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Tuesday, January 09, 2018

Review: Summer Wars

I came to Summer Wars with low expectations, thinking that it was part of Hosada's pre-Girl Who Leapt Through Time work. Turns out that it actually post-dates that work and of course is a much better title than the latter.

There are several cliches that seem popular in Asian literature and film. One of them is the person who has to travel to a family gathering and (to keep up appearances) decides to present a friend as a significant other to his or her family. At first, Summer Wars seems to be exactly this movie.

Mixed in with all this, however, is a story about virtual reality and the take-over of an essential online service by a malicious AI. The technical details of this part of the story are far-fetched and unbelievable (no computer scientist will consider this plot anything other than laughable), but it serves the purpose of bringing the story of a multi-generational family with its long-term unfathomable disagreements, bitterness, and history together.

With all that in place, the story suddenly transitions into a family drama, with the people we think of initially as the primary protagonists suddenly shoved into the background. In any other director's hands this would be a major disaster, but Hosada somehow makes it work, and the end result is impressive.

Make no mistake, this isn't nearly as good as The Boy and the Beast. But it's significantly better than The Girl Who Leapt Through Time and is worth your time. Recommended.

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