By 2022 the War on Terror has evolved following the terrorist destruction of Sarajevo by a homemade nuclear device. Developed countries like America have become insular with civil liberties gladly traded for the dubious guarantee of increased security and the “safe world” is monitored 24/7 by unparalleled surveillance systems. Every person is tracked, every action recorded and the population have learned to accept the arrangement, to endure the intrusion.
Outside of the ordered wealthier nations, however, the world is in disarray, with country upon country falling to infighting, civil wars and ultimately genocide. An elite American special forces unit is tasked with infiltrating various unstable regions to take out command points causing this mass slaughter, but when a mission goes awry and an agent is killed the assignment changes with the discovery of a significant lead.
Intelligence Agent Clavis Shepherd (voiced by Atom: The Beginning’s Yûichi Nakamura) is tasked with tracking down a man who may be the source of this plague of genocide, an American known as John Paul (voiced by Sound! Euphonium‘s Takahiro Sakurai) whom he tracks through his former lover Lucia (voiced by Durarara!!‘s Sanae Kobayashi). His research revealing John Paul to have connections reaching back to his own government, more worrying still is that Shepherd himself begins to understand the nature of John Paul’s brilliance as a student of language and programming, and how this plague of genocide could be orchestrated.
Directed by Ergo Proxy‘s Shûkô Murase and based on the acclaimed novel by Project Itoh, a pseudonym of the late Satoshi Itō, Genocidal Organ is part action movie and part spy thriller but largely a discourse on Western foreign policy and how the world and the individual reacts to the threats of the 21st century. While the action sequences are well animated and often disturbing, the most captivating scenes are the discussions between the characters.
What would a nation do to maintain stability in a chaotic world? What would an individual do to protect those they love? Throughout the movie these ideas are brought up and left with the audience to dwell on. With none of the characters in possession of a golden moral compass, viewers will be left with questions rather than being spoon-fed answers, and feeling extremely relevant in the current climate Genocidal Organ considers how apathetic the human race can be when wars are fought “out of sight.’
Rich with bold concepts and moral questions ranging from the power of language to alter the mind to the use of emotionally regulated soldiers to kill without thought, the film pulls no punches with the violence displayed in impressively animated and sometimes disturbing scenes, from violent assassinations to “first person shooter” style fight scenes involving brutal military action against child soldiers.
The strength of Genocidal Organ comes from its ideas which at times feel stronger than the execution. While the movie will stay with audiences because of its thought provoking nature, the pacing through the movie feels at times unbalanced, moving quickly from action movie to intellectual discussion to spy thriller then cycling through all three again. While it is a given that the characters occupy morally grey territory, at times they lack the depth to draw audiences in as far as is needed.
Shepherd and the other soldiers are emotionally regulated while Jean Paul is an emotionally numb sociopath, leaving Lucia as one of the few protagonists with any visible feelings. While necessary for some points of the story the emotional restriction on the characters dampens the impact at times. A fascinating collection of ideas, beautifully animated and haunting in some of its scenes but lacking this emotional connection, Genocidal Organ feels like an intellectual exercise rather than a personal one.
Genocidal Organ is screening in cinemas for one night only on Wednesday 12th July 2017