Category Archives: Anime

Summer Wars and Digimon: Our War Game are Both Great Films

Stop me if you’ve heard this one; an anime movie with a distinct visual style directed by Mamoru Hosoda stars a young adult cast who have to battle a growing threat on the internet before it kills them in real life.  Okay, you know what I’m getting at here.  Digimon: Our War Game and Summer Wars are so similar to each other that it’s no wonder people compare these two films.

I heard about the comparison between these two films so much that I knew I had to check Summer Wars out.  I finally got to do that, appropriately enough, this Summer.

What I find interesting is how akin these two films are.  Did Hosoda like the concept so much he just had to remake the film again but in his own image?  And it’s not just a remake of the idea.  Certain scenes and images are so alike it really makes you stop and wonder.  Hell, if Digimon came after Summer Wars then something weird would be going on.  But that’s not the case, Our War Game came out nine years before Summer Wars.

I’m not going to talk about how similar they are to each other.  Many other people have already done that and this article does a good job of it.  Check it out.  Instead, I want to talk about other aspects between these two films.

There are also some neat side-by-side comparisons between the two films at the listed article

There are also some neat side-by-side comparisons between the two films at the listed article

For instance, Digimon embraces the notion of an online battle very nicely.  Though Season 1 played around with the internet in hacking terms, never did the kids and their partners actually visit the internet.  It was either the digital world or the real world.  As such, the internet could act as a gateway between these two worlds as demonstrated by the kids and their partners in the movie.

With strict ground rules never established in Season 1, the movie could take certain liberties with the franchise that wouldn’t seem farfetched or noncanon.  The internet battle was one of them and the DNA digivolution was another.

Though the kids in Summer Wars never got to visit the internet, they had the next best thing which was their avatars.  The avatars were very like Our War Game’s partner digimon with the exception that the humans were in full control of them.  Much of the film’s visual appeal and art stems from the weird avatars and their fight sequences.

The main antagonists have probably the strongest similarities between the two films.  Their actions and subsequent consequences may slightly differ but it’s their origins that are the most contrasting.  Love Machine was created as a virus by the American government and Diaboromon was…actually…we don’t know!  We have no idea how he came to be!  To me, that’s kind of scary.  Where on earth did this internet destroying, data eating, powerhouse of a digimon come from?  The fact that he still did not die and actually come back in the fourth movie speaks volumes on how hard he is to kill.  His bug-like nature fits him pretty well for a foe that just would not die.  To me, he’s the stronger antagonist compared to the game-adoring bad guy in Summer Wars.

The overall theme of people coming together to stop a foe works the best in Summer Wars.  And I mainly bring this up because our main protagonist, Kenji, doesn’t really save the day until the very end of the movie.  The Jinnouchi family helps him out throughout the entire film.  They bring equipment for him, the grandma gives them hope, the uncle advises him how to defeat Love Machine, Kazuma fights Love Machine with King Kazma, and Natsuki defeats Love Machine in Koi-Koi.  There’s a definite sense of we’re all in this together and this blossoms in the triumphant Koi-Koi battle against Love Machine.  I love it.

But…

I liked how Our War Game did it as well.  Unlike Kenji, Tai was having sooo muuuuch trooooouble trying to get his team together.  Dropped phone calls, people on vacations, uneasy relationships, etc.  Instead of “we’re in this together” it was more like “this is all we got.”  The music, which I mentioned before I liked so much, even seems to make fun of Tai as he tries desperately to scramble his team together, it’s hilarious.  And in the end it’s like his troubles were rewarded with not his team coming through but the whole world instead.  That kind of switch plays into Our War Game better than Summer Wars.

Truth be told, I find Summer Wars’ ending easier to swallow than Our War Game.  Our War Game came out in what, 2000?  Though the internet was just taking off by then, not many people were using it, especially in less developed countries.  By 2009, we see a dramatic usage increase throughout the entire globe.  This dramatic increase combined with Summer Wars’ OZ makes the ending more believable to me because everyone is using the internet and as such, the ending has more weight behind it.

Internet users per 100 inhabitants. From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Global_Internet_usage (Sorry if the image did not load, the image loads when I edit the article but not when viewing the article itself)

Oh and you have to love how already dated Our War Game is.  Seeing them scramble to try to retain their internet connection is humorous.  And oh God Izzy, that computer is huge.  Probably a decade from now Summer Wars will be just as dated.

Gosh, after writing this article, I’ve come to realize how good these two films are.  I honestly can’t say if a non-Digimon fan would like Our War Game.

Wait.

Hang on, I’ll go ask Mary, she saw the film with me and she doesn’t know anything about Digimon.

She said she liked it but she couldn’t fully enjoy it because she had no idea who any of the characters were.  That’s almost exactly what this guy was talking about.  Here’s the passage:

“The biggest difference between them is the large cast both hold. Digimon uses pre-established characters that people can not automatically jump in and understand. Summer Wars on the other hand, introduces a complete new cast of characters, all being developed in front of the viewers eyes. Digimon, having 50+ anime episodes that allowed the character development needed does not accomplish what Summer Wars establishes in a 90 minute film.”

And there you go.  People who are a fan of Digimon will love both films but if you are unfamiliar to Digimon you should probably see season 1 before seeing this Our War Game.  But if you don’t want to spend all your time doing that, Summer Wars is just as good and is a great thrill ride.  Check both out, while Summer is still here.

Digimon Our War Game: Sub vs. Dub

I didn’t realize this at first while I was writing this article but apparently we’re at the 15th anniversary of Digimon!  I can’t believe it, that’s about 3/5th of my life!  It’s certainly interesting to think about.  Digimon was one of those fast fads that only lasted a year or two.  Apparently, the creators knew that as well.  A little more than a year after it premiered in America, the Digimon movie came out and we went fucking bananas.  It was almost the same hype as the Pokemon movie.  I really wanted to see it in theaters but my parents didn’t take me much to my chagrin.

When I finally saw it on VHS about a year later, I realized that this was not a very good movie!

The movie wasn’t good because the American producers wanted to tie three independent movies together to make a coherent plot and this failed miiiiserably.  Each of the three parts seem so distant from each other that no amount of forced cohesion could make it work.  Even the three parts of the movie varied in how good they were.  The first two parts were great but the third part was just baaaaaad.

Digimon Movie Chart

Even so, the second part of the movie (whose original title was “Our War Game”) was definitely the best.  Talk to any Digimon fan about this movie and they can agree that the second part was amazing.  Hell, if the producers had cut out the third part and just leave the first two parts in, the Digimon movie would have been many times better.

As such, is the Dub as good if not better than the Sub?  Well, no, but it is certainly close.

For one thing both the Dub and the Sub had stellar voice acting.  By now, the voice actors know their characters so well that emotional and comical moments are top notch.  Mona Marshall, who voices English Izzy, is fantastic and really nails her character.  Izzy always works best as Tai’s wingman and the chemistry between these two buds has never been this tight.

And I have to give credit to the Dub for really highlighting the heroes’ difficult task of defeating Diaboromon.  He’s strong, he’s unforgiving and to top it off, Wargreymon and Metalgarurumon are becoming more and more sluggish thanks to the constant emails.

Digimon Adventure Our War Game (XviD DVD-Raw) [5FF8BEE1]

So where does the Dub go wrong?

Well, besides the forced plot cohesion, many small things add up that would have otherwise been trivial.  Kari’s unnecessary narration is like…ugh…just shut uuuuup.  We don’t need exposition for every god damn scene that has no dialogue!  The forced plot cohesion mentioned earlier is uncomfortably wedged in and really sets the film back.  Besides that, the Sub’s comical moments are tighter and feel more natural.

The primary source I would point to is the Dub’s music which is kind of inappropriate.  The pop music can distract the viewer’s attention when it should be focused on the plot.  The Sub’s soundtrack, on the other hand, includes not just the original theme but symphonic songs as well.  In particular, Ravel’s Bolero, one of my favorite classical pieces, is used extremely well in this movie.

Ravel’s Bolero starts slow and builds and builds and builds and builds upon itself!  It starts with a slow drumbeat and ends with blaring trumpets and a crashing beat!  And this is exactly what Our War Game is about.  A threat whose strength increases slowly and slowly until it becomes and almost unstoppable threat.  Great use of that song.

“When Johnny Comes Marching Home” is another song that is used inexplicably well during the lighter and more comical moments of the film.  It really gets you going as you watch these preteens try their damndest to stop Diaboromon even when half of their team is out of commission.

Izzy, Bathroom, Our War Game, Digimon

I still can’t believe this scene was in the movie

 

And this brings me to my overall point.  The Sub doesn’t take itself too seriously.  Like a clown trying to balance on a tight rope, you know you need to be worried but you also know everything’s going to be alright in the end.  The Dub on the other hand is too confused on what it wants to be.  It wants to be serious but the corny jokes oversaturate the movie and end up confusing it.

As a final note, as much as I criticize the Dub’s soundtrack, there is one part in the Dub where the music worked to its advantage incredibly well.

The birth of Omnimon is done quite differently between the Sub and Dub and whereas normally the Sub would be better, here they’re on near equal footing.

Have a look.  Here’s the Dub

 

Alright, now here’s the Sub

 

Whereas the Dub’s music is uplifting and suits that of a hero being born, the Sub’s music is intense and seems more like the birth of Jesusmon (which he basically is).  Nonetheless, with such different interpretations of Omnimon the end results work out incredibly well and fits nicely for both movies (however, the Dub is once again ruined by pop music so boooooo).

So in the end, the Sub won out.  But the comparison is not done yet!  There’s a movie out there that is so strikingly similar to Digimon: Our War Game that many articles have been written about it.  I aim to throw my hat in as well when next week I compare Our War Game to Summer Wars.

The Best and Worst Thing About Digimon Season One

Digimon was a staple of my late childhood ever since I first found out about it near the end of 1999.  Though the series was already near half way done, FoxKids would continuously show previous episodes on the weekdays which allowed me time to catch up and become familiar with this great show and its characters.  Though I can write all day about Digimon and my childhood, I want to focus on the best thing and the worst thing about Digimon Season 1.

The Best Thing:

This was hard to pinpoint what exactly the best thing about Digimon Season 1 was.  It could have easily been the music, Izzy and Tentomon, or the digivolutions.  However, after thinking about it, I have to say it was probably the Myotismon Arc.  This was a series of episodes that really took the show to a whole new level.

The arc starts off strong with the kids trying to reunite again eventually culminating to them returning to the real world.  Once they’re back, they have to deal with Myotismon and his henchmen while trying to keep a low profile.  The arc builds and builds and peaks in the finale with Gatomon and Kari reunited and defeating Myotismon with an all-powerful Celestial Arrow.  However, Myotismon, in true vampire fashion, rises from the grave and reaches his Mega form which brought about the mega evolutions in Agumon and Gabumon.

There are a lot of things that make this arc great.  For instance, one-by-one the digidestined’s digimon digivolves (say that three times fast…) to their Ultimate form, taking on any foes that stand in their way.  This brings about new digimon foes that can challenge the kids and push them to become even greater.

The real world element is also used very well.  The kids have to guard their secret and make sure no one knows about their partners.  Also, we see what kind of effects the digimon have on the real world, something that season 3would later expand upon.  Electronic devices don’t work and most of the time, destruction happens.  But probably best of all is that we see the kids in their homes, interacting with their parents.  It is relaxing to watch them get a break after being chased by monsters for many episodes.

The best part comes near the end of the arc as episodes build to the climatic showdown.  Everything important happens in one day.  As such, the usual standalone episode format is cast aside and embraces a more connecting narrative.  Partners who have digivolved in the previous episode stay digivolved in the next one.  The digidestined, once scattered, slowly find their way to the television station where everyone, save Angemon, has digivolved to the Ultimate form to face Myotismon.

And then, death!  Wizardmon dies saving Kari and we see one of the first, real emotional blows in Digimon that struck us hard.  A kind character, who was Gatomon’s only friend, was dead and his passing catalyzed Gatomon into digivolving to her final form, Angewomon.  Then, everyone lends her their power and she strikes down Myotismon in one blow.

As such, one of the real disappointments in the series is when we found out Myotismon is not dead but still alive and in his Mega form meaning Wizardmon’s death was (almost) for nothing.  The arc should have ended there but they continued it on for two more episodes and those two episodes brought down the importance of finding the 8th child.  Speaking of arcs…

The Worst Thing:

Many shows usually have a rough start in trying to find themselves and who they really are.  Poor writing, actors unsure of their character motivations, and untested people can really stagger a new show.  Digimon Season 1is no exception to this.

When I got my Digimon Season 1 DVD Boxset more than a year ago, the first thing I watched was the Etemon Arc and I just went from there.  I skipped the entire Devimon Arc because I just don’t like it!  There are a host of reasons why I just don’t like this part of Digimon.

The first 14 episodes or so are slow, awkward, and formulaic.  The usual one or two digivolutions per episode means that the fights don’t happen often and when they do they are pretty short.

Also, with seven protagonists a lot of character establishment had to be developed, something that the later seasons’ far fewer main characters didn’t worry about.  As such, episodes two through seven were focused on a particular protagonist and that can be a chore to get through.

To be fair though, when File Island split up and we had a lot more personal time with the characters, their mini-adventures were amusing, especially seeing their now established personas bounce off of each other.

But at this point, the characters are still too annoying and the voice acting is…ehhhh.  That’s why the Etemon Arc, and especially the Myotismon Arc, was a hit as we don’t have to go through character establishment and we can have good action and story development.  Plus, you’re not really missing anything from skipping the first arc except for an angel dying or whatever.

Herculeskabuterimon

Also the worst thing was that Herculeskabuterimon wasn’t in it, I am sad.