R&A by JL: Summer Wars

Mamoru Hosoda is one of the directors expected to become the next Hayao Miyazaki. With only a few films under his belt such high praise might seem weird, but believe me. His direction is really that good. The Girl Who Leapt Through Time made him instantly one of the best directors in the anime industry. How can one follow a major success like that? It must be hard to even create something equally pleasing. In Hosoda’s case, he even improved a little with his next film, Summer Wars. Without giving too much away, the film tells about Kenji, a boy who ends up being forced to pretend to be his dream girl’s, Natsuki’s, boyfriend in front of her large family. Meanwhile the fate of the entire world is at stake when Oz (a more developed and involving version of Facebook) is taken over by a terrorist.

Whereas The Girl Who Leapt Through Time was Hosoda’s intimate drama with small scope, Summer Wars is the opposite: a grand tale boasting more than 20 unforgettable characters. It is a huge achievement to create such a rich narrative that can handle so many characters. The teamwork between them is even more important. In the true feel-good fashion, he gives each of the characters a chance to shine and it doesn’t even come off as forced as in most films. It is done so cleverly that it evokes genuine emotional response from the audience. Hosoda’s ambition isn’t limited to that: he goes and accompanies that with a striking social commentary. The reason why Hosoda is so often compared to Miyazaki is that he manages to cater to a large audience and craft a perfectly paced narrative that never abandons its complexity and raw emotional power.

The art design is spectacular. From the Takashi Murakami inspired superflatism in Oz to more detailed and warm scenery of the real world the film is visually an outstanding effort. Yoshiyuki Sadamoto has always been an impressive character designer and his work in Summer Wars is not an exception. Creating so many distinct characters is hardly an easy job yet with this final result he makes it seem so. Hosoda’s editing and framing are subtle but damn powerful – even in comparison to his earlier film. Akihiko Matsumoto’s wonderful soundtrack has not received enough praise from other critics so I’d like to give it a special mention. The electronic sound of the Oz tracks and the emotionally moving compositions used during the moments of sorrow form a soundtrack that ranks among the best of the last 10 years.

Loaded with both tear-jerking and cheery scenes, Summer Wars is first and foremost a great piece of entertainment. So far I haven’t heard a single complaint about the film’s entertainment value. The audience that I watched the film with was completely taken in by the film. Go and see it whenever you get a chance to do so. You won’t regret it.


About Oz
A Finnish film buff who has taken a huge interest in language and Japanese cinema. Can be contacted via email (johlauri@hotmail.com), Twitter (@OzymandiasJL) and a Private Message on EvaGeeks (Oz).

2 Responses to R&A by JL: Summer Wars

  1. Pingback: The 23rd Helsinki International Film Festival – Rakkautta & Anarkiaa « Forced Perspective

  2. Sachi says:

    Completely agreed. I loved this movie, and I certainly have high hopes for Hosoda’s next project.

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