We’re getting an astounding range of anime films hitting cinemas at the moment, from boisterous fantasies to refined history dramas. From its name, you might think Genocidal Organ is a schlocky splatter flick. In fact, it’s a sumptuously made, incredibly smart, political SF film. Set in the near future, large parts of it don’t feel like science fiction at all.
Firmly in the thinky anime traditions of Mamoru Oshii (Ghost in the Shell), it comes from director Shuko Murase – who made his own intelligent anime, the TV series Ergo Proxy. The snag – apart from the cerebral script – is that Genocidal Organ is bleak. It’s bleak as hell.
When the city of Sarajevo is nuked, the shadow of 9/11 spreads endlessly, and other countries seem hell bent on slaughter. American intelligence suggests one man, an American, is triggering the violence wherever he goes, and special ops officer Clavis is dispatched to investigate.
Unusually for anime, the main characters are all American (though, more typically for anime, the outlook is vehemently anti-American). At first, Genocidal Organ comes off like a spy thriller, with a long section set in a beautifully-rendered Prague, as Clavis investigates the mystery man’s girlfriend, who may be a femme fatale.
Then the film gets very talky, though at least it’s interesting talk – as with Arrival, the plot hinges around language. It also gets pretty brutal, including a harrowing sequence of young fighters being slaughtered by the supposed heroes. As a take-down of Hollywood heroics, it’s brilliant, but we doubt that’ll help it draw a large audience.
The film this parallels the most is the similarly bleak Harmony; both it and Genocidal Organ were based on novels by the same author, Project Itoh. But if you appreciated overtly serious anime like Sky Crawlers and Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence, then this is similarly worthy of your time. Reviewed by Tom Arden
RELEASE: Out Now
FROM: National Amusements
FORMATS: Theatrical Release
AGE RATING: 15