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.
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.
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.
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.
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.