2067: Isolation. Japan seals herself off from the eyes of the world in the face of unilateral international policy setting strict limits on the use of robotic technology. The island nation exists only behind a veil of secl... more »usion. No soul shall enter. No soul shall leave. 2077: Revelation. The veil is breached. Japan is infiltrated by agents of the organization S.W.O.R.D., a fighting force operating outside of the protection of the United States and her allies. Their mission: Determine if the Japanese are developing banned robotic bio-technology, forbidden due to its threat to humankind.In the battle between machine and man, humanity stands to suffer most. Includes 2 hours of special features: Opening Comments from the Locarno Film FestivalFollowing Sori's Work as an Animation CreatorVoice Acting FootageCreating the Cities in VEXILLE2007 Tokyo International Anime Fair EventSori's Guest Lecture at Digital Hollywood TokyoAn Old Friend Pays Sori a VisitBehind-the-Scenes Footage of ICHICreating VEXILLE's 3D AnimationCreating the Music in VEXILLESori's Closing CommentsThe Secrets of VEXILLEOriginal TV Spots and Previews« less
3 ½ Stars+: A Complex Plot and Awesome Animation.....but a M
Woopak | Where Dark Asian Knights Dwell | 03/20/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)
"As a fan of Asian cinema, I've often wondered why I haven't reviewed more Japanese anime. Traditional anime has very complex storylines that can put most movies to shame. "VEXILLE" (a.k.a. Vexille 2077 Nihon Sakaku, Isolation) is from the same folks responsible for Appleseed and Ghost in the Shell: S.A.C.. Director Fumihiko Sori and writer Haruka Handa's latest is a blend of traditional 2 dimensional animation and 3-D effects that gives us a vision of a futuristic world. People who saw Appleseed may notice the similarities to Masamune Shirow's futuristic designs since they both worked on the 2004 hit animated film.
The story in "Vexille" begins as Daiwa Industries leads Japan in technological advancements as an attempt for Imperial Aspirations (recalls Japan in WWII). Daiwa began experimenting in extreme cloning, bio-engineering human tissue to combine with machine parts. Enraged with these experiments, the U.N. orders Japan to cease all activities. In retaliation, Japan sanctions a rule of total isolation from the rest of the world, and the country even goes as far as generating a magnetic force field around its borders. After 10 years, American intelligence intercepts information that Japan has developed a procedure that can turn humans into cyborgs. A black ops group called "S.W.O.R.D." is sent to infiltrate isolated Japan to find the truth of this matter and stop it if necessary. Vexille, one of the commando units sent to Japan soon finds herself the lone survivor who may be able to stop Daiwa with its sinister plans. She hooks up with Maria and her gang of renegades to infiltrate Daiwa. But is Maria more than what she seems? The shocking secret may be more than they bargained for....
I've read that "Vexille" wasn't such a huge hit when it came out in Japan. Perhaps, anime fans experienced some "cyberpunk" overload because there are quite a lot of features that show a futuristic world with "mechas" involved; or maybe because the plot in "Vexille" portrays the country as a "rogue" government in the world's eyes. I wouldn't know the true reason. But this original work by Sori and Handa seemed too similar to Shirow's past works. It incorporates familiar themes of the usual corporate entity that wants to play God, a strong-willed, gutsy but beautiful heroine, futuristic military weaponry and the premise of man vs. machine or the morality of man and machine. The film may actually be homage to Masamune Shirow.
The animation in "Vexille" is kind of a mixed bag. I loved the fact that the characters don't have the usual over-expressive "bulging" eyes, odd colored hair and perfect complexion. Vexille and Maria (as well the entire supporting cast) looked almost realistic in their features, it sidestepped the usual anime conventions that we're used to in the past. Their movements are also very fluid and smooth that outshines the motion capture in "Beowulf" but comes a lot short of the quality of the fantastic animation in "Final Fantasy: Advent Children". I also found it a bit amusing that Americans looked like they're mixed and still looked a tad Asian. (Not complaining, just stating an observation) Also, I saw this film in its original Japanese language; voice actors Yasuko Matsuyuri as sexy rebel, Maria (This character makes me want to become a cartoon) and Meisa Kuroki as Vexille do a very decent job in expressing emotions.
The film totally looks enchanting with the execution of CGI and traditional cell animation. The effects work by Oxybot is perfect for this type of movie. "Vexille" seems to borrow elements from Ghost in the Shell, Blade Runner and even Dune. (You'll be impressed once you see the "Jags") The one fault that the film has, that somewhat lost its effectiveness is the lack of dramatic impact. The story is deep enough to keep experienced viewers interested but the execution seemed a bit lackluster. It opted to settle for the usual histrionics and missed a fantastic opportunity for emotional content by exploring the dramatic repercussions of the film's main premise. Graphics can only carry an animated feature so far.
Overall, I did enjoy "Vexille" more than I did "Appleseed Ex Machina". I guess I'm so used to Anime with all the dramatic elements explored that I was somewhat disappointed. The film had all the dynamic potential with its deep premise that wasn't fully realized.
Recommended! For Japanese Anime or Sci-Fi films FANS! [3 ½ Stars]
Very cool sci-fi animation!
Dave Y. | Kennewick, WA USA | 02/22/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"After reading a short synopsis and the Japanese version trailer of this movie (when looking for something to go see one evening), I figured I'd check it out. I'm not a huge fan of a lot of Japanese anime, though some of it is cool, and I'm not normally a big fan of animated drama/action in general, but WOW was Vexille a pleasant surprise! If I had to compare it to something, I would say it's Final Fantasy meets Titan A.E. and maybe a little bit of the Matrix.
The animation style was just beautiful! The mix of cartoon with computer-generated animation was a brilliant sight to behold. The scenes in this movie had fantastic dimension, color, style, and a totally mesmerizing quality. It definitely made it very easy to find myself drawn into this futuristic world.
The story is great too! Good character development and a sci-fi element that is at least partially believable (and certainly, if nothing else, entertaining). Set in the year 2077, the technology is slick, clever, and cool - yet not so far fetched that you can't imagine the possibilities suggested. Unplug and buy into the fantasy and you'll have a great time. The movie has a bit of a Matrix quality in that (aside from its obvious political elements) there is the strong sense of an underlying (almost spiritual) theme driving the story but it's just far enough removed from the surface story that you can dig for messages if you want to or just enjoy the ride without getting into the philosophy of the film. I like movies that have multi-faceted elements like this. It made me want to see it again to try and draw more out of it.
In short, the movie is great! It's more of a drama than out and out action (so it might strike some viewers as a little slow-paced in places), but the action is fun and the story is good. The characters are such that you care about them and that draws you even further into the story. There is also some cool music in the film, well placed with the various scenes and unique enough so that it doesn't strike as typical. My favorite songs are "Target Practice" by Asian Dub Foundation, "Bird Flu" by M.I.A. and "The Virus" by Paul Oakenfold. Again, the artwork and C.G. effects are beautiful and really fun to watch.
I loved the movie and would see it again (and will) because I'm ordering it today! Parents who are curious about the content will be happy to know that there are no sexual themes in this film. There is a light sub context of a love story present, but it's not the main focus of the film. There is sci-fi action and violence but nothing bloody or grotesque. There is a little bit of language, thus earning it its PG-13 rating.
If you like anime or just good sci-fi, both elements should please. I recommend it. "
EYE CANDY!!! A Review For The Casual Anime Connoisseur
JBizzle | Under A Rock | 05/22/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I'm not a huge Anime fan, I used to be during the first real big boom here in the States, but quickly got tired of it as alot of it all kinda seems the same to me. Don't get me wrong, I still love the classics such as "Ghost In The Shell", "Ninja Scroll", "Fist Of The Northstar", "Guyver", "Neon Genesis", "Gundam", "Robotech", anything from Miyazaki/"Studio Ghibli" & (of course, my very favorite of them all) "Macross Plus", but I don't know. It just kinda seems that production started going downhill & people were just eating up anything so long as it was a cartoon with characters with big eyes & spikey hair coming out of Japan. There just wasn't anything impressive or exciting anymore for me to oogle at.
I'll be honest & start by saying the main problem I have with most Anime is that they're almost all always soooooooooooooooooo over dramatic. I wind up getting put to sleep by the 1st 20 minutes of lovey-dovey crap before they get to the 5 minutes of big cool robot eye candy action part. Otherwise they're usually way to kiddie/cutesy/cuddley for me. The other thing that winds up bothering me is that the voice acting doesn't always transfer over well when done in English. The other option there is to watch it with the original Japanese language & then just read the subtitles, but it kinda takes you out of the movie having to read everything. In some case it's worth it (for me at least), but that's not always the case. Well, "Vexille" doesn't suffer from any of this at all, in fact it's AMAZING!!!
"Vexille" is from the creators of Anime classic "Appleseed", so right away you should know you're getting into something of quality. It's done in the same style as "Karas" from 2007 & the newer "Appleseed" titles with equal parts of both CGI & traditional animation. Let me tell ya, I'm being wowed again with the abundance of eye-candy through out this film. While "Karas" suffered in story (I didn't know what was going on through out that entire movie), "Vexille" doesn't.
I'm not gonna go into the plot of the movie (I hate it when reviewers do that & then ruin the entire film for anyone reading), as I'm sure there'll be plenty of other reviews that'll do that if you're interested. Just know that you're getting, some seriously epic sci-fi, action packed, animation just as good as any big budget summer flic in the theatre (why this wasn't in theatres is beyond me). Also, the score/soundtrack is done by electronic music legend Paul Oakenfold. It's a fast paced futuristic sound that only adds to the feel of the film.
Bottom line, check this movie out whether you're an Anime junky or are just plane looking for a great action movie, I'm sure glad I did!!
P.S. Where's the Blu-Ray?!?!?!"
Action Packed Sci-Fi Animation
M. A. Ramos | Florida USA | 05/20/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"As I have mention in my extremely few Japanese Animation movie reviews I have not been a fan. But if more films like "VEXILLE" are produced I may just have to buy them. To me this is more of a Sci-Fi Anime film with lots of action. And an original score that enhances the viewing pleasure.
In this movie we have Daiwa Industries, a Japanese technological giant, making huge leaps of advancements in robotics. They have taken the technology so far that the world is worried about what direction they will take their research. With revelations of their experimenting with bioengineering of humans, the U.N. with the assent of the rest of the world place strict limits on the use of robotic technology.
With this edict form the U.N., Japan decides to withdraw from the U.N. and is able to completely seal off Japan from all prying eyes by use of a magnetic force field around its borders. But ten years later the U.S.A. learns that Daiwa may have perfected a procedure to turn humans into cyborgs and give them an appearance of having human biometrics.
This is the critical information that is needed to make S.W.O.R.D., a black op organization that is outside the protection of all nations, take action. With plausibly deniability in place, S.W.O.R.D. is ordered to infiltrate Japan and find out how far their research has progressed and too see if they are developing forbidden robotic biotechnology!
I found this a very entertaining Sci-Fi film with tried and true formula of man fighting machine. This action pack film is the first Japanese Anime film I know I will watch multiple times."
E. A Solinas | MD USA | 07/16/2008
(3 out of 5 stars)
"It doesn't come as a huge surprise that "Vexille" is from the people who brought the world "Appleseed" and its even better sequel "Appleseed Ex Machina."
And in "Vexille," the cyberpunk flavor, the big mecha, and the futuristic world full of political and technological conflict are all firmly in place, along with some pretty slam-bang action sequences and a darker, grittier feeling. While it lacks some character development and feels rather bleak at times, it's still a pretty entertaining story -- now if only it had fleshed out the main cast a little more.
About seventy years in the future, the world is worried about the advancement of robotics technology. So the UN orders them restricted, and Japan decides to cut itself off from the rest of the world.
But ten years later, a biomechanical leg shows the UN just what has been going on in Japan. So the American tech police known as SWORD are sent into Japan to find out if the isolated country has been doing illegal robotics research, which no other country allows. They aren't, and the movie ends there. Seriously, the Daiwa Corporation has decided to guide mankind's evolution through machinery, and the the SWORD agents are met with a very warm, nasty welcome.
After being rescued by the rebel Maria, Vexille finds that the biorobotics Daiwa Corporation has reduced the once-proud Japan to a vast, barren slum devoid of truly human life. Even worse, a nanotech "vaccine" transforms the Japanese into mindless machines. Vexille's only hope of saving herself -- and her lover Leon -- is to join forces with a small band of rebels before Japan is completely destroyed by Daiwa.
"Vexille" is a very different animal from the "Appleseed" movies. While it has the nimble shiny mecha and exploding buildings, the focus is on political machinations and evil corporations whose morality makes your hair stand on end. There's no utopia here for our tough heroine -- it's more like one of the outer circles of Dante's Hell.
The scenes in Vexille's home are colourful and streamlined, set in a futuristic city. But things get darker soon, taking us to the sickly yellow light and shabby shanty town of Japan, and things don't lighten up. And that devastated Japan is a pretty brilliant creation, both in its decayed misery and in the bleak future that its few remaining "fragments of humanity" have. The big flaw: the characters spend loooooong stretches of the movie just grimly talking to each other, with too little action.
Fortunately when there IS action, the fight scenes are top-notch in quality -- it has exploding buildings, missiles, battling mecha and chases through a marketplace. The fight scenes grow in intensity as Vexille and Maria reach the climactic confrontation with the Big Bad Guy. And the semi-apocalyptic finale is both shocking and inevitable -- as well as a helluva way to end a movie.
And then there's the jags, which are also quite cool -- giant wormlike masses of technology and metal that devour anything they come across. Not only are they wonderfully freaky, but they come across as a sort of cyber-sandworm from "Dune." Lovely.
And the animation is pretty astounding, though it has an oddly rotoscoped look in some action scenes. It's detailed and gloriously vivid, despite its grimy, shadowy look. And that includes exquisite details like snowflakes being individually swept from a windshield, or a reflection in a transparent helmet -- or even a smooth-skinned, nimble mecha exploding into a building with almost stunning speed. This glorious look almost makes up for the stretches of relatively action-free plot.
Perhaps its biggest weakness is in the characterization. It feels like they put a lot of effort into creating lifelike-looking characters. But despite the spunky Vexille and some touching moments from the Japanese cyborgs, the characters never quite come alive. Call it the "Final Fantasy: Spirits Within" effect. The best-rounded character is probably Maria, the tragic rebel leader who also provides a little romantic tension for our elf-faced heroine.
"Vexille" is a flawed little semiprecious gem -- brilliant animation, a tough heroine and mildly horrific Japan. Flawed, but has plenty of chills and explosions."