They’re the best Anime that 2009 has to offer! We counts down the best anime to come out this year, including the likes of Naruto: Shippuuden Movie 3 – Hi no Ishi wo Tsugu Mono, Higashi no Eden Movie I: The King of Eden, Higashi no Eden: Air Communication, and more!
5: Naruto: Shippuuden Movie 3 – Hi no Ishi wo Tsugu Mono
Japanese: ナルト- 疾風伝 火の意志を継ぐ者
MAL Score: 7.33
After being sent to investigate the alarming disappearance of four bloodline limit-wielding ninjas from different countries, Kakashi Hatake, Naruto Uzumaki, Sakura Haruno, and Sai successfully discover their whereabouts and inform the Hokage. Unexpectedly, Tsunade’s further arrangements fall apart when Hiruko—the mastermind behind the incident and also a former Konohagakure ninja obsessed with power—appears to announce that he has absorbed the missing ninjas’ unique abilities. On the verge of becoming invincible, he seeks one more bloodline limit before starting an all-out war to take over the world.
As Konohagakure’s past connections with Hiruko raise suspicions among the nations about its involvement in the affair, Tsunade receives an ultimatum to solve the crisis. Left with no other choice, she decides to follow Kakashi’s lead after he presents a daring yet salutary scheme—a proposal that could send him to certain death. However, Naruto opposes such a plan! Despite the Hokage’s decision, he is determined to save his teacher’s life, even if it means fighting friend and foe alike.
The main enemy of this movie is Hiruko, some ex-leaf ninja that wants to become the perfect ninja by absorbing ninja with bloodline limits. He starts out having four out of five bloodline limits, but he needs one more ninja with a bloodline limit to become the perfect ninja, and that’s Kakashi. Kakashi decides to sacrifice himself for the Leaf in order to defeat Hiruko. But guess who doesn’t want Kakashi to die? Naruto, of course. “Those that break the rules and regulations are scum. But those that abandon their comrades are worse than scum.” That’s pretty much Naruto’s reason for trying to stop Kakashi. Friends over mission.
If you’re a fan of Kakashi or Shikamaru, you might like some of the lines they say in this movie. Of course, Naruto has some good ones, as well as cheesy lines too. Many of the other characters have their lines too, but nothing that great.
There are some light comedy, some good references to Naruto Shippuden, characters going all out with their ninja techniques, and of course the animation is good. You’d be able to tell how much effort was put into the animation if you compared it to Naruto Shippuden. All of that in one package makes a good Naruto movie.
The music was great. The music of the movie soundtrack fit well with the background to fit the mood of the scene. “Dareka Ga” by Puffy, the opening song, was pretty good to listen to.
The strong point of this movie is the references they make in this movie. The involvement of many characters is also a plus in this movie. This movie is a good watch for Naruto fans.
The story is pretty much standard fare, a disgruntled ninja named Hiruko is hunting down ninjas with Bloodline Limits and absorbing their abilities to become the perfect ninja and start the 4th Ninja War. He soon has his eyes set on Kakashi, and the next thing you know the movie becomes a Kakashi rescue arc. Now this isn’t really a bad thing since there are no filler characters and Kakashi is a pretty likable guy (unlike Sasuke) so its easy to empathize with Naruto’s gung-ho attitude about the whole thing. There are no real twists to speak of, so don’t go in expecting a really good plot because you won’t find one. This movie caters to the fans, so people who aren’t really into Naruto won’t like it either.
However that’s not to say that they’re isn’t any meaningful dialogue or characterization. Sure Naruto is the same and preaches his ideals to anyone who bothers to listen but its still pretty entertaining. There’s quite of bit of cheesy lines but some of the dialogue between Naruto, Shikamaru and Kakashi is well written and delivered. Naruto actually thinks his actions out and his speech towards the end is inspiring enough for us to get behind him, ignoring all the fat in between.
Anyway the biggest reason why anyone of us would watch this is for the fights, animation and production values, since hey, this is shounen after all. The animation is MUCH better this time around compared to the last two movies. The fights are good and the Konoha 9 get plenty of screen time. If you’re someone who likes the side characters, you’ll probably enjoy the movie quite a bit. Though the final fight is kinda disappointing, the animation is good enough to keep it together.
The music was surprisingly good. I didn’t expect much at all from Pierrot, but they did a good job in creating a solid soundtrack for the movie. There are plenty of epic orchestrated pieces that that add quite a bit to the mood, especially during the fights. There’s also a lot of good typical “Naruto rock”, which is to say up beat songs, which are hot-blooded enough to get the job done.
In the end, I enjoyed this movie quite a bit. If you’re a Naruto fan than its worth checking out, its definitely the best out of all 6. If you don’t like Naruto than this movie isn’t going to change your mind. Not that they could ever make a legitimately excellent Naruto movie, but its good mindless fun.
So there is this Orochimaru/Pain hybrid villain who hypnotizes powerful people and intends to turn to a god by stealing their powers. Kakashi is the last on his list and Konoha feels that they should sacrifice him in order to use some weird technique which when used will kill both him and the villain. Naruto disagrees and against all attempts to stop him, he just storms in to save Kakashi. As simple as this sounds, there are many things that make the movie to feel like it’s the end of the world when it otherwise feels like just a minor skirmish.
A unique feature of this movie is how there is no movie-only emo kid that Naruto feels obligated to help. It is just Kakashi and the rest of the usual gang having some issues regarding honor and respect; so in a way the whole film was mostly a civil war. Other than that though, there is absolutely no twist or anything else to look forward to. Half of the film is an uneventful build up where Kakashi reminds everyone of all those who died so far before deciding to do the same for Konoha. The other half is mostly wasted on the characters fighting amongst each other because of that. So just expect to see things you have already seen before everything ends with Naruto using a Rasengan… as always.
I must say that the whole film felt like it was full of pointless action.
– The Suna village is ordered to attack Konoha just because the villain Hiruko was once part of it. Without any proof of them being allies they are ready to fight one another while the villain is calmly fulfilling his devious plan. That felt completely uncalled for and too forced to accept. Why not just teaming up against him? And as you can guess, that is exactly what Naruto does to save the day.
– The characters are fighting amongst each other, something which results to nothing other than proving what a thickhead Naruto is.
– There were the usual cardboard evil henchmen that needed to be defeated but they might as well not be there at all since the villain was powerful enough not to need any help and the heroes were busy fighting each other instead of the bad guys.
– And what exactly is this friendship and teamwork they keep talking about if Naruto does everything alone? It sounds like a contradiction. Ok, they are working together in order to defeat the underlings but those were completely useless to the plot and winning or losing had no effect on the Big Bad’s plans.
– Naruto pretty much wins by being a stubborn traitor who uses a hax power which for some unexplained reason can’t be absorbed by the enemy. That felt cheap and anti-climactic.
– The villain in his dying breath has a change of heart. Which is pointless again since no time was invested on getting to like the guy. He remains as nothing more that an Orochimaru wannabe. Heck, we never even understand why he looks like a kid half the time.
So as you understand, apart from the rather good production values the whole film was boring, uneventful, and full of events that made no sense. It is once again a very bad addition to the franchise.
4: Higashi no Eden Movie I: The King of Eden
English: Eden of The East the Movie I: The King of Eden
Japanese: 東のエデン 劇場版I The King of Eden
MAL Score: 7.58
After preventing Japan’s destruction, Akira Takizawa made one final request to become the “King of Japan,” before he erased his memories once again and disappeared. Leaving Saki Morimi with his cellphone, the only clue she has in regards to Akira’s whereabouts is the message, “I’ll be waiting where our journey started.”
Six months later, rumors have spread about Akira, and Saki’s search leads her to New York City. However, Saki is not the only person who goes to investigate—with several billion yen burning a hole in their pockets and a challenge to “save Japan,” the remaining Sele??o are not far behind. Some are willing to help Akira achieve his goals, but a few are making dangerous moves in order to eliminate him and achieve their own picture of a better Japan. With rising stakes and new revelations, the game is still on.
I begin by stating I loved the original Eden of the East. The story was fresh and the main characters were loveable. The art style was modern and realistic and the show didn’t take itself too seriously, even with a political plot.
This isn’t always the case with the movie.
—Story— score: 5
As always with a movie, time is a limit, a story can’t always be carved out with the depth afforded by a season. The King of Eden is a direct continuation of the original Eden of the East. That means it doesn’t try to stand alone as a movie. It requires a lot of prior knowledge – if you haven’t watched Eden of the East, stop reading now!
This need for prior knowledge is the first problem: with such a diverse cast from the first season, the movie tries to give everyone some screen time for the sake of it. Characters flit in and out for no apparent reason, all the time detracting from the dynamic between the central couple. In this respect there is very little development, if fact, I would argue that the entire movie is a zero sum game, as Takizawa has lost his memory and most rebuild a relationship again – in preparation for the movie’s sequel.
The second problem is that the story feels stretched. The plot, the bits which have any meaning to the story, is quite simple, and it feels like it was one episode fleshed out in order to make money as a feature film. The movie has moments of long stills and pauses after speech. Long monologues are what’s to be expected here. Don’t make excuses for the movie as other reviewers did by saying things like “it’s not afraid to be slow in order to develop the characters”. It is clearly being slow for the sake of stretching this meandering conclusion over 3 hours.
The characters are forced to give long monologues as exposition to the plot. One particular discussion of the inheritance tax system really destroys any pacing or credibility that the film has as a non-money grabbing venture.
The third problem is partly covered above. There are unnecessary plot points popping up for no reason, much of which goes unresolved, such as a random object wielded at a playground. In addition, the story introduce another Seleção that apparently provides comic relief, but fails. The person also doesn’t add any value to the plot. After watching the movie I feel empty inside as nothing of importance actually happens.
–Art– score: 8
Not much to mention here. It is still the high standard set by the television show, with the addition of more obvious cgi that looks out of place. You can decide for yourself whether it’s a sticking point that it hasn’t changed from the TV series, but this is a movie base on a TV show, I liked it then and I like it now.
–Sound– score: 5
The movie has an OP just like a regular episode, but the new opening lacks the same impact and catchiness as Oasis’ Falling Down.
ED was standard.
I really enjoyed some of the background music, but why a 5? Well, the sound is great, when it’s there. The music was totally and notably absent for much of the first hour of the running time. No music that would make those long awkward pauses, unnecessary cutscenes and wrist-slittingly long monologues more bearable. When it is there, for the climax, the suspenseful music is so dominating it was like watching Wagner. Bombastic music coupled with the poor dialogue about nothing in particular made certain scenes more unintentionally hilarious than gripping.
–Character– score: 7
The cast is the same as the one we all got to know and apprecaite in the prequel. However, while it takes on the guise of an extended episode, The King of Eden is still a movie. A movie that falls into the classic trap, where other characters are paper cutouts apart from the leads. Having scenes of other characters “interacting” by talking at each other or repeating behaviour traits from the first season in a vain bid at humour does not constitute character development. What makes up for are the main characters, while there is also very little development, Takazawa and Saki are both loveable and believable, and their (re-)budding relationship is the only redeeming feature of the movie. However, their screen time is encroached on by pointless dialogue from other characters. If you were to watch this for the characters you will not be disappointed by inconsistency but rather the shallowness.
— Enjoyment — score:5
I’ve watched this twice, once by myself and again with my friends. I can tell you my friends laughed 3 times in this film. The biggest laugh came from the unintentional Engrish. It’s not a bad film, it’s just that after you finished you wished that you had spent your time better.
As a fan of Eden of the East, the King of Eden is a requirement for concluding the story, however, it’s not necessarily enjoyable. Nonetheless, just because the movie isn’t great, you should not treat watching it as a chore. The artwork is intricate and incredibly realised, and some backgrounds are worth seeing. Unfortunately, the other parts are very bad and really bring down what could have been a shorter, tighter and more focussed sequel.
I’m just starting to write reviews so any feedback would be kindly appreciated! =D, agree of disagree, just write me a comment and I’ll be happy to discuss it (or any series I watched) with you.
The story essentially picks up from where the first season left off. Takizawa has gone missing and the Eden members are trying to locate him.
There are a few storylines intertwined as well as new Selecao revealed and old favourites returning. I found it was steadily paced, developing the characters further and setting up what I would expect to be an action packed finale.
One of the storylines involving a new selecao felt a little out of place, offering comic relief at times when the movie had been trying to build suspense and intrigue.
Other people have criticised the lack of action in the King of Eden. I don’t really have any problems with it though. The first season had action packed episodes as well as slower plot building episodes. The movie is perhaps more of the latter, however I’m eagerly looking forward to Paradise Lost!
The art is great. It’s crisp, vibrant and very detailed. Exactly what you’d expect from Production IG. Theres alot of cool details and found myself pausing from time to time to read the selecao cell phone logs and take in a lot of the subtle details (cult movie posters etc).
Once again the sound it great, the voice work is top notch and the soundtrack complements the story without being too overpowering. I still find it amusing when an American character speaks English and Japanese character responds in Japanese, yet the seem to understand each other perfectly.
As far as the opening and ending goes, the new LEAH opening is enjoyable enough but didnt have the same kind of resonance that Falling Down had. I was glad to see School Food Punishment performing the ending theme once again though.
An enjoyable expansion to the Eden of the East universe. It feels as though the movie is more of a setup for the third movie, lacking a little in action but a must watch for Eden of the East fans.
Now, the logical thing to do for the movies in this case would be to pick up where the series left off and then continue on from there, since with only 82 minutes to utilize, time is of the essence. Sadly, however, the producers decide to stall the plot’s movement with a seemingly unnecessary use of amnesia and a splitting of the main characters. There is also a time skip used in this case, which while short, is more than enough to waste valuable time in explaining what occurred in the few months between the series and the movie and also to get the main characters back together again. The intertwining of plotlines of several minor characters plus two main plotlines in separate locations was successfully utilized in the series, and is utilized well here as well. However, getting the 2 main plotlines to converge in the series and then splitting it again before the movie is extremely unnecessary since it hinders progress of the story. As a result, by the end of the movie, the two separate plotlines are still in the process of reconverging.
The characters’ personalities and chemistry was a high point in the series, but unfortunately was tapered and diluted here due to the split plotlines, amnesia, and time skip. That’s not to say they’re terrible, but the quality and impact that they had in the series is much less noticeable here in the movie. This is not as bad for the secondary characters, however, since they maintain more of their distinctiveness and helps soften the disappointment. The lack of time also doesn’t do much to introduce new characters, and as a result, there are several Selecao whose identities are still unknown and others who have died with only a hint of an explanation.
As a result, despite containing art that’s as good as the series, the first Eden of the East movie as a whole falls short of my expectations. The high standards of character chemistry and suspense that were set in the series weren’t met in the movie, and the utilization of time in combination with the slow plot led to constant longings for the story to progress faster and either build up to a climax, expand on its depth, or start on its conclusion. It does move forward and doesn’t come across as horrid, but there was so much more that could have been done in those 82 minutes, the equivalent of nearly 4 episodes of a series. The movie, at most, accomplished the plot development of at most 2 episodes. Here’s hoping that the second movie will be able to bring the series to a close.
3: Higashi no Eden: Air Communication
English: Eden of The East Compilation: Air Communication; Higashi no Eden Recap
Japanese: 東のエデン 総集編 Air Communication
MAL Score: 7.60
A re-editing of the 11 television episodes of Higashi no Eden.
FYI, it is currently only available in English Sub. I watched Higashi no Eden in English dub, and the voices don’t differ that much. Takizawa’s voice in English is more attractive in my opinion, but there’s no difference overall. Also, most of the comedic scenes aren’t there (excluding the first episode with Takizawa’s Johnny), but all of the relevant info about the story was present.
The side story of Higashi no Eden is a lifesaver, especially for someone who doesn’t understand certain parts of the series. It explains every detail of the original series and provides extra information to answer some questions the viewer may have had. For example, what ever happened with the Johnny Hunter (Seleção No. 11) and her victim (the rapist)? Whenever a difficult scene (e.g. Takizawa’s past) comes, they answer the question thoroughly and explain it better than in the series. It definitely helps when the characters ask each other a question, and they answer honestly.
You learn more about the commentators themselves. They tell what went through their minds certain times (e.g. Saki’s thoughts of Takizawa when they first met). They explain why they do certain things and even the things they regret. For example, Itazu “Panties (Pantsu)” explain his reaction to Takizawa and how he began to like him.
Since Panties hacked inside Seleçãos’ phones by the end of the original series, he was able to browse their history from the first day of the game. Therefore, he was able to explain the reasons behind the Seleçãos’ actions and motives. It’s very helpful, since the original series didn’t fully expand on hardly any other Seleção besides Takizawa.
Takizawa is a peculiar character, and no one has any idea why he does certain things that are out-of-the-ordinary. The ending was a little disappointing, and I wish he was a commentator. You’ll probably ask yourself, “Wait. Why is Takizawa doing this?” The commentators basically say, “We don’t know.” So you can only depend on the sequel, Higashi no Eden the Movie I: The King of Eden to answer your questions about the ending.
Satoshi was so annoying. Since he likes Saki, he gets jealous during every scene involving Saki and Takizawa. He was always yelling and crying in my ears! I was so happy when someone would snap at him or slap him to shut him up. “Thank you,” since I can’t do it myself.
There were some scenes that they commented on that didn’t make any sense, because they weren’t there. Take the scene where Yūsei Kondō (Seleção No. 4) attacked Takizawa in the screening room for example. They weren’t there, so how can they comment on it? There’s the possibility that Takizawa may have told them about it, but there are other scenes as well that doesn’t make sense.
I’m so glad I watched this after the series. I had several questions, and all but one was answered. The question that wasn’t answered was about the ending, and only Takizawa can explain it. I enjoyed the interaction between the characters as they explain their emotions and thoughts within the story. Also, a lot of things became clear to me, because they gave details on the complex aspects of the series. Even if you feel that you pretty much understand the story, I suggest that you watch it for the extra info that was not mentioned in the series. Trust me. It’s definitely worth watching.
2: Summer Wars
English: Summer Wars
MAL Score: 8.07
OZ, a virtual world connected to the internet, has become extremely popular worldwide as a spot for people to engage in a large variety of activities, such as playing sports or shopping, through avatars created and customized by the user. OZ also possesses a near impenetrable security due to its strong encryption, ensuring that any personal data transmitted through the networks will be kept safe in order to protect those who use it. Because of its convenient applications, the majority of society has become highly dependent on the simulated reality, even going as far as entrusting the system with bringing back the unmanned asteroid explorer, Arawashi.
Kenji Koiso is a 17-year-old math genius and part-time OZ moderator who is invited by his crush Natsuki Shinohara on a summer trip. But unbeknownst to him, this adventure requires him to act as her fiancé. Shortly after arriving at Natsuki’s family’s estate, which is preparing for her great-grandmother’s 90th birthday, he receives a strange, coded message on his cell phone from an unknown sender who challenges him to solve it. Kenji is able to crack the code, but little does he know that his math expertise has just put Earth in great danger.
Now those of you who have watched the latest anime incarnation of Toki wo Kakeru Shoujo (The Girl who Leapt Through Time), will be familiar with Hosoda’s work as a director, and as good as that movie is, his latest effort, Summer Wars, would have been at least equal to it except for one thing.
It’s been done before.
The story follows the brief summer “holiday” of a high school maths prodigy called Koiso Kenji as he travels to the countryside with his senpai (and secret crush), Shinohara Natsuki, ostensibly to celebrate her grandmother’s 90th birthday. During his stay he receives a strange e-mail containing a sequence of numbers, and thinking it simply another maths problem, he solves it and sends it back. The following day all hell breaks loose (but in a quaint manner, this is rural Japan after all).
Summer Wars has a lot to recommend it in terms of its plot and story. The pacing and progression is very good, and the numerous events that take place are justifiable to a certain degree. It’s just unfortunate that while watching Summer Wars, I couldn’t help but think of a certain 1983 movie called War Games.
If one disregards the settings in the real and virtual worlds for a moment, then what’s left, ironically enough, is a high school kid who unwittingly begins the end of the world through something nuclear, and all because he broke a code. It’s even more ironic that the computer in War Games was developed from a simple Tic-Tac-Toe playing AI, and that it believes it is simply playing another “game” (if you can call global thermo-nuclear war a game that is).
Even with the parallels between the two films, Summer Wars is a good enough story in its own right, and like War Games, is very much a movie of its time. The use of online social networking is something that only a few shows have touched upon, and even though the application of it is somewhat unbelievable (everything from traffic management to emergency services is part of the OZ network), it’s a purposeful device that makes the story much more relevant to this day and age, and it doesn’t really impinge on one’s enjoyment of the movie.
Summer Wars is distinctive in its looks, regardless of which world is on screen at the time. The settings, backgrounds and characters are very similar to those used in Toki wo Kakeru Shoujo, but there is far more creativity and diversity in the design of this movie, an example of which is skin tone, with several characters being tanned to various degrees. Alongside this is the look of the characters themselves, and it’s truly nice to watch a show that takes a more realistic approach in this area. The people in the movie literally do come in all shapes and sizes, with no two characters (in the real world), sharing anything more than the resemblance that close relatives would have.
The one aspect of the design that is surprising is that of the virtual world, but not in the way that most people would think. The CG used in the movie is extremely well handled, and each avatar is completely unique, yet also reflective its real world user. That said, those who have seen another of Hosoda’s directorial works, Superflat Monogram, may experience some bemusement as the design of Summer War’s virtual world has been adapted from that featurette. While the art and animation are very good throughout the movie, it would have been nice if Madhouse had avoided cutting corners by using things that have been done before, but that’s just a personal preference. As far as the virtual world goes, the majority of viewers will find it inventive, original, and more than a little amusing at times.
A big plus for the movie is its cast, and although most are relatively unknown (including the two leads), this doesn’t preclude them from providing some very good performances. Kamiki Ryonosuke is very good as the bumbling, introverted and ever so slightly love-struck Kenji, while Sakuraba Nanami provides an excellent balance to this as the spirited and precocious Natsuki. One of the biggest surprises in terms of acting though, is Tanimura Mitsuki, whose portrayal of Kazuma has all the foibles and gripes one would expect from a 13 year old with a game addiction.
In terms of music, the various pieces on offer serve the movie very well, and Matsumoto Akihiko (who also provided the music for Resident Evil Outbreak: Files 1 & 2), really shows his talent as both a writer and composer. Strangely, the ending theme, Bokura no Natsu no Yume, is the only track composed by someone else (in this case by Yamashita Tatsuro), and is actually a rather appropriate lilting ballad that rounds things of nicely.
So where are the problems with the sound? In truth, the majority of issues stem from the effects as there are several notable occasions where the music, speech and effects clash quite badly. The majority of the movie is relatively well choreographed so that the noise is kept to a manageable level, but this is not always the case, and when events get out of hand, the effect on one’s ears can be a little tough.
The one area where Summer Wars really excels is in its wealth of characters. While most of the focus is on Kenji, a good amount of time is spent observing Natsuki’s extended family, and it’s this aspect of the movie that makes it such an enjoyable film to watch. Anyone with slightly dysfunctional relatives will appreciate the numerous minor clashes, feuds, loyalties, gripes, trials and tribulations that go into making any such gatherings a “success”, and it was an absolute joy to see Natsuki’s family bounce off each other like peas on a drum (which probably makes this required viewing at Christmas time). The entire family structure and their relationships with each other are handled in a very intelligent manner, and viewers may be surprised to find themselves relating to certain situations, and finding a degree of familiarity with certain events in the story.
As far as actual development goes, there isn’t really any aside from Kenji, and even that takes time to progress (although he does “man-up” in the end). Aside from that, there isn’t much in the plot that encourages the rest of the characters to grow, but then again, each is an individual to a tee, and therein lies the true strength of this movie – characterisation. It’s the power of their personalities (thanks to some great acting and scripting), that allows the viewer to relate to the characters in a way that many other shows would envy, and it’s for this reason that development isn’t really a necessity.
Summer Wars is a very enjoyable romp in the realms of absurdity that has the benefit of being relevant to a degree. The exponential growth of social networks is having an increasing impact on society, and it’s this phenomenon that is satirised the most, hence the inclusion of so many societal controls and services within the confines of OZ. While the story itself may not be new, one could consider this a more up to date re-telling of the theme – kind of a “War Games 2009” so to speak.
Whatever you think of the movie, at heart it’s only meant to do one thing – entertain – and it does that very well.
The film opens with an introduction to ‘OZ’. An information network that controls and monitors electronic services all over the world: from shopping to competitive gaming to healthcare facilities. Think the current internet age, but even more extreme.
Then we’re introduced to Kenji, a math wiz who works as a moderator for Oz and has a crush on a girl named Natsuki. A few moments later we’re introduced to this crush of his who begs him to come with her to visit her family’s summer home. Thus kicking off the plot.
Well not quite. Turns out Natsuki has a huge family and the film takes its sweet time introducing them one by one thus establishing some characters and relationships. If you can’t quite tell who’s who by the end of all the introductions you needn’t worry. The characters who end up mattering can be counted on one hand.
All the setup eventually builds up to the following: Kenji, during his stay with Natsuki’s family, is tricked into giving a dangerous computer virus access to OZ. Said virus wrecks havoc over the entire digital world causing all sorts of trouble to pop up in the real one. Now Kenji must work together with Natsuki’s family (the 2 or 3 that matter at least) to save two worlds from imminent disaster (because the authorities don’t matter).
Thus the whole story unfolds in typical blockbuster fashion: (cyber)-battles will be fought, old grievances will be reconciled and boys will turn into men.
So the end result is a movie that wants to be a sci-fi action blockbuster AND a family drama AND a romance story. Problem is that none of the elements are particularly good in their own right.
– It fails as a romance story because the whole plotline is trite and forced. The lovebirds-to-be are complete anime-stereotypes (nerdy nice guy and cheerful nice girl) who lack any kind of believable chemistry. Initially the whole thing just feels like a plot-device to set the plot in motion. Then the middle act all but drops it. Finally, the end of the film also concludes the love story in the cheesiest way imaginable. That wouldn’t have been so bad in and of itself but it doesn’t feel believable. The 2 characters in question aren’t shown growing towards one another and learning to understand each other better. They just love each other when the plot needs them to.
– It fails as a family drama because an overwhelming majority of the characters is painfully one-dimensional. They’re just caricatures who stand in the background and occasionally showcase their one personality quirk. The few who don’t fall victim to this aren’t particularly interesting either, and are often no more than devices to shove the aforementioned crappy love-story in certain directions. The only somewhat interesting element in this plot-thread is a subplot dealing with a bastard-child who was branded an outcast of the family; but this thread is ultimately resolved in a sentimental manner.
– It fails as an action-packed blockbuster because most of the fights aren’t very interesting. The idea of having avatars do battle against a computer virus within Oz allowed for the makers to go crazy, and there are 2 or 3 spots where some creativity is showcased in regards to having fighters transform the arena to better suit their purposed. But as it goes on any semblance of choreography or creativity is thrown out of the window in favor or giant punches fuelled by the power of love and friendship. It’s sad that the best choreographed fight is a short demonstration early on in the film. Summer Wars sadly fails to avoid the usual anime-cliché where fights get less creative when the power-levels are increased.
So there you have it: 3 poorly executed and fundamentally flawed storylines that merge into one to create an unfocused and ultimately unsatisfying viewing experience.
Summer Wars was directed by Mamoru Hosoda, who previously directed the acclaimed ‘The Girl Who Leapt Through Time’. The irony here is that the two movies are almost polar opposites from an artistic standpoint.
– One tries to be a blend of many different popular anime-trappings and ends up unfocused and messy. The other has a very focused and well-thought out narrative that fully explores all the possibilities of its scenario.
– One features a huge cast of characters with no real standouts, the other features only a handful of characters most of which are (somewhat) realistic, well-developed and humanly flawed.
– One has a gimmick that ultimately serves as either window-dressing or a cheap way to create tension in the plot. The other has a gimmick that contributes the narrative in a meaningful way as an interesting dynamic.
In the end ‘Summer Wars’ failed to impress me. It tried to combine all kinds of different flavors only to end up with a product that doesn’t have any kind of flavor to it, much less one to call its own. It’s not a bad movie. The animation, especially in OZ, is wonderful (though the designs of the human characters are a little basic), the soundtrack is adequate and there are a few entertaining moments but after all the hype I excepted much more.
– Want an interesting love-story with a cool twist? Check the aforementioned ‘’The Girl Who Leapt Through Time’’. Same director, much better movie.
– Want a good story that explores familiar relationships? ‘’Haibane Renmei’’ features a surrogate family of sorts. Wonderful drama filled with realistic, richly-drawn characters and a captivating atmosphere.
– Want a cool science fiction story where a bunch of kids use strange technology in all sorts of imaginative and fun ways? Check out ‘’Dennou Coil’’. Same studio, similar concepts but explored in much more detail and with better characters to boot.
Kenji Koiso is a high school student/math genius who works part-time with his best friend, Takashi Sakuma as moderators for the massive, widely popular virtual world called OZ, where the norm consists of virtual shopping, business, and much more (Second Life, anyone?). One summer Natsuki Shinohara, Kenji’s senpai (who he also has a crush on) invites him to her grandmother’s 90th birthday celebration in the Jinnouchi clan estate. But Kenji is immediately caught up in Natsuki’s desperate request to act as Natsuki’s husband-to-be, much to his chagrin.
Kenji spends the initial parts of the movie getting acquainted with the rest of Natsuki’s relatives, and receives a mysterious email soon after. The message contains a huge numerical code, and, being a math whiz, Kenji opted to crack the code right away; he does so overnight. But as soon as he sends the solution, a virus – named Love Machine – successfully hacks within the OZ mainframe and causes turmoil in many parts of the world. As Kenji is deemed the culprit, it is up to him and his newfound family to solve the problem before more lives are put in danger. So, this is basically Digimon: The Movie adapted to a newer version, minus all the ‘mons making up that particular movie. While that thought might pull you away for whatever reason you might bear, Summer Wars’ narrative is more than just games and cyberspace. This movie touches on important themes, with family being one of its central points.
Okay, I lied. This movie IS all about games and cyberspace. For as much of a silly thing it is to base your movie on the inner workings of the Internet and social networking, it actually makes you feel weirdly sympathetic for those things. Perhaps Summer Wars teaches and/or reminds us that family can stretch beyond bloodlines, and we all can potentially build unbreakable bonds with total strangers even across the entire world, both real and virtual. Also, when it may seem that all the chips are down, there’s always hope, and it’s a hope we could always hold on to.
While the story’s great and all, Summer Wars would probably be nothing without its outstanding cast of characters. Stretching from the shy, introverted Kenji to the rest of Natsuki’s spunky, quirky, and empathetic family members, it truly feels like watching an ensemble cast bring their A-game to the table. Though it’s a lot of characters to take in immediately, seeing them once or twice is enough to make you remember them. Hell, I only remember a few names out of all the characters introduced, to be honest. There is a good mix of funny and sincere banter in-between, which really makes each character’s presence seem imperative and convince you to care about them. The main characters as well as the supporting ones play integral roles in bringing Love Machine down, and the movie does a good job making their strengths shine through.
But I think the best character out of all–and I think everyone is in unison on this–is Sakae Jinnouchi, Natsuki’s grandmother. Despite having minimal knowledge of the virtual world, she’s pretty much the one inspiring everyone to fight the infection and teach them the value of what family is. I also think it’s her courage and pretty much her overall personality that drives the story forward, as well as motivate the characters to do what they must.
Summer Wars is perhaps one of the best examples of an ambitious visual splendor, animated or not. The production values are all top-notch, with the near-perfect blend of CGI and cel-shaded effects bringing a lot of vibrancy to the movie’s cyberspace environment, the real world, and astounding attention to detail. Just thinking about the unimaginable number of sprites and avatars interacting in the entire virtual space is just insanity, and shows how much incredible amount of work was done to make this visual masterpiece happen. The animation style is no pushover either, as it is both breathtaking and awe-inspiring. Action scenes are all incredibly exciting, intense, and amazingly crafted that kept me at the edge of my seat for most of the movie. Character designs are also sharp and well-designed that all the more makes this one of the most magnificent-looking animated movies I’ve seen in a long while.
I don’t usually pay attention to movie soundtracks that much, mainly because most of them are so forgettable and barely intriguing; Summer Wars’s musical score is an exception. Top that with an excellent Japanese voice cast that brings much needed emotion and invokes life through the characters they play. I haven’t heard the English dub of the movie yet, but after seeing this movie, I’d be glad to that version when I finally get the chance to, all while reliving this grand adventure again a second time. Hell, I wouldn’t mind seeing it for a third go. Or a fourth. Who can blame me, really?
Summer Wars is definitely one of the best anime movies I’ve seen in years. It’s as enjoyable of a watch as it occasionally tugs on the heartstrings. It’s a good reminder that there actually IS something to feel positive about being in the Internet. For all its eye-popping, superb visual presentation, it’s also got a well-written, thematic, feel-good storyline and a fantastic cast of characters that will surely please the audiences both inside and outside of the anime realm. In short, if you haven’t seen this movie yet, you’re missing out on something special.
1: One Piece Film: Strong World
English: One Piece Film Strong World
Japanese: ワンピース フィルム ストロングワールド
MAL Score: 8.14
Upon hearing news that islands in East Blue are being destroyed, Monkey D. Luffy and his crew go to investigate. On their way, however, an outlandish pirate ship appears out of the sky, helmed by the infamous pirate Shiki “the Golden Lion”—a man who ate the Float-Float Fruit and the first ever prisoner to escape from Impel Down. In his quest to defeat the World Government, Shiki kidnaps Nami to be his own navigator and sends the rest of the Straw Hat Pirates to his floating islands as hostages, leaving her in a dilemma. Separated in a land under Shiki’s absolute control, Luffy and his crew must survive the mystifying terrain in order to bring back their navigator and friend.
I don’t wish to ruin anyone’s enjoyment, that’s why I will try to be as objective as possible and give all the arguments necessary for my score decisions.
BUT LET ME WARN YOU, THIS IS A NEGATIVE REVIEW AND IT MAY CONTAIN SOME SMALL SPOILERS, SO DON’T READ IT IF YOU KNOW IT MAY AFFECT YOUR VIEWING EXPERIENCE!
STORY: The story is nonexistent. There is absolutely nothing in this that could be considered a story. The crew just beats the crap out of the bad guy saving the damsel in distress in the process and all for some cheap reason. When I say that the reason is not worthy to mention is because the viewer just doesn’t seem to relate to the seriousness of the situation, mainly because we only HEAR about what the bad guy (Shiki) is going to do. There is almost NO VISUAL REPRESENTATION of the tragic that such a situation would represent, so the viewer remains unfazed emotionally most of the time. My score for the story is 3, yes you read it right, 3. All the hype about Eiichiro Oda being the one to write the script for this film I think it was mainly done for publicity reasons, as there is little substance to the actual story.
CHARACTERS: The characters that we all love and adore are full of clicheistic behaviour and unnatural reactions. But let me elaborate a bit on what I mean. The Straw Hat crew seem to behave throughout the story mostly in repetitive ways from past series’ episodes. Now, this wouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing if done with care and moderation, but here we just see this many behaviour patterns brought together from several different arcs from the anime series and mixed to form this “thing” that lacks substance. On the other side of the barricade, the bad guys are… well… just silly. I mean, Shiki is one bad dude, his power is awesome, I can’t deny that. I was really surprised by it, but his personality is just demeaning for the “legend” that he is supposed to represent and his actions and his master plan are just at a kindergarten level. His crew is stupid, and I mean stupid… There is no way such a crew could ever pose any threat to anyone, especially Gol D. Roger. They’re not scary, they’re not smart, they’re not powerful and they’re not even funny… especially funny. The jokes are terrible. And not only their jokes, but the jokes throughout the hole movie. They’re really D grade material. The only thing that really stands out about the characters is the clothes they wear. Now, I don’t dislike them, they’re pretty cool, but I think this is mainly for the fanservice and the publicity and don’t really fit well with the adventurous atmosphere that the One Piece world should have. So… for the characters I think a score of 4 is just about right. There are some good points but too few to make a difference. The not so good points just seem to overwhelm everything…
ANIMATION: The animation, at first really blowed me away, but slowly started to seem less and less attractive. The opening and the first part of the anime has astonishing graphics, wonderful views with top notch computer finishes. The battles are also very beautifully animated and really give a sense of awesomeness. But… yes… there is a but here too… There are some sequences where the animation just seems rushed and others where it seems plain. Not many I might add, but it still adds this feeling of inconsistency throughout the movie. Talking about inconsistency, the pace is very uneven. Either a fast pace is invoked or a slow one and they don’t really transition smoothly between one to another. So, for the animation, I think an 8 is appropriate, and yes, I don’t think I’m being generous. This is probably a fair score.
SOUND: Now… here you will find a problem. One of the first thing you may notice is that there is NO SOUND… yes, you heard me correctly… NO SOUND. And when I say this I mean there is no music through much of the film. The music is the most important thing when one wants to create an atmosphere suitable for the different situations that arise. And this movie lacks everything when it comes to atmosphere, and mainly because of the music. I was really disappointed by this. The characters’ voices are pretty decent… the ones’ everyone’s already familiar with, so no problem here, although there isn’t really much dialogue to be found. So for the sound, another 3, and now I’m being generous…
ENJOYMENT: I was really flustered about my expectations from this movie and it’s real value. So, while I can’t say I didn’t enjoy it I can’t say I felt any kind of satisfaction either. More like dissatisfaction. So… for the enjoyment, let’s say… 4 will do.
RECOMMENDATION: If you’re a One Piece fan, watch it. Also, if you’re age is not greater than 12 you’ll probably find it cool. Otherwise don’t waste your time with it.
OVERALL my score is 4. Now, I don’t know, maybe I was in a bad mood when I watched it and it deserves more, so don’t go screaming your eyes out at me. If you disagree with me then I’m really happy for you, because the time you spent watching this film was enjoyable and it probably became a happy memorable experience for you.
Story (9): The story is great. I suppose they couldn’t do more in just one movie. The Strong World: Episode 0 OVA helped buying a lot of time. Like in any One Piece arc, the story moves fastly, no matter what has been shown before.
Art (9): Once you watch One Piece (anime) and see how the art isn’t that good in many parts of the series, you’ll notice that this movie contains a great art. Like, Franky had a banana on his hair. What the hell is that? Brooke was smoking. Well, I liked it and all, but the clothes were strange, and I have to admit it. Anyway. Great art and this is it.
Sound(9): The sound is great, but it has nothing “unexpected”. New soundtrack, but once it’s a movie, it had to be like this. The voices were great (duh) like on the anime.
Character(10): Luffy’s crew is so original that I can’t give it less than 10. Their personalities, the clothes they were wearing (strange, but original)… Shiki was, as well, an outstanding character. I have nothing bad to add about the characters.
Enjoymen(9)t: If you like One Piece and you aren’t expecting a lot of this movie just because Oda wrote this, then you’ll love this movie and even give it a 10. The key is: Don’t overrate it.
Overall(9): Well, many may not agree with me and rate this movie with a 10. But in a general analysis, 9 is a great note for this movie. All of the terms were combined and this is what we got: 9. The absence of logic in some parts (once I may not write spoilers, I’m not telling which parts these are), besides One Piece lacks logic on the anime itself many times, makes me feel like if this movie deserves a 9.
We open with ships floating in the sky. We cut to a pirate who causes them to fall on a group of government ships. We then cut to silly putty brain and his crew wandering around on a floating island. Why? Well the film quickly moves into a flashback to show a pirate named Shiki, the same guy who made the boats float, trick elongated man’s paint chip eating roommate and his crew into crashing on the island so he can kidnap Nami. What’s the point of showing the events out of order? I have no idea, it doesn’t make sense. There’s no story reason for this structure nor does it create tension. Anyway, Shiki wants Nami to join his crew because he needs a good navigator so that he can take over the world. Okay, so the story is pretty cliche. How’s the execution? Well, the first issue is that Shiki isn’t even remotely threatening. He has sword legs which just look stupid and shouldn’t be functional. Swords, they don’t work that way. He also looks like the love child of Jay Leno and Kraven the hunter, making him very difficult to take seriously. Then there’s his crew, which consists of a clown who wears shoes that make fart sounds, a pink gorilla and a bunch of nameless henchmen. I’ve seen more menacing villains in the Care Bears. Maybe they’re trying to be funny, but there’s not a lot of humour here. There were all of two funny scenes. Another thing that really bugs me is that they use the term “Evolution” when what they mean is mutation. Science, how does it work?
The characters are pretty one-dimensional. Let’s be generous and say that they’re relying on us knowing them from the show. But those characters who I remember from what little I’ve seen of the show haven’t changed, except for their outfits. Rousai’s disappointing grandson is still an obnoxious moron and the rest of the cast is pretty under-developed and bland.
The art… I don’t even know where to start. I have to admit that I hate the art in One Piece. The mostly lidless and blank eyes, the mouths that always seem to have their teeth showing for no reason, the bizarre proportions, the random things that replace various body parts. I will give the film credit though, most of the fight scenes do look pretty cool.
The voice acting is okay. I really can’t stand Tanaka Mayumi’s performance, although I don’t really blame her since I know she can act. It’s probably the direction. The rest of the voice actors do a decent job albeit exaggerated a times. The strongest performances are probably from Cho and Okamura Akemi. The music is pretty underwhelming and forgettable.
The yuri factor is a 1/10. There isn’t any in this.
So, how does Strong World fare? It’s not that bad. The story is pretty stupid, Elastic girl’s brain damaged admirer is the worst aspect and the weak antagonists don’t help matters. To the film’s credit, the fight scenes are pretty good and a lot of it does fall into the “so stupid it’s funny category.” So, I’m going to give it a 4/10.
Did YOUR favorite anime make the cut? Let us know in the comments below!
1. One Piece Film: Strong World
2. Summer Wars
3. Higashi no Eden: Air Communication
4. Higashi no Eden Movie I: The King of Eden
5. Naruto: Shippuuden Movie 3 – Hi no Ishi wo Tsugu Mono