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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

Summer Wars aka SamÔ w˘zu [Blu-ray]

 

(Mamoru Hosoda, 2009)

 

 

Review by Gary Tooze

 

Production:

Theatrical: Nippon Television Network Corporation (NTV) / Warner

Video: Funimation

 

Disc:

Region: 'A"-locked (as verified by the Momitsu region FREE Blu-ray player)

Runtime: 1:54:16.756

Disc Size: 41,875,773,709 bytes

Feature Size: 33,294,403,584 bytes

Video Bitrate: 29.26 Mbps

Chapters: 22

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: February 15th, 2011

 

Video:

Aspect ratio: 1.78:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

Audio:

Dolby TrueHD Audio English 2393 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 2393 kbps / 16-bit (AC3 Embedded: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 448 kbps / DN -3dB)
Dolby TrueHD Audio Japanese 2352 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 2352 kbps / 24-bit (AC3 Embedded: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 448 kbps / DN -4dB)

 

Subtitles:

English, none

 

Extras:

Interview with Ryunosuke Kamiki (Kenji Koiso) - 6:14 in 480i
Interview with Nanami Sakuraba (Natsuki Shinohara) - 2:21 in 480i
Interview with Mitsuki Tanimura (Kazuma Ikezawa) - 4:57 in 480i
Interview with Ayumi Saito (Wabisuke Jinnouchi) - 3:19 in 480i
Interview with Sumiko Fuji (Sakae Jinnouchi) - 5:32 in 480i
Interview with Mamoru Hosoda (Director) at Locarno International Film Festival - 13:04 in 480i
Teaser trailers (2 trailers) 1:34 in 480i
Teaser TV spot - :17 in 480i
Original trailer - 1:52 in 480i
TV spots (6 spots) - 1:59 in 480i

Previews

• Liner notes and 4 double sided cards with characters

 

Bitrate:

 

 

Description: From the visionary directory of The Girl Who Leapt Through Time (2007 Japanese Academy Award winner, Best Animated Feature) comes the story of an ordinary family going to extraordinary lengths to avert the impending cyber apocalypse!

Kenji is your typical teenage misfit. He s good at math, bad with girls, and spends most of his time hanging out in the all-powerful, online community known as OZ. His second life is the only life he has until the girl of his dreams, Natsuki, hijacks him for a starring role as a fake fiancÚ at her family reunion. Things only get stranger from there. A late-night email containing a cryptic mathematic riddle leads to the unleashing of a rogue AI intent on using the virtual word of OZ to destroy the real world, literarily. As Armageddon looms on the horizon, Kenji and his new family set aside their differences and band together to save the worlds they inhabit in this near-perfect blend of social satire and science fiction.

 (AnimeNewsNetwork.com).

***

THE JAPANESE BOX OFFICE SENSATION! When timid eleventh-grader and math genius Kenji Koiso is asked by older student and secret crush Natsuki to come with her to her family's Nagano home for a summer job, he agrees without hesitation. Natsuki's family, the Jinnouchi clan, dates back to the Muromachi era, and they've all come together to celebrate the 90th birthday of the spunky matriarch of the family, Sakae. That's when Kenji discovers his summer job is to pretend to be Natsuki's fiancÚ and dance with her at the birthday celebration. As Kenji attempts to keep up with Natsuki's act around her family, he receives a strange math problem on his cell phone which, being a math genius, he can't resist solving. As it turns out, the solution to the mysterious equation causes a hijacking of the social networking site through which most of the world's social and business traffic flows. It s up to Kenji and his new fake family to put reality back in order.

***

Kenji is a teenage math prodigy recruited by his secret crush Natsuki for the ultimate summer job - passing himself... off as Natsuki's boyfriend for four days during her grandmother's 90th birthday celebration. But when Kenji solves a 2,056 digit math riddle sent to his cell phone, he unwittingly breaches the security barricade protecting Oz, a globe-spanning virtual world where millions of people and governments interact through their avatars, handling everything from online shopping and traffic control to national defense and nuclear launch codes. Now a malicious AI program called the Love Machine is hijacking Oz accounts, growing exponentially more powerful and sowing chaos and destruction in its wake.

 

 

The Film:

Mamoru Hosoda's "Summer Wars," an official entry for the animated feature Oscar, imagines an online community known as Oz, a virtual world so vast that it has become a marketplace, a social media site and a gaming enterprise — in short, the engine that drives the electronic universe.

The film certainly functions as a cautionary tale about humanity's increasing reliance on technology, but it's also a superb example of Japanese anime, balancing science fiction fantasy with a paean to the timeless value of family life.

Excerpt from the L.A. Times located HERE

Much like the rest of the movie, that's real enough that we can easily overlook the bits of the science-fiction story that may seem a bit silly to an increasingly web-savvy audience. "Summer Wars", after all, is about how a family that can pull together can take on any challenge, even though it's a thing in flux, losing and gaining members in various ways. Hosoda and Okudera don't come right out and say this, just as they didn't spell out what they were saying about youth and missed opportunities in "The Girl Who Leapt through Time", but that's what makes their movies surprisingly rich - there is that universal idea there, whether you're looking for it or not.

Excerpt from efilmcritic located HERE

Image :    NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.

As we have said repeatedly - digital animation is can be essentially flawless - at the Blu-ray level (1080P) it has none of the common deficiencies that we can find when transferring live-action film to high-definition digital - things like edge-enhancement or noise removal manipulation. Summer Wars has very little haze or blurriness produced as intentional effects to create the perception of motion. It is beautifully bright and smooth throughout. I suspect that in transferring digital animation to Blu-ray they have obtained the highest accuracy of the original appearance - and the animator's intent. Summer Wars is rife with vibrant eye-candy and looks quite marvelousThe animation style alternates between the, more passive, 'normal family existence and the, visually chaotic, Online 'virtual' one. Contrast is exceptional consistent and, frankly, there isn't a pixel out of place in this transfer. I was highly impressed.

 

CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Audio :

Funimation have done this audio correctly including both the original Japanese as well as the popular English DUB (that it is defaulted to). Each are equally rendered in a Dolby TrueHD 5.1 track at over 2000 kbps. I sampled both lossless transfers and there, of course, is a difference in the voice characterizations - almost creating a totally different film experience. I did the bulk of my viewing and completed with the original Japanese track. There aren't as many effect sounds as you might anticipate but there are a few notables and those separations are crisp and can surprise when emanating from the rear speakers. Depth is sporadic but can be volatile in the 'virtual world' which produces most of the dynamic activity - although there are dramatic explosions in the 'real world too. The optional English subtitles are, thankfully, NOT DUB-titles and my Momitsu has identified it as being a region 'A'-locked disc.

 

Extras :

Despite mention of a cast commentary - I couldn't find it but there are about 1/2 hour's worth of interviews with the Japanese language cast (Ryunosuke Kamiki, Nanami Sakuraba, Mitsuki Tanimura, Ayumi Saito and Sumiko Fuji) plus the director, Mamoru Hosoda, during the Locarno International Film Festival. These are in 480i (as are all extras) and in Japanese with English subtitles. Beyond that are some short trailers and TV Spots. There is a liner notes flyer and 4 double sided cards with characters in the package case.

 

 

BOTTOM LINE:
What a refreshingly unique and imaginative film experience. I believe this was Japan's official entry for the animated feature Oscar in 2009 and I had heard a lot of positive comments so I was in a high level of anticipation before spinning the disc. This was close to 2-hours in length but I was wishing it would last even longer. Hosoda has created a world that you can slip into with comfortable ease and the online 'Oz' expands that with bravado, excitement and adventure. There is a definite message here but I wasn't overwhelmed by it in any preachy context. This Blu-ray gave me a grand home theater viewing and I wish I could repeat it for the very first time. Those keen to explore this inventive world will, undoubtedly, find it a rewarding experience - one we can definitely recommend! 

Gary Tooze

February 12th, 2011

About the Reviewer: Hello, fellow Beavers! I have been interested in film since I viewed a Chaplin festival on PBS when I was around 9 years old. I credit DVD with expanding my horizons to fill an almost ravenous desire to seek out new film experiences. I currently own approximately 9500 DVDs and have reviewed over 3500 myself. I appreciate my discussion Listserv for furthering my film education and inspiring me to continue running DVDBeaver. Plus a healthy thanks to those who donate and use our Amazon links.

Although I never wanted to become one of those guys who focused 'too much' on image and sound quality - I find HD is swiftly pushing me in that direction.

Gary's Home Theatre:

60-Inch Class (59.58” Diagonal) 1080p Pioneer KURO Plasma Flat Panel HDTV PDP6020-FD

Oppo Digital BDP-83 Universal Region FREE Blu-ray/SACD Player
Momitsu - BDP-899 Region FREE Blu-ray player
Marantz SA8001 Super Audio CD Player
Marantz SR7002 THX Select2 Surround Receiver
Tannoy DC6-T (fronts) + Energy (centre, rear, subwoofer) speakers (5.1)

APC AV 1.5 kVA H Type Power Conditioner 120V

Gary W. Tooze

 

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