I’ve never really been a big fan of animé but must also confess to never having watched any until very recently. Like many others, I assumed I knew what it was; quirky childish cartoons with cute monsters and characters with big eyes. I was wrong, and if you hold these views as I once did, I beg you to reconsider. Think of animé as being more like a computer animated film; it is only a medium and the content within that can be as varied as Beowulf, Final Fantasy: Advent Children and Finding Nemo. So before you dismiss this film as irrelevant and not for you, I urge you to try it before you dismiss it outright.
Summer Wars is the first anime film I’ve seen. And it blew me away. It reminded me exactly why I love film and it has nothing to do with film criticism. I could easily see all the flaws and there were many but I loved the way the film made me feel. Film has a power that no other media has to include you in completely new experiences that you couldn’t even dream of before you pressed play. It has the ability to teach us new things, both about ourselves and others while simultaneously entertaining us with exciting thrill rides.
There are few films like this which have had such an impact on me, Mirrormask and Amelie being two such examples. They tend to be of an indie nature and this is possibly the closest to being a blockbuster style affair, but it was for me an exciting, emotional joy ride with characters I could really relate to. This was the first of these where the character I can completely relate to is a male made it an incredibly personal experience.I can often struggle with feeling that people cannot relate to me, and that someone has captured a character that I can completely identify with is a rare thing.
This film is exactly why I will never be a film critic. I believe film cannot be viewed objectively, as no film will be the same for two people. You can argue over the technical merits of a film, but that is such a tiny part of the experience. In my opinion talking about film objectively is like talking about your sweetheart in that way; occassionally useful but it’s not really why you like him/her. I believe we connect with it emotionally, as we do all art, and we cannot explain it rationally. There are some films I believe we all hold dear and this is one of mine.
I could now go on to tell you what it was about, but my view of it is so unshakebly formed and without you seeing it, I can’t hope that you will share mine. I also am finding it hard to work out what parts of it to say without it being a spoiler. I’ve become so attached to the film that I don’t want to ruin it for you. The trailer was almost too full of spoilers for me to recommend, but it didn’t really spoil it for me. I will try to sum it up in one sentence, as there is then a limited risk of me giving things away. It is a sci-fi romance about social networking, family and relationships. I really hope you can watch this amazing film, as it is very good on a technical level too. The pace is so fantastically perfect that I cannot fault it, the animators have a keen eye for details which helps give depth to the vast number of characters on show. The storyline is a beautiful idea that is fantastically timeless and also of the moment. The creativity on show is amazing and I have seen nothing like it. If I had to compare it to another film, I would say it is the polar opposite to the Social Network. It is fun, cheerful and light, while also being creative, surreal and heart warming.
I full heartedly recommend it, not because I expect you to love it as much as I did, but I do expect you to enjoy it. It is a glimpse at what I believe animé can do, a genre I will be exploring much more after this. I apologize for the lack of definitive information in this review, but I wanted to remind everyone what film is really about. It is not a cold separate experience where we judge the professionalism as if it were dressage, but is far more than that. If nothing else, I hope this post reminds you of a few of the films that mean a lot to you. Please share them below, as I would love to find more films like this.