Summer Wars is a much more impressive film the second time you see it. Which is saying a lot given that it was also pretty good the first time around. I’m not going to go into too much detail about the plot: this is a relatively recent film so I think I should limit the spoilers if possible.

Apart from anything else much of the story line depends on a single point of failure that I still find hard to swallow. If I go into any detail at all about the plot this will generate an extended rant which I want to avoid.

Instead I’m going to look at the core of the film which is family, and especially that tough old biddies are way cool.

The key here is contrast. The main male character Kenii Koiso has very little family to speak of, making him something of an observer on the outside.

In contrast one of the main female characters Natsuki Shinohara is a scion of the large and traditional Jinnouichi clan (who make up most of the characters). Although the Jinnouchi’s are a noble clan that has fallen on relatively hard times.

I say “one of” because it is Natsuki’s great grandmother Sakae Jinnouchi who truly dominates this movie. The clan is gathering to celebrate her 90th birthday and Natsuki has some odd ideas on making her happy.

Specifically she hires Kenji for a part time job and introduces him to her granny as her boyfriend. This is a fairly worn trope but it is played well in this film, especially in the timing of the reveal.

Much of the rest of the plot revolves around the ridiculously large Jinnouchi clan coming together to deal with the rising crisis.

That the family comes together, and how they do it, is primarily Sakae’s doing and legacy.

Sakae towers over the film, and it is arguable whether it is Sakae or Natsuki who is the greatest influence on inspiring Kenji to work with the family and triumph over the challenges that emerge during the film.

In particular Sakae is a piercingly good judge of character. Her ready acceptance of Kenji as Natsuki’s boyfriend is just one example of the awesomeness that is Sakae.

As I said in my brief review last time this film is a celebration of families that you can’t live with, and can’t live without. There is some light romance (hardly surprised given the means by which Natsuki dragged Kenji in), but this is part of being in (or joining) a family.

Joining the family is the key to the ending, which is frankly just fabulous.

Summer Wars maintains a good balance of drama and comedy throughout, and the pacing is spot on throughout. The dub is also surprisingly good – I’ve been listening to it as I write this post. The second disk in my set has a number of nice extras such as cast interviews and the like.

Overall this is one of the best anime movies that I’ve seen in years. And that’s despite the gaping great plot hole. 🙂

Thoroughly recommended.

Day 1 – New Kimagure Orange Road: Summer’s Beginning (1996)
Day 2 – Naruto Shippuden The Movie (2002)
Day 3 – Galaxy Express 999 (1979)
Day 4 – Steamboy (2004)
Day 5 – Urusei Yatsura 2: Beautiful Dreamer (1984)
Day 6 – Lupin III: The Castle of Cagliostro (1979)
Day 7 – Howl’s Moving Castle (2004)
Day 8 – Ah! My Goddess: The Movie (2000)
Day 9 – Summer Wars (2009)
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