Mamoru Hosoda’s Summer Wars (2009) is a fantastic effort by the incredible Japanese director that is delightful from start to finish.
Welcome to my 75 Films From Asia column where you will find all the reviews for my 2020 movie challenge where I watch 75 movies from the grand continent of Asia! All films have been pre-selected and you can find them on this google doc or follow along on my Letterboxd! I have always been interested in Asian Cinema and now I have the chance to broaden my film horizons by exploring more of this continent’s cinematic history. So from now on to the end of the year, I hope you enjoy reading my journey through these 75 films.
The story is a pretty simple young boy is taken to the girl of his dreams’ great-grandmother’s 90th birthday to act as her boyfriend, but there is a huge twist to all that is going on. Cyber hijackers use a virtual video game to control nukes that could destroy not just the family’s home but the whole city. What seems like such a simple plot is a very well thought out story about family and gender norms.
The film is highly stylized and is as anime as it gets, but it is unique in its sense that it does not look like a Studio Ghibli, Shonen, or a film by Satoshi Kon but it is in the style of Mamoru Hosoda. That along with the voice acting, score, heart, and humor that revolves around the film makes it so special. What I appreciate the most about the picture is its commentary on gender norms on not just women in a family, but those that force men into a single definition of masculinity. Summer Wars (2009) is a magical film to start this challenge with and one that warmed my heart from beginning to end.