Welcome to the world of OZ , a massive computer-simulated virtual reality world where many real-life businesses, government and life necessities are connected to it. Get in contact with your bank anytime, call the police, shop in-game and get the items in real-life; communicate with everyone and let OZ translate to everyone in the world of OZ in all the languages in the world. This is the world of OZ.
This is the backdrop of Summer Wars, the winner of the 2010 Japan Academy Prize for Animation of the Year and nominated for the 2009 Golden Leopard award at the Locarno International Film Festival.
Summer Wars is a story set in science fiction with human emotions and a slice of life all rolled into one. We begin the story by learning about the world of OZ and how it effects the life of everyone on earth. Moving onwards we are introduced to the protagonist, Kenji Koiso voiced by Ryunosuke Kamiki. Kenji is a genius and represents Japan as a math-olympiad and can calculate any type of mathematical based problems. Fan of OZ, he too is a moderator but in real life; socially inept.
At the beginning of Kenji’s summer vacation, he is invited to the family home of Natsuki Shinohara (voiced by Nanami Sakuraba) during his summer break as part of Natsuki’s plan to help out 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. There he is introduced as Natsuki’s fiancee. Family members of Shinohara from far and wide came to spend time with Sakae Jinnouchi (Natsuki’s great-grandmother). After some drinks and food and an embarrassing situation, Kenji returns to his guest-room where he receives a mysterious e-mail containing a mathematical code.
Not knowing the consequences that will soon follow, Kenji solves the code and emails it back to the sender. The next day, he noticed that he is on the news as a person who hacked the OZ system. His cover story of being Natsuki’s fiancee is blown and Kenji is at a lost and with everyone knowing about his real background; Kenji thanks Sakae-san for her hospitality before being brought in to the police station by a family member of Shinohara who works as an officer of the law.
With the OZ system hack, panic engulfed the world. Massive traffic congestion, safety system once guarded by OZ destroyed. City life is at a near standstill. Everyone who was suppose to come for Natsuki’s great-grandmother’s birthday called in to say that they could not make it due to various emergencies that was caused by OZ which affected the real world.
Natsuki “rescues” Kenji who then uses his wit to undo the damage which he has done. Unfortunately the damage is done, the calm and collected Sakae Jinnouchi, uses the level of influence she’s created in her 90 years of life and calls various people in important positions in Japan’s society and her family who work in various emergency services.
Her words encourages them all to work their hardest, to see through this troubling time of turmoil, reducing the potential chaos and damage that could have occurred. Later on we learn that the true hacker is an artificial intelligence called Love Machine made by Wabisuke, a man who is an illegitimate son of Natsuki’s grandfather but was adopted by Sakae, whom Wabisuke cares for deeply.
Love Machine although no longer controls OZ, it steals users accounts and one of which monitors the heart of condition of Sakae-san. Due to this thievery, a warning which should have been sent to the doctor did not reach and Sakae-san passed away. Before her passing Sakae-san played a game of Koi-Koi with Kenji with a stipulation that if she wins Kenji is to take care of Natsuki.
Heart broken, the family began preparation. Wabisuke at this time was going back and did not know about what had happened as he was chased out of the family home for being the man who created Love Machine.
Standing up and to make sure that this tragedy does not ever happen, Kenji seeks help from his friend and Natsuki’s family to bring down Love Machine. An all-out fight takes place in OZ and Love Machine is nearly defeated and trapped. Unfortunately, one of Natsuki’s relative took away some ice blocks that was use to keep the military-grade server from over heating.
Love Machine escapes and in the ensuing chaos take control of an account that controls one of the satellites and sends it crashing to Earth. In a rush against time and in a match that could only go one way, King Kazma (an OZ avatar) goes all the way and loses to Love Machine. Natsuki at that time was holding a will written by Sakae-san which had not been open yet.
Seeing what had happen, she called Wabisuke to come back home and to help them. At first he did not want to but after learning that Sakae-san had passed away due to his unintentional doing, he rushes back. At this time, Sakae-san’s will is read and in it she ask for everyone to calm down. She then ask for a small funeral and even though she does not have any materials to give them only the people which she knew through the course of her life.
Sakae-san then ask for the family to welcome back Wabisuke if he comes back and to give him the fruits for him to eat. For when he returns, surely he will be hungry. Sakae-san then ends her will by saying how she is glad to have them all.
Wabisuke returns and after paying his final respect to his beloved grandmother, paid his family dues by helping Kenji defeat Love Machine. At this juntion, Natsuki enters OZ to challenge Love Machine to a game of OZ where the stakes are the accounts that Love Machine had stolen against her’s and her family’s account.
The game was Koi Koi and at first Natsuki is on a winning streak but trying to beat the clock before the satellite crashes, she loses her wager. With not enough to pay for the next round, all hope seems to have gone down to a great despair. That was until one OZ user offer their account for Natsuki to use. A flood of accounts came in all backing up Natsuki to win the match and she did win.
By winning, they were able to find the account that controlled the satellite. Kenji using his whiz and moderator access manages to change the course of where it will crash. No lives were lost but extensive damage to the Shinohara’s house was massive. At the end, they celebrated in the memory of Sakae-san’s memory.
Wow. This movie is really something. Serge love the visual effect and the animation that was done by Japanese animation studio Madhouse. The pace of the story is good, character interaction is great and even though you might want to hate Wabisuke, you just can’t help but feel sorry for him.
Although Kenji is suppose to be the protagonist of the movie, Serge will say that King Kazma stole the lime light. The storyline is a little bit shabby but overall, we recommend that you watch this and if possible watch Toki o Kakeru no Shojo
Summer Wars receives a 4/5 stars and we leave this post with one not-so-massive multiple screencap of Summer Wars.
“Family should never let go of one another. You must never admit defeat in life. And though you may come upon hard and painful times, I want you all to sit together and eat as a family…” – Sakae-san’s will
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