By Calum Marsh
By Michelle Orange
By Michael Atkinson
By Simon Abrams
By Zachary Wigon
By Aaron Hillis
By Casey Burchby
By Stephanie Zacharek
An apocalyptic take on the social network comes from, of all places, Mamoru Hosodas childlike, yay-go-team japanime about a hijacked Second Lifeesque world. Shy math whiz Kenji joins pretty, older schoolmate Natsuki on a trip to her familys rural ancestral home, where hes supposed to pose as her boyfriend so that her appealingly fierce great-grandmother isnt disappointed on her birthday. But Kenji is all nerves, andoh, yeahhe also inadvertently compromises the security of a worldwide online community called Oz, allowing its takeover by a sinister AI being. Hosoda toggles between airborne clenched-teeth cage matches in Ozs avatar cutesplosion, and bickering among Natsukis samurai-descended clan as they work to overcome the real-world chaos caused by Oz. As Kenjis brave-nerd maturation chugs along, interesting comparisons are set up between the societal structures of the family and of the virtual sphere. But corn is corn, and when everyone starts pulling togetherwhich ultimately means Natsukis favorite card game of hanafuda will prove to hold life-or-death importanceits hard to appreciate things like the character detail amid the insufferably squealy voicing and arbitrary suspense.
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