SUMMER WARS An apocalyptic take on the social network comes from, of all places, Mamoru Hosoda's childlike, yay-go-team japanime about a hijacked Second Life–esque world. Shy math whiz Kenji joins pretty, older schoolmate Natsuki on a trip to her family's rural ancestral home, where he's supposed to pose as her boyfriend so that her appealingly fierce great-grandmother isn't disappointed on her birthday. But Kenji is all nerves, and — oh, yeah — he also inadvertently compromises the security of a worldwide online community called Oz, allowing its takeover by a sinister AI being that resembles Fantasia's Chernobog when angry. Hosoda toggles between airborne clenched-teeth cage matches in Oz's avatar cutesplosion, and bickering among Natsuki's samurai-descended clan as they work to overcome the real-world chaos caused by Oz, which involves a wayward cousin. As Kenji's brave-nerd maturation chugs along, interesting comparisons are set up between the societal structures of the family and of the virtual sphere, updating age-old questions of identity and pride. But corn is corn, and when everyone starts pulling together — which ultimately means Natsuki's favorite card game of hanafuda will prove to hold life-or-death importance — it's hard to appreciate things like the character detail amid the insufferably squealy voicing and arbitrary suspense. (Nicolas Rapold) (Sunset 5)
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