By Corey Birkhofer
Summer Wars, Japan, 2009
Directed by Mamoru Hosada
With the rampant popularity and ubiquitous prevalence of social networking phenomenon including FaceBook, Twitter, MySpace and so many other copycats, Summer Wars could not have hit the screens at a more timely point in the evolution of mankind’s obsession with recreating reality in a virtually controlled world. Other films, stories, animations, comics and forms of media distribution have all hinted at our dangerous courtship in relying too heavily upon technology to make our lives easier and more connected, but Summer Wars, which is being submitted for an Oscar nomination by Funimation, has its finger on the pulse of the inner fear we all share – the “Terminator”-phobia, if you will – that our heavily depended upon technology will turn on us.
“A spokesperson for Funimation Entertainment told TheWrap this week that it is currently filling out Academy paperwork for the Japanese anime release Summer Wars, directed by Mamoru Hosada, and will complete a qualifying run in Los Angeles before the end of the year. Barring any disqualifications for the kind of eligibility issues that can always arise with the Academy, or any unexpected decisions not to submit, Summer Wars will bring the field only two shy of the needed total.”
–TheWrap.com’s Steve Pond
Whether Summer Wars makes it into the final 16 to be considered for nomination was not my concern when I finally sat down to check it out, though knowing what this anime would be up against this year, including Toy Story 3, I did want to see what kind of chops it had to be able to stand next to your standard Pixar heavy-hitter. Let me tell you, it did not disappoint. So if you’re looking for my recommendation of whether to check this animation out or not, I would say it is definitely worth a look. Whereas Studio Ghibli is well-known for pitting a heroic main character amidst a backdrop set for commentary on mankind’s mistreatment of the environment, Madhouse has decided to comment through Summer Wars about the necessity for unplugging and how the “analog” relationships in our lives are the ones that matter, much more than our well-maintained simulation farms, virtual ogre avatars and how many “tweets” we’ve made that day. But despite the underlying message of this animation, Summer Wars keeps its tone much more subtle than I am letting on. Really, the anime is a light-hearted and oftentimes over-the-top humorous endeavor that echoes the importance of the need for families to gather, eat together, laugh together and go through all the analog aspects of the human experience that we often take for granted.
Contact the Author: CoreyBirkhofer@MoviesIDidntget.com