in 1995 whereas your date likely refers to the GitS:SAC series.
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Postby Kokon Tozai » Fri Apr 29, 2011 10:58 am

Per T3k:
Proper followup pending but I wanted to note that, if you're referring to the Ghost in the Shell movie, then it came out in 1995 whereas your date likely refers to the GitS:SAC series.


I stand (sit) corrected. You are right. Which sort of makes that mid to late 90's period even more significant.
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Postby ZeroRyoko1974 » Sun May 01, 2011 8:49 am

I can't think of many anime I have seen, in say the last 5 years that I will likely remember, or be popular 15 years from now (Gainax will probably still be milking Evangelion). Anime, much like american television is kind of largely disposable entertainment. The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzimiya may have had a chance, but season 2 largely killed that (although the Disappearance movie recaptures some of that). A lot of people talk of FLCL as the best anime of the 2000's, but I was never a big fan. What of 5cm/sec, it is a great film and a bit of an instant classic. I will have to put my vote in for Azumanga Daioh to be the classic we long remember :D or TTGL (superior to Eva in every possible way)
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Postby Tsunami3k » Sun May 01, 2011 10:24 am

Just following the trends in the figure market, I think it's obvious that Ikki Tousen is by far and away an epic masterpiece. ;D
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Postby ZeroRyoko1974 » Sun May 01, 2011 10:53 am

Not to mention Fate/Stay Night. And the Tohou anime will be classic even before it's released.
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Postby Tsunami3k » Sun May 01, 2011 2:01 pm

Derp! And we both completely forgot that tale for the ages that is Queen's Blade.
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Postby ZeroRyoko1974 » Sun May 01, 2011 9:18 pm

It certainly is a classic
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Postby Tsunami3k » Sun May 01, 2011 11:30 pm

Just by chance I just finished watching Ikki Tousen a few minutes ago. If I had my doubts before, I'm pretty much convinced now that the creators are geniuses and have thoroughly stomped all over Miyazaki's A-game. I'm ashamed for it to have taken me so long to have come to this realization.
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