Summer Wars (2 Disc Edition) (2009)

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Released 16-Mar-2011

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Anime Main Menu Audio & Animation
Reversible Cover
Interviews-Cast & Crew
Featurette-Stage Greeting
Theatrical Trailer
Teaser Trailer
TV Spots
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 2009
Running Time 108:37 (Case: 114)
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (53:10)
Dual Disc Set
Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Mamoru Hosoda
Studio
Distributor
Naive
Madman Entertainment
Starring Michael Sinterniklaas
Brina Palencia
Pam Dougherty
Todd Haberkorn
J. Michael Tatum
Maxey Whitehead
John Swasey
Shelley Calene-Black
Case Amaray-Transparent-Dual
RPI $34.95 Music Akihiko Matsumoto
Shigeru Nishiyama
Yôji Takeshige


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None Japanese Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.85:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
English for the Hearing Impaired
Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

     A little while ago I reviewed an animated Japanese film called The Girl who Leapt through Time on its Blu-ray upgrade release. That film was the first feature film directed by Mamoru Hosada. His latest project, Summer Wars, has now been released in both double DVD and Blu-ray editions. This review is of the double DVD version and we hope to have a review of the Blu-ray version available soon.

     Summer Wars is another quality film from Hosada, whose reputation in anime is growing quickly. It is a film about two worlds, an extended family reunion and an all-pervading online world called Oz. The story starts with a teenage maths and computer geek, Kenji being asked to accompany a pretty young girl, Natsuki, to her extended family's reunion at their country home. He is delighted but apprehensive as he has not had much luck with girls. Kenji also has a part time job, doing maintenance coding for the online world of Oz. The family is huge, with lots of interesting characters in it and they all gather for the 90th birthday of their matriarch, Sakae. He is pretty overwhelmed as he is only used to his own small family and this feeling becomes much worse when Natsuki announces that he is her fiancé. She wants to please Sakae by bringing home an acceptable boyfriend, so has concocted the story about her and Kenji. Many of her uncles, aunts and cousins attend the reunion and they are joined by the long lost black sheep of the family, Uncle Wabisuke. He disappeared 10 years before and has been working on advanced artificial intelligence programming.

     The action in the online world kicks off with Kenji receiving a mysterious SMS message asking him to decode something. Despite it being very time consuming he decodes it and responds. The online world immediately starts to be taken over by what seems to be his avatar, causing the police to decide that he is causing the problems. The online problems start to affect the real world with traffic chaos, computer system malfunctions and problems with life support systems. Kenji and Natsuki's extended family must team up, re-enter the game and solve the problem, whilst also trying to maintain family harmony.

     This is a high quality animated film, both technically and from an artistic perspective. The story is intriguing and well told, mixing an interesting, stylised online world with the natural beauty of the Japanese countryside. The animation is of very high quality and is hand-drawn I believe. There is one scene near the beginning of the film when the characters are travelling on a bus through a forest resulting in moving dappled light against the seats. Magnificent! The voice acting (in both the English and Japanese versions) is high quality really selling the story to the audience. It is touching, funny, exciting and dramatic. The theme comparing the modern electronic world with the importance of family is a poignant one which is very relevant in today's fast paced environment.

    The set contains two discs, with the main feature on the first and all the extras on the second. This film is well worth seeing and is suitable for older pre-teens and teenagers, along with their parents. Recommended.

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Transfer Quality

Video

     The video quality is very good with some minor issues. The feature is presented in a 1.85:1 aspect ratio which is the original aspect ratio. It is 16x9 enhanced.

     The picture was very clear and sharp although it was occasionally affected by some background grain and some minor blocking during fast motion. The colour was excellent with the animated colours of the world of Oz bursting off the screen. There were also some minor interlacing artefacts.

     There are subtitles in English for the Hearing Impaired which are clear and easy to read. They seem to be based on the Japanese language version rather than the English version. There are also default subtitles for onscreen signs etc.

     There is a layer change during playback at 53:10 which is quite well done.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

     The audio quality is excellent for DVD. This disc contains a Japanese soundtrack in Dolby Digital 5.1 plus the same in English.

     Dialogue was clear and easy to hear and understand. The score by Akihiko Matsumoto was a wonderful accompaniment to the film, fitting all the different themes in the film. The surround speakers were very well used throughout, with enveloping atmosphere, lots of directional effects and music. The subwoofer was also well used for thumps, thuds, car noises, the battles in Oz and music.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Menu

     The menu was quite cute, featuring music and motion.

Reversible Cover

     The cover can be English with OFLC marker or Japanese without.

Disc 2

Interview with Director at Locarno (13:04)

     The director talks to an unknown interviewer at the Locarno Film Festival in Italy about the film, audience reactions, attending international film festivals, comparison to his first film and future plans. It is interesting but he does ramble quite a bit. In Japanese with subtitles.

Stage Greeting (19:58)

     This is footage from a film preview in Tokyo, with warriors marching in, the director and stars being introduced and answering questions. OK but very Japanese.

Cast Interviews (22:23)

     A big set of voice cast interviews featuring most of the leads in the Japanese voice cast talking about their characters and the experience. Not a lot of depth here. Also includes behind scenes footage from recording sessions.

Theatrical Trailer (1:02)

     Japanese Trailer.

Teaser Trailers (0:31, 0:22)

TV Spots (3:02)

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    The Region 1 version is pretty similar  however does not include the Stage Greeting extra, making Region 4 a slight winner.

Summary

     A funny, exciting, dramatic and thoroughly enjoyable Japanese animated film.

     The video quality is very good. The audio quality is excellent for DVD. Extras are decent but lack substance.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Daniel Bruce (Do you need a bio break?)
Wednesday, June 22, 2011
Review Equipment
DVDSONY BDP-S760 Blu-ray, using HDMI output
DisplayLG Scarlet 42LG61YD 106cm Full HD LCD. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderBuilt into BD player. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationPioneer VSX-511
SpeakersMonitor Audio Bronze 2 (Front), Bronze Centre & Bronze FX (Rears) + Sony SAW2500M Subwoofer

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