Comic Books Magazine

Summer Wars Part 1 Review

Posted on the 21 November 2013 by Kaminomi @OrganizationASG

Summer Wars Part 1Title: Summer Wars
Genre: Comedy, Romance, Sci-Fi
Publisher: Kadokawa Shoten (JP), Vertical Inc. (US)
Original Creator: Mamoru Hosoda
Story/Art: Mamoru Hosoda, Iqura Sugimoto
Serialized in: Young Ace
Original Release Date: October 22, 2013

As someone who watched the Summer Wars film, I was pumped Vertical managed to nab the Summer Wars manga series. Considering the good  job they did with 5 Centimeters Per Second (something I bet had to do with the material, though a good translation and design help), I was wondering if I would feel the same way about the Summer Wars manga.

Is it on track to be just as good, even better than the film? Not at this moment. It’ll depend on how Part 2 ends. That’s no disrespect to the manga though, as it is still an exhilarating romp in the world of OZ with entirely too many characters, some really crazy events involving the internet, and (for some people) Natsuki in her Kendo gear, which we didn’t get in the film. However, I do have a few nits to pick with the adaptation.

For those who haven’t watched or heard of Summer Wars, it tells the story of Kenji Koiso, a high school student who failed to get out of the first round of the Japan Math Olympics. He plans on working with his friend Sakama as a maintenance guy on OZ, a global virtual reality world where everyone, from the normal mundanes to big time politicians, uses it as an everyday function, and everything, from stop lights to phones, is connected to it. Instead, his crush, Natsuki Shinohara, asks him to come with her and celebrate her great-grandmother’s birthday. After accepting her invitation, heading to the countryside, and meeting her great-grandmother (and all the other family members), Kenji makes a stab at getting used to what’s going on. But after solving a random code sent to his phone, he ends up causing a mess that not only threatens the Jinnouchi family, but also the entire country of Japan, and he has to be the one who fixes it.

The manga, for at least Part I, manages to follow the film to a tee. So, if you watched it, you’ll get to see Kenji heading up to the countryside with Natsuki on the train attempting to strike a conversation by using his math skills (Nerd). You’ll also get to see Granny threaten one of the “antagonists” in the series in Wabisuke with that lance, and it will still get you excited. Though you may not have come to terms with how the manga is not animated and popping out at your eyes visually, overall Sugimoto looks to have done a fine job with the design of the characters and the backgrounds, as they look pleasing and aren’t distracting. The OZ designs feel slightly weak since they’re not exactly animated or in color, but they’re serviceable enough. Overall, the manga retains the film’s spirit, with some thought provoking ideas about the internet, the different views shared by different people on what really matters, and the interesting mistakes made by kids.I still wish those kids didn’t distract Kazuma while he was facing The Love Machine. That sucked.

The only way this manga will live up to the film depends is how Part 2 ends, as Part I feels too inconclusive to really say right now. My biggest problems with Part 1 are two things: the action panels and the extra scenes added to the manga. The battle between King Kazma and Love Machine (the hacking program, and the major antagonist) is quick and doesn’t feel exciting at all. I guess, for me, it looked a lot better when it was in motion instead of as panels; it makes me wonder how Sugimoto will handle  the upcoming battle in Part 2, which can’t be good. Then come the extra scenes added into the manga, which mostly involve more panels with Kenji and his thoughts on certain matters. These only made me come to the conclusion that Kenji is kind of unmemorable. I know that with manga you sometimes have to know what a character is thinking, but I think it went too far here. It felt like it slowed the manga down, and lingered on certain aspects for more then I was willing to deal with. This makes me worried since I’m sure I’ll encounter the same problem in Part 2, and that might let me down in regards to the manga adaptation.

However, these issues are not enough to get me down overall regarding the manga edition of Summer Wars  Part I. After all, it’s still Summer Wars, and if you liked the film, there’s a good chance you’ll enjoy this adaptation so far since it still has a lot of interesting and fun events that take place. Even if you haven’t watched the film (though you should), this manga is pretty good and a worthy one on your shelf. I just hope Part 2 manages to dispel my worries…

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