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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
The importance of family, eating meals together, and being true to one's heritage. Courage and integrity are important themes.
Positive Role Models
Unlike so many portrayals of the elderly, the 90-year-old grandmother here is a sharp-witted matriarch who leads by example. Despite awkwardness and a sensitivity to rejection, Kenji learns bravery and uses his gifted math skills for good.
Violence & Scariness
Cartoon fighting violence, especially when avatars do battle in cyberspace. A character drives a car recklessly in the midst of stopped traffic. An elderly woman pulls out a spear and swings it repeatedly at one of her sons.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
An uncle asks his niece and her assumed boyfriend whether they've "done it" yet and are in "the family way." When a child asks his uncle what he's looking at on his phone, he tells him, "Women with big boobs."
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Occasional mild profanity: "bulls--t," "ass," "damn," hell," "crap."
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Beer and wine drinking at family meals; no one acts drunk. Some cigarette smoking.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Summer Wars is a 2009 anime from Japan about an 11th-grade math genius who unwittingly unleashes a form of artificial intelligence that is determined to wreak havoc in Oz (aka cyberspace), robbing millions of email-access and GPS systems and ultimately leading to the planet's potential destruction. There is some cartoonish violence -- especially in Oz, where the avatars of the characters do battle with this monstrous artificial intelligence that starts out looking like a somewhat scary balloon boy and morphs into something large and demonic. There is occasional mild profanity ("bulls--t," "ass") and some smoking and drinking. An uncle asks his niece and her assumed boyfriend whether they've "done it" yet and are in "the family way." When a child asks his uncle what he's looking at on his phone, he tells him, "Women with big boobs." On a positive note, unlike so many movies in which the elderly are portrayed as helpless and doddering, the 90-year-old matriarch of the family is sharp-witted and assertive, just as likely to come up with solutions to the crises at hand as the younger characters around her. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
This is an engaging and beautifully rendered anime that is as much about love and family as it is about the ever-tightening grip technology has on daily lives. The surrealism of the cyberspace battle scenes among the different avatars alone makes Summer Wars a stylish and innovative movie, but for all its present-day sci-fi-esque reality conveyed through computers and smartphones, the importance of roots and tradition are held to just as high of a standard. This comes through most clearly in the matriarch of the movie, a 90-year-old grandmother who is firmly rooted in tradition without seeming like a relic and who is just as take-charge as anyone younger in the movie without seeming like she's trying to act younger than she actually is.
There are a few story holes, but they aren't glaring enough to distract, and this is more than offset by the beautiful detail of the animation -- animation that just as exquisitely conveys a traditional family dinner as it does a cyberspace battle royale. The story also manages to stay focused and simple, even to the point that even those who aren't especially interested in gaming, hacking, and any facet of the culture surrounding the Internet will still find this enjoyable and easy to understand.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.