Thursday, December 18, 2014

Anime Geek: Sumer Wars

Summer Wars is a science fiction story, but at its core it is also a slice of life story. The two stories coincide beautifully and come together for an uplifting ending. 

The story starts out with the main character Kenji being asked by Natsuki to attend her family’s big birthday celebration for her 90 year old grandmother. Kenji agrees. When he arrives Kenji is surprised when Natsuki introduces him as her fiancĂ© with an impressive college resume. Kenji is still a high school student.

We are then introduced to the science fiction part of the story when Kenji receives an encryption in an e-mail late at night. Kenji uses his strong math prowess to crack the code. Not knowing he was cracking the encryption for the on line virtual world of OZ. This virtual world is used by everyone from children who play games to government officials that run Japan’s infrastructure. 

The true hacker of OZ is an AI program called Love Machine, which was created for the soul purpose of infiltrating networks. We discover later on Love Machine was written by Wabisuke, the family’s black sheep. He sold Love Machine to the U.S. who turned it loose on OZ for a trial run.
With control of OZ Love Machine is able to create chaos across Japan. Emergency Service Teams chase around on bogus calls. Traffic is brought to a standstill across the country. The biggest danger comes when Love Machine takes over the nuclear weapons and a satellite. The nukes are set to launch, while the satellite is set to drop on Natsuki and her family. 

While all of this goes on Natsuki’s grandma, Sakae, has a blow out with Wabisuke. Then during a friendly game of Hanafuda Sakae asks Kenji to take care of Natsuki. The rest of the large family goes about making plans for Sakae’s birthday celebration, watching one of the sons play in a high school baseball national championship, talk about their ancestors’ conquests, and eat together. 

In the finale Natsuki’s young cousin, Kazuma, wages a fight with Love Machine in an all out battle for control of OZ and ultimately to regain control of the nuclear weapons and the satellite. The entire family rallies around Kazuma with any help they can provide including a supercomputer, ice to cool it, and a fishing boat for energy. Sounds a little crazy, right? Well, that’s the sign of a good anime. Don’t worry it’ll all make sense when you watch it.
It is a fun show to watch and it has plenty of feels in it as well. I highly recommend Summer Wars. 

Monday, December 15, 2014

Anime Geek: K

What The Freak?! That was my reaction to watching K. This is not a straight forward show. Most of the answers are given in the last two or three episodes. For most of the show questions are built. Along with the questions the relationships between the different characters are discovered.
The first episode starts off with the gang of the Red King invading the home of a mafia don and beating them. Before they can make their escape the Red King is taken into custody by Sector 4 and their Blue King. The rest of the episode sets up how the main character, Shiro, is to blame for the murder of a young man who was a servant to the Red King.
Video of Shiro killing the Red King’s servant is blasted across every screen and phone in Tokyo. The footage is very damning.
You come to find out there are seven kings. Each king has their followers. The Kings and the followers have special powers that are unique to that king’s color. What those powers are isn’t always clear. 

The second episode starts out with The Black Dog chasing Shiro down. The story is thrown for a loop when Shiro’s cat turns into a naked human and she protects Shiro from The Black Dog. Just when I thought the episode couldn’t get any weirder all of a sudden Shiro, his cat, and The Black Dog are sitting down to eat.

The name of Shiro’s cat is Neko, which is Japanese for cat. She spends a good portion of the series running around naked, while Shiro and The Black Dog try to get her to put clothes on. Honestly, I thought the main reason for Neko was fan service, but by the end Neko proves to be useful to the storyline.
The Black Dog, whose name is Kurho, decides to stay Shiro’s execution long enough to find out the truth of who was behind the murder.
I almost stopped watching K after the second episode, it had quickly become something comical with a lot of fan service. I’m glad I kept watching. The story pulls itself together and becomes something serious. It then moves forward showing who the true killer is.
Is Shiro the killer? How do the kings come to be? What is Neko? And several other questions are finally answered by the end of the series. You have to be patient and wait until the end.

At the end of the series I was still left with a few questions, but I can’t post those questions without giving away the ending. Fortunately, rumor has it there is a second series in the mix and should be airing in Japan in 2015. If things keep working as they do we should see it everywhere else by the end of 2016.
This is definitely a story that requires a lot of patience, but it is worth the work.