Kenji Koiso is a typical high school student and part time moderator for Oz; an enormous online virtual reality center. Everyone uses Oz – and I do mean everyone; from children to government officials to surgeons – for their information sharing needs. After being invited by his classmate, Natsuki Shinohara, to her family’s home to celebrate her grandmothers 90th birthday, Kenji receives an email seemingly from the Oz server with a code inside. He cracks the mathematically encrypted code, has his avatar stolen, and within twelve hours all hell breaks loose. Traffic lights are on the fritz, emergency services aren’t working, and even the controls for nuclear weapons are overtaken. Worst of all, everyone is blaming him! Now Kenji must try to defeat the hacker – Love Machine – with the assistance of the Shinohara family. They’re caught up in a game of cat and mouse with deadly consequences, and only they can stop it.
I found the story to be quite enjoyable. As it is with most anime, however, you can generally tell where the story is going and what’s going to happen. This was no different. Once it got into the meat of the movie, I could predict the path it would take. It was entertaining regardless, but a few twists and turns would’ve helped to spice up the story and given it a higher rating.
There wasn’t anything particularly special about the characters, except for granny Sakae. She stood out the most, and had the most unique personality. The entire Shinohara clan was fun to watch, but without Sakae’s presence they could’ve easily been swept under the rug. Kenji himself was a normal teenage boy in just about every aspect.
The visual effects were brilliant. You got a sense of reality outside of Oz and within it, everything was incredibly vibrant. The artwork within Oz easily runs circles over that of the characters in everyday life, but even the “real” animation was well done.
My absolute favorite thing about this whole movie was the soundtrack. It was incredible. It fit the mood so well that throughout I thought of how much I enjoyed the score alone. From the whimsical “Overture of the Summer Wars” to the perfect blend that is “King Kazma” and back again, the soundtrack is the element of this film that left the biggest impression on me.
Overall Score: 3.75
All in all, I was pleased with this movie. I can see myself watching it frequently, and plan to purchase it in the near future. It had elements of lighthearted comedy with the looming threat of actual world destruction. I say well done to the entire cast and crew.