Summer Wars was my third Hosoda movie, after Wolf Children and The Girl Who Leapt Through Time. To my delight, though not to my surprise (having heard many things about all 3 films before seeing them), Summer Wars ended up being quite different from the other two movies. It has a large, if not huge, cast of characters, technology plays an important role in the story, and – in a way – it has a much more positive overall tone.
That doesn’t mean it’s not a tearjerker like the other two movies, it just means the tears are happier. Summer Wars is less focused on individual characters and their relationships (though that’s not to say its characters feel undefined), instead opting for a big family drama and all the baggage that comes with it. There are sad moments and painful moments, but in the end the whole family comes together and they manage to triumph over the antagonist. And I really loved that, because it was a big climax but it was also very positive. I like sad climaxes too, but what I really want to see is more happy climaxes.
The only real issue I had with Summer Wars was the alternate/video game world. It didn’t make much sense to me, I don’t think it was ever explained or explored very thoroughly, but mostly what bugged me was that I couldn’t relate to any of it, because it took so many liberties in its adaptation of MMOs. Sure, I understand they wanted to relax the mechanics to allow for the ability to tell a story through the medium, but as a result I just thought it looked silly. But in the end that didn’t actually matter a huge amount, because the “real world” side of the story was strong enough. Great movie in my opinion.