By Amy Nicholson
From Japan comes this chirpy cartoon counterpart to Tron: Legacy. In the near future, there’s the world we know and the world of OZ, a social networking online über game where one billion avatars (a cupcake with a top hat, a yellow dog in a kimono) pay bills, send emails, attend work meetings and, say, if they happen to work for the U.S. military, store their passcodes to nuclear weapons (think Facebook in five years). Math genius Kenji is at home in OZ, until he’s duped into putting down his smart phone to join his pretty classmate Natsuki at her great-grandmother’s 90th birthday, a four-day family reunion on a former samurai warrior estate that goes horribly, immediately wrong when he’s forced to pose as her fiancé and then publicly blamed for a privacy attack that overtakes OZ and swallows up millions of profiles into an evil giant bunny named Love Machine. Armed with enough data to shut down traffic lights and scramble power plants, the monster is, literally, us. Director Mamoru Hosoda imagines the (inevitable) cyber apocalypse as bright, colorful and bigger than we can immediately conceive. Inside the program, Love Machine tips over rows of dominoes and breaks the ambulance call center. Though it won the Japanese Academy Award for Animation, the perky English voiceover used here has the ring of afterschool cartoons. The story’s been done better (and balder) in Die Hard With A Vengeance, but Summer Wars adds both a playfulness and a historical perspective—great-grandma survived World War II, and you better believe she stores her phone numbers in a book.