Summer Wars

Thursday, 12 August 2010

Summer Wars Manga FilmSummer 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 an upper-classman'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 project was first announced without a title at the 2008 Tokyo International Anime Fair, and the first trailer of the film was released in April 2009. Audience interest was fueled primarily through word of mouth and Internet publicity. Two manga adaptations of the film were published ahead of the film's release in Japan. It was nominated for the 2009 Golden Leopard award at the Locarno International Film Festival, and won the 2010 Japan Academy Prize for Animation of the Year.


The story centers on high school student Kenji Koiso, a wiz in mathematics but ill-adept socially, who spends his time in OZ, a massive computer-simulated virtual reality world, as a part-time low-end moderator. At the beginning of summer vacation, he is asked by Natsuki, one of the most popular girls in his school, 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 over a dozen of Natsuki's relatives, and deals with Natsuki's "first love" crush on her uncle Wabisuke Jinnouchi, he receives a mysterious e-mail with a mathematical 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 he is the prime suspect. Using Kenji's account and avatar, the real "hacker", which is actually the advanced artificial intelligence system Love Machine, wreaks havoc on the virtual world of Oz which is affecting the real world that is deeply ingrained into Oz' system. With car navigation systems disabled and computer systems malfunctioning, Japan grinds to a halt. With his math skills Kenji is able to crack the passcode and returns control of Oz back to the moderators and Oz' engineers. Meanwhile Natsuki's great-grandmother, 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. She 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. But her actions do not go unnoticed by Love Machine, which leads to an unfortunate tragedy for the Shinohara clan. Although no longer controlling Oz itself, Love Machine continued to steal user accounts, numbering over 10 million at the time, with one being linked to a heart monitoring system for Natsuki's great grandmother. This causes delayed care and ultimately her death when her heart fails her in her sleep. In order to prevent similar incidents and get revenge, Kenji enlists the help of fellow mod and best friend Takashi Sakuma, Natsuki's cousin Kazuma Ikezawa (who is the legendary Oz fighter King Kazma), and the rest of the Shinohara family to defeat Love Machine.

After the failure to trap nor defeat Love Machine through online combat, it takes control of a satellite and sets it on a crash course with a nuclear power plant somewhere on Earth where the fallout could destroy life on the planet. Kazuma tries to fight Love Machine again, now embodied in over 400 million stolen accounts as a almost living botnet, but he is no match and is absorbed by Love Machine. Needing a way to take back the 400 million stolen accounts and find the one linked to the satellite and its GPS, Kenji uses the fact that Love Machine sees everything as a game and has Natsuki's family provoke Love Machine into a game of Koi-Koi in Oz' casino world. There they wager the accounts of the Jinnouchi family and eventually that of the people throughout the world. Natsuki defeats Love Machine and manages to regain almost all the accounts stolen and in the process stops the satellite from crashing into the nuclear power plant. However, Love Machine is able to set the satellite navigation and in revenge directs it toward the Shinohara household instead. Using his moderator level of access to Oz and mathematical skills, Kenji manages to hack into the GPS of the satellite and redirects it away from the house, while Love Machine is deleted by the newly rescued King Kazma. In the aftermath, Natsuki's family celebrate the victory in the memory of their late grandmother. Under the pressure of Natsuki's family, who suggest that the two should marry for real after lying to the family about their engagement, Kenji and Natsuki attempt to kiss, however Natsuki only ends up kissing Kenji's cheek due to his nosebleed incurred earlier.

Cast and Characters

  • Ryūnosuke Kamiki as Kenji Koiso (小磯 健二, Koiso Kenji?), the 17-year-old protagonist of the film. He is a math wiz and enthusiastic user of the interactive computer world OZ but is less skilled in dealing with people, especially his crush Natsuki. However, spending the summer with her family and defending the world from online threats transform this shy boy into a man.
  • Nanami Sakuraba as Natsuki Shinohara (篠原 夏希, Shinohara Natsuki?), the 18-year-old object of Kenji's affection and a spirited young woman. She invites Kenji to meet her large extended family but has hidden reasons of her own. Her "first love" is Wabisuke.
  • Sumiko Fuji as Sakae Jinnouchi (陣内 栄, Jinnouchi Sakae?), the 90-year-old great grandmother of Natsuki and indomitable head of the family. Despite her advanced age, she holds the family together. She also has connections in the highest ranks of political and financial circles.
  • Mitsuki Tanimura as Kazuma Ikezawa (池沢 佳主馬, Ikezawa Kazuma?), Natsuki's cousin, a 13-year-old OZ user and world-renowned netgame warrior champion, King Kazma, who joins Kenji in the fight against the hacking attacks. He is an otaku who seldom leaves his room and uses his talents to win every fight and challenge he has in OZ.
  • Ayumu Saitō as Wabisuke Jinnouchi (陣内 侘助, Jinnouchi Wabisuke?), a handsome and sardonic 41-year-old computer expert and the "first love" of Natsuki. He is the illegitimate son of Natsuki's grandfather but was adopted by Sakae, whom Wabisuke cares for deeply. He is the creator of "Love Machine" and a professor of Carnegie Mellon University.
Japanese animation studio Madhouse first announced at the 2008 Tokyo International Anime Fair that director Mamoru Hosoda was developing a new film. Summer Wars was first announced as the project's official title in December 2008 in Newtype magazine. Hosoda wanted to "make a film with a story that will be accepted by a wide range of people without reference to age or sex—a film which you can enjoy as an adventure for the whole family, and which is just right for the summer movie theatres". In addition to Hosoda, the team included screenplay writer Satoko Okudera and character designer Yoshiyuki Sadamoto. The three have previously worked together in the 2006 animated film The Girl Who Leapt Through Time. Hiroyuki Aoyama served as the animation director, while action animation direction was handled by Tatsuzo Nishida. Aoyama was an animation director on The Girl Who Leapt Through Time; Nishida was a key animator on that film.

Youji Takeshige oversaw the art direction for Summer Wars. The city of Ueda was chosen as the primary setting of the film because it is located in a territory formerly governed by the prominent Sanada clan, upon which the Jinnouchi family is based. Takeshige, who has previously worked with Studio Ghibli, incorporated old-fashioned Japanese houses into his scenery designs. The film also features the Japanese spacecraft Hayabusa, whose control center is located in the nearby city of Saku. Hosoda included the spacecraft to support Japan's contributions toward space exploration.

During interviews at the 2009 Anime Festival Asia in Singapore, Mamoru Hosoda explained his inspirations for both the OZ environment and the theme of family. Although noting similarities between OZ and Second Life, Hosoda cited the Japanese social networking website mixi as "the network I thought the most about." With regards to the appearance of OZ, he acknowledged a "great reverence for Murakami and his work," to which the design aesthetic was compared by some reviewers, but explained "the look of those scenes isn't really something I made with his style in mind. Simply, it's a very clean, uncluttered look... and that visual simplicity appeals to me." Hosoda explained how his perceptions of family were changed by marrying after completing The Girl Who Leapt Through Time: "It takes a lot of effort, and sometimes those new family members are hard to deal with, but you can also make a very deep connection with a total stranger... I never really thought about the idea of "family" being the theme of a film before, but somehow it just clicked into place."

Production of the film took three years. Madhouse studio head Masao Maruyama explained at Otakon 2009 that the longer-than-average production time was due to the large number of characters in Natsuki's family, which Hosoda insisted on including. Maruyama then quipped that he asked Hosoda to promise only two main characters and two years of production for his next film. Summer Wars was one film in Madhouse's larger theatrical film release strategy, which is to release one new film each season for the next year. The release of Summer Wars will be followed by Mai Mai Miracle, Yona Yona Penguin, and Redline through the first half of 2010.


A high level of anticipation surrounded Summer Wars prior to its release due to the critical and popular success of The Girl Who Leapt Through Time. In order to increase publicity, production partner Kadokawa Shoten, which had released The Girl Who Leapt Through Time through its Kadokawa Pictures studio, promoted the film heavily. Iqura Sugimoto's manga adaptation of the film was featured in the July 2009 debut issue of Kadokawa's manga magazine Young Ace. The first compilation volume of Sugimoto's work was released in Japan on August 10 and debuted in 23rd place on the Oricon comic ranking, selling 51,645 copies. The second volume was released on February 4, 2010 and debuted in 12th place, selling 53,333 copies. An additional manga side story was featured in the July 2009 issue of Comp Ace magazine.

Kadokawa also promoted the film online through their YouTube channel, aiming at international as well as domestic fans. A one-minute high-definition (HD) trailer was released in April 2009, followed by a longer trailer in June. In late July, the Japanese website of Yahoo! Movies streamed the first five minutes of the film, and Kadokawa offered the footage on their YouTube channel several days later to allow for international viewing. Additionally, it offered two of the film's 15-second television ads online. Prior to the release, Masao Maruyama believed that "the film should be pretty popular, since the pre-sales for the tickets are very high".

Theatrical Release

Summer Wars opened in theaters in Japan on August 1 and ranked 7th, grossing an equivalent US$1,338,772 on 127 screens during its opening weekend. Its opening was followed on August 12 by theaters in South Korea, where it debuted in 8th place and earned an equivalent of US$369,156 on 118 screens. The film was released in Singapore on February 25, 2010 and debuted in 17th place, earning an equivalent of US$14,660 on 3 screens. It was debuted in Taiwan on June 4, 2010.

Film festival screenings

The film was presented on February 26, 2010 as the opening night event of the annual New York International Children's Film Festival with director Mamoru Hosoda in attendance. Through an interpreter, Hosoda answered audience questions following the film's screening. Hosoda and a producer subsequently were hosted by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Comparative Media Studies Program on March 1, 2010, where they offered a public screening free of charge and answered questions.The film was screened at the IndieLisboa Film Festival too. The debut screening in Australia was on August 8th 2010 as part of the Melbourne International Film Festival.

Home media releases

The film was released in Japan on DVD and Blu-ray on March 3, 2010. In its first week of release, the film became the top selling anime Blu-ray in Japan with an estimated 54,000 copies sold, surpassing the previous record holder, Evangelion: 1.0 You Are (Not) Alone. To date, it is the second highest Japanese Blu-ray debut overall, following Michael Jackson's This Is It. Based on pre-orders, however, Summer Wars is expected to be eclipsed in sales by Evangelion: 2.0 You Can (Not) Advance on its release in May. In addition, Summer Wars topped the Oricon Animation DVD charts with 55,375 copies sold in its first week.

On January 5, 2010, British distributor Manga Entertainment announced they had licensed Summer Wars for the United Kingdom. The film is scheduled for a October 2010 release on DVD and Blu-ray. At Otakon 2010, North American anime distributor Funimation Entertainment announced that they have the rights to the movie and will release it in theaters in late 2010 and on DVD and Blu-ray in 2011.


Summer Wars Original Soundtrack

The film's soundtrack titled Summer Wars Original Soundtrack (「サマーウォーズ」 オリジナル・サウンドトラック, Samā Wōzu Orijinaru Saundotorakku?) was released on July 9, 2009, and distributed by Japanese entertainment company VAP. The CD contains 18 instrumental tracks. It remained on the Oricon music charts for four weeks and peaked at rank 112.[37]

All songs written and composed by Akihiko Matsumoto.

Summer Wars Original Soundtrack
No. Title Length
1. "OZ, the Virtual City" (仮想都市OZ Kasō Toshi OZ) 2:53
2. "Overture of the Summer Wars" 4:41
3. "The Jinnouchi Family" (陣内家 Jinnouchi-ke) 1:39
4. "Wabisuke" (侘助) 1:18
5. "2056" 1:06
6. "Pleasure Criminal" (愉快犯 Yukaihan) 5:19
7. "King Kazma" 3:07
8. "Kenji" (健二) 1:02
9. "Sakae in Action" (栄の活躍 Sakae no Katsuyaku) 3:09
10. "Solidarity of the Jinnouchi Family" (陣内家の団結 Jinnouchi-ke no Danketsu) 5:38
11. "Battle Again" (戦闘ふたたび Sentō Futatabi) 3:29
12. "Collapse" (崩壊 Hōkai) 1:42
13. "Letter" (手紙 Tegami) 3:30
14. "Everyone's Courage" (みんなの勇気 Minna no Yūki) 1:34
15. "150 Million Miracles" (1億5千万の奇跡 Ichi Oku Go Senman no Kiseki) 3:34
16. "The Final Crisis" (最後の危機 Saigo no Kiki) 1:14
17. "The Summer Wars" 1:53
18. "Happy End" 2:17
Total length:

Our Summer Dream

The ending theme song "Bokura no Natsu no Yume" (僕らの夏の夢?, lit. "Our Summer Dream") by Tatsuro Yamashita was released as a maxi single on August 19, 2009. The single was distributed by Warner Music Japan and included two other songs by Yamashita that are unrelated to the film. The first two songs have corresponding karaoke versions, and the third song is recorded from a live performance. The single peaked at 8th place on the Oricon charts.

All songs written and composed by Tatsuro Yamashita.
Our Summer Dream
No. Title Length
1. "Our Summer Dream" (僕らの夏の夢 Bokura no Natsu no Yume) 5:08
2. "Muse" (ミューズ Myūzu) 4:29
3. "Atom's Children (Live Version)" (アトムの子 Live Version Atomu no Ko Live Version) 6:26
4. "Our Summer Dream (Original Karaoke)" (僕らの夏の夢 オリジナル・カラオケ Bokura no Natsu no Yume Orijinaru Karaoke) 5:07
5. "Muse (Original Karaoke)" (ミューズ オリジナル・カラオケ Myūzu Orijinaru Karaoke) 4:25
Total length:



In his review for The Japan Times, Mark Schilling rated the film 5 out of 5 stars and observed that Summer Wars "may contain familiar elements, beginning with its bashful, moonstruck young hero, but it combines them in ways fresh, contemporary and dazzlingly imaginative". The film provides a social commentary on the differences between an "analog world" and a "realm of digital devices". Schilling titled his article "The future king of Japanese animation may be with us; Hosoda steps out of Miyazaki's shadow with dazzling new film". He also praised character designer Yoshiyuki Sadamoto and animation directors Hiroyuki Aoyama and Tatsuzo Nishida for producing "scenes of animated spectacle that, in their dazzling fluency of motion and untethered brilliance of invention, makes the usual SF/fantasy anime look childish and dull".

Todd Brown of Twitch Film also referenced Miyazaki, noting that following The Girl Who Leapt Through Time "cries went out immediately hailing him [Hosoda] as the heir apparent." He claimed that with Summer Wars, "Hosoda is the new king, the best story teller working within the animated medium in Japan and - quite possibly - the world." Brown praised the film itself as "richly detailed and beautifully written," "gorgeous to look at," and "blessed with an extensive cast of stunningly detailed and authentic characters," and concluded by saying "Hosoda has perfectly balanced the need to entertain via the visuals with the rich and satisfying character work that separates him from the massive pack of quality technicians to establish himself as truly a master story teller." Guillem Rosset, also of Twitch Film, noted that the "wonderful cast of characters is one of the film's greatest strengths" while also highlighting that in the OZ sequences "the creative minds of Madhouse can let their imagination run wild." With regards to the technical aspects, Rosset called the film "a top class audiovisual show." Echoing Brown, he concluded by writing "Mamoru Hosada deserves a place as one of the top contemporary Japanese animators. And it's good to know that once the time comes for Miyazaki to retire (not too soon I hope!) there's people capable of following his steps." The Korean newspaper Herald Business saw the film's fantasy theme and gorgeous animation as a differentiator from works produced by Hollywood studios.

Patrick W. Galbraith of compared the design of OZ to Takashi Murakami's artwork, specifically "the flatness, or slick, polished surfaces," and then contrasted them with the sequences in Nagano, noting "it has a warm and lived in feel to it, aided by a scrupulous attention to detail." Of the story and characters, Galbraith wrote that "scenes such as the large family coming together and talking over dinner are heartwarming and hilarious" and compared the movie to "a moving picture book, a family photo album turned back a few decades." He also noted the audience response, reporting sold-out screenings two nights in a row, and highlighting handwritten notes left at the theater by "hoards of fans who on the spot decided to move to Nagano." In conclusion, Galbraith wrote "there is an innocence and purity to this work that really reminds me of Miyazaki Hayao and Studio Ghibli back in the day, and the stellar backgrounds invoke Shinkai Makoto."

Justin Sevakis of Anime News Network gave the film an 'A' rating and wrote that "decades from now, Summer Wars will be seen as the official arrival of Mamoru Hosoda into the realm of historically important anime directors." He called the film "a near-perfect blend of social satire and science fiction, at once timely and timeless, sardonic and optimistic," and noted "Summer Wars is practically overflowing with sharp social insight in a way we have not seen from anime in years." Sevakis praised Yoshiyuki Sadamoto's character designs and highlighted the visuals as "sharp and consistently great." In summing the film up, he called Summer Wars "Incredibly entertaining, and intriguingly intelligent. Accessible and fast-paced. Pretty much perfect."
[edit] Awards

Summer Wars was the first Japanese animated film to be included for competition at the Locarno International Film Festival, in Switzerland, where it was nominated for the 2009 Golden Leopard award. The film made its international premiere at the festival's celebration of manga, paying tribute to its impact on the animation industry. Although the film did not win the award, the Swiss newspaper Tribune de Genève named it, "by far, the best film we could find" in the competition and noted that the film would have been the logical winner given the festival's theme. The film was featured in the Sitges Film Festival in the Oficial Fantàstic Panorama category, where it won the Gertie Award for Best Animated Feature Film. The Girl Who Leapt Through Time won the same award three years earlier at the festival considered by critics as the most prestigious for fantasy cinema. Summer Wars received an award for new media from Japan's Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry on October 24, 2009, at the Digital Content Association of Japan's annual convention. The film was screened at the Hong Kong Asian Film Festival and the Leeds International Film Festival. Summer Wars was also nominated for, but did not win, Best Animated Feature Film at the Asia Pacific Screen Awards. The film was awarded the Animation Division Grand Prize at the 13th Japan Media Arts Festival. Hosoda's The Girl Who Leapt Through Time won the same award in 2006. Summer Wars won an Award of Excellence in Animation along with four other films at the 33rd Japan Academy Prizes. The Award of Excellence is in effect a nomination for the Animation of the Year Prize, which it won in the final ceremony on March 5, 2010. The film was shown at the 60th Berlin International Film Festival in February as part of the Generation 14plus program.


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