While watching it, I was wondering to myself : Why does this seem so familiar? And then I realised I had watched something very similar to this before.
Digimon Adventure- Our War Game.
Let’s compare the plots :
In Summer Wars, a AI programme ,Love Machine, developed for the U.S. Military is tested out on OZ, this social network which has become so advanced that every job in the world employs the use of OZ, even the government. It steals people’s OZ accounts, becomes enormously powerful and unstoppable , creating mass chaos threatening to fire missiles all over the world. In Our War Game, a new Digimon egg is found and hacks into every computer system in Japan. Eventually, it gathers enough power to create mass chaos and threatens to fire missiles at Tokyo (?) .
Compare the characters. In both series, we have a math/computer expert who excels in solving computer problems, in the form of Kenji and Koushiro (?) respectively. Every character involved in Summer Wars has an unique online avatar ; every character involved in Digimon has an unique Digimon. In both series, the American Military gets involved, starting the whole catastrophe in Summer Wars and providing the power to launch missiles after being hacked in Our War Game. Both shows involve friends who become lovers in the end. In the enemy’s final form, they both look similar.
In both shows, minor characters know what the main characters are doing -100% , without any related background whatsoever.
Now here’s the moral question : If I’m watching something exactly the same, why do I feel so entertained?
The answer is simple – the packaging. Yes. Essentially, one could criticise Summer Wars as an exact clone of Our War Game, but I don’t think so. In Our War Game, it failed to focus on characters- after all, it is a movie based on a TV series. Watchers were expected to know about the characters in-depth. In Summer Wars, it manages to stir emotion, build character and intensify plot – all in 1 hour 54 minutes. Essentially, one could criticise Summer Wars for making no sense. One example being the code being sent to Kenji who solves it – without rhyme nor reason. He failed to solve it due to a typo, but 51 other people around the world did. That , in my opinion, made sense. The opposition commonly states the code and the plot as reasons why Summer Wars is bad, but that is wrong. After all, the movie explored the possibility of a super-advanced social networking system. All your information is on the internet- and with a ‘information-seeking’ AI like Love Machine, it could have simply searched the data for math geniuses and sent the code to all of them – waiting for one of them to solve the code and unwittingly allow it to create havoc. The plot was also developed upon this idea- that everything is connected with one single network. Everyone uses the network , including students, teachers, retirees, and even the government.
What I felt could have been a detriment to the movie’s overall success was the climax.
Overall, this would be how I’d rate Summer Wars:
Story : 8/10
Overall : 8/10