I nearly saw the anime movie “Summer Wars” when it came out in Kyoto, but in a memorable episode ended up seeing the second Evangelion movie instead. Anyway, from the glanced-at posters, I assumed it was a heartwarming story about a summer vacation that turned into some kind of competitive event.
Well it’s not: it’s about the hacking of an online network used by most of the world and an extended family organising their 90-year-0ld matriarch’s birthday. Summer Wars involves themes about working together in the face of disaster, cooperation with people you don’t know, and the value of family. I found it quite touching in light of the recent catastrophic events in Japan.
The main family featured is well connected, if no longer wealthy, and takes pride in their Takeda Shingen lineage. They have their share of minor family squabbles but despite fractiousness are able to come together and trust each other.
A subsidiary theme of Summer Wars is of games: online fighting games, Go (featured for a brief moment – the tap of the stone being placed on the board was wonderfully evocative for me), and Koi-Koi, a game played with Hanafuda cards (these are the cards that Nintendo started life making).
I enjoyed the movie a lot: despite the large cast and superficial treatment of many characters, there was quite a bit of depth to the main ones, and to the conflicts that occurred between them.