Remember the 1983 techno-thriller War Games where Matthew Broderick played a teenage computer hacker who thinks he's only playing a game. but almost starts a global thermonuclear war? Take that same basic idea, but fast forward to the age of social networking, identity theft, and economic apocalypse and you've got the basic setup for Mamoru Hosoda's animated film Summer Wars.
Kenji Koiso, the Summer Wars protagonist, is a math and physics whiz who works part-time as an administrator for Oz, Japan's biggest — and most adorable — social networking site. Girls aren't Kenji's strong suit, and he's a fish out of water when Natsuki, a secret crush, hires him to play the part of her fiancé to please her 97-year-old grandmother.
One anxious, sleepless night Kenji takes an online math quiz and accidentally "breaks the internet" by hacking Oz's supposedly unhackable security code, allowing a malicious and incredibly powerful force loose in a virtual utopia Japan now depends on for most real-world transactions. What follows is an imaginative adventure that juxtaposes social networking and gaming culture with the life of a Japanese household and explores contemporary themes relating to security, identity, and community.
Summer Wars is being screened in conjunction with the Brooks Museum's Animefest exhibit. The Brooks recently asked for anime-influenced submissions from artists ages 13 to 19. The artwork is all inspired by the quote, "Having a light side and a dark side is what makes life interesting," from D.Gray-man, a Japanese manga series written and illustrated by Katsura Hoshino. The exhibition will be on display at the Brooks through June 23rd.
"Summer Wars" screens at the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art, Saturday, May 25th, at 2 p.m. Tickets are $8, $6 for Brooks members and students.