I only got around watching Summer Wars this year.
There are many different ways to blog about Summer Wars. You can go technical and use first year university algebra to explain how Kenji is beyond genius in his ability to crack RSA, or you could go to the other side of the spectrum and describe coping with the loss of the family head (krizzlybear, hope you can strive pass this period of grief). While at first I wanted to discuss computer/network security relating to Summer Wars, but since reading krizzlybear’s post and watching Dennou Coil, I realized that there is another direction that I wanted to try writing instead:
Like Dennou Coil, while technology and mathematics are important to the plot, it wasn’t the technology that was the main driver, it was the people that controlled or created the technology that was the drivers of the plot. Also, it wasn’t the technology that gave hope to the people in the end, but the people that used the technology that gave hope and united everyone.
When Love Machine got administrative control of the Oz system, causing chaos to the public system in Japan, remember what grandma did. She got out all her previous contacts and use a old telephone (rotary dial telephone) to call to everyone that were supporting Japan’s infrastructure to not give up and to do their best to fix the chaos that happened. This personality of not giving up but to strive through it when faced with an adversary was transmitted to everyone that she had contacted. While not knowing much about the Love Machine, grandma was able to some undo of the damages that Love Machine did. And the fact was that she didn’t have advance technology by her side, but with just a simple old fashioned telephone (and the landline infrastructure), she was able to at least stop some of the damages done by the Love Machine, a state-of-the-art artificial intelligence. While I do agree that she wouldn’t be possible to do so if she didn’t have all those contacts beforehand, but if her personality was more meek, like Kenji at the earlier parts of the anime, I doubt that she would she be able to convince and encourage them, let alone have many friends/connections. Therefore, for grandma, it wasn’t that the technology was advanced, but it was her personality that ultimately encouraged and united everyone to fix the problems that Love Machine had done.
Similarly, near the end of the show, when all hope seems lost, wasn’t Natsuki that decided to play a game of Koi-Koi against Love Machine and going all in by risking her whole family’s account, putting them as the bet. Yes, while her decision was partly her confidence in her Koi-Koi playing skills, but I would think it is very easily to shy away and doubt her own skills when the enemy seemed to be invincible (wasn’t Love Machine able to beat Kazuma, the owner of the famous King Kazma). Hence, it was the same strong personality similar to what grandma had that pushed her to make such a risky decision. Again, we see that the technology was nothing more than just a platform to facilitate the decision and to communicate the hope and encouragement to the whole world, which, despite the dire consequences, placed their hope on Natsuki in defeating the Love Machine (by Natsuki to use their account as a bet). In this scene, while Natsuki was using more advanced technology (the OZ system), the technology was nothing more than a platform for to show her strong personality, planting hope and uniting everyone to defeat Love Machine.
Lastly, being affected by the unwilling to admit defeat personality that was found in Natsuki and grandma, Kenji overclocked (as if cracking a RSA manually within a night is not crazy enough) and solved two to three RSA within few minutes.
However, what about the other side, the antagonist Love Machine, wasn’t it able to operate by itself, so much that even the US forces, who started the AI for a run, was unable to stop the AI; wasn’t Love Machine was so advanced that it broke through the control of humans? Well, I guess I have to blame the person that created the AI in the first place. However, since Love Machine was a curious self learning machine, maybe the inventors did not have that in mind when first creating it, but learned about it later after learning ways to better collect information. That….I really don’t know the answer of, and I think it branches into a whole discussion about AI and how intelligent they should be so that they won’t ever rebel us, causing the machine controlled future (ie the Matrix).
Therefore, technology is usually neutral, and in the end, it is the personality of the characters that determines how the technology is used. Also, similar to Dennou Coil, technology was only to show the fighting spirit that was within Natsuki’s family when faced with an adversary.
Maybe I will get around watching The Girl Who Leapt Through Time next year.