Monday, January 17, 2011
An invitation from comely classmate Natsuki brings young Kenji to the Japanese countryside, where he tries to balance working remotely on the super-social-network Oz with the challenges posed by Natsuki's family (particularly her formidable grandmother). But all of these concerns quickly evaporate in the face of a threat posed by the Love Machine, a sinister program that Kenji unwittingly unleashes upon Oz and the world.
The latest feature from venerated anime producers Madhouse, Summer Wars is an absolute delight. Madhouse runs riot in the scenes set in Oz, with colorful icons waging ongoing battle against the escalating threat of the Love Machine. But the film's real world sequences are every bit as moving. The film's extended supporting cast, including what feels like twenty members of Natsuki's family, are all vividly realized, and each has a role to play in the film's intensifying battle scenes.
The comparisons that have been drawn between this film and the work of Miyazaki are misleading - the film is as madly inventive, but not rooted in Miyazaki's whimsy. The film takes in myriad genres and subgenres of Japanese film - anime cyber action dances between seasonal scenes straight out of Kurosawa. Though profoundly sensitive viewers may take issue with the film's quiet endorsement of Japanese militance, Summer Wars is a rare anime that examines Japanese traditions and values in terms of today's globally interlinked cyberworld. Your proprietor was pleased by the film's balance between its gentle attack on American isolationism and its keenly-expressed family values.