NYICFF – Mamoru Hosoda’s Summer Wars

Summer Wars is about a boy and a girl heading off to the countryside to celebrate her grandmother’s 90th birthday. The girl, Natsuki, is spoiled and comes from a big samurai clan family. The boy on the other hand, Kenji, is your anime typical awkward geek who happens to be a math genius. Natsuki literally imposed the idea of making Kenji pretending to be her boyfriend so her granny, Sakae, won’t be worried about her becoming a spinster. Poor little Kenji is home alone most of the time, with both of his parents at work. Seeing Kenji being dragged into Natsuki’s big samurai clan family make a case for an interesting family dynamic study. You can’t help but feel a bit sorry for Kenji for feeling left out in a large family setting.

Like all families, there’s always a Black Sheep. Natsuki’s beloved uncle, Wabisuke, is actually an illegitimate son of Natsuki’s late grandfather. Despite this, Natsuki’s grandmother took Wabisuke as one of her own. The relationship between Wabisuke and Sakae became estranged as time went on. Wabisuke is generally not welcomed by the rest of the family, since he does not follow the clan’s bloodline. However, Wabisuke became a very successful IT entrepreneur, using the money Sakae gave to start his own comapany.

Like all of us these days, all the members of the film belong to an online social media world. The online world of OZ was visually represented like the Super Flat artworks from Takashi Murakami.

Here’s a screen shot of OZ and you’ll see what I mean.

Summer Warts OZ ScreenShot

Image from Gyabbo.Wordpress.Com

Kenji’s OZ got hacked one night. All of Japan’s internet/communication infrastructure were sent into a tailspin. To make matters worse, the hacker used a picture of Kenji, which implicated Kenji is now a key suspect. To prove his innocence, Kenji, along with Natsuki’s otaku cousin, Kazuma, infiltrated the world of OZ to find the culrpit: a powerful A.I. avatar by the of Love Machine, which was developed by Wabisuke! A brilliant boy math genius and an awesome otaku online gamer proved to be no match for the Love Machine. Wabisuke redeemed himself by helping the boys to defeat Love Machine’s plan to crash a satellite on earth. However, boys can’t fight the battles just by themselves. Enter our girl, Natsuki, who happens to be a wiz when it comes to the ancient card game of Hanafuda. It turns out that granny Sakae taught all her children to play this game. The boys created an ingenious online game of Hanafuda: pitting a match between The Love Machine and Natsuki to save the world.

So, what have we learned from all this?

  • Boys are good at math
  • Girls are good at playing games
  • A Majority of the Human Population are on a virtual social network
  • Every family has its problems
  • If we all can work together, disasters can be avoided

Sounds like Family Values to me!

But don’t take my word for it! Audience member and mother, Lorraine Ratchford, gave us her two pennies of the film.

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