VEXILLE (a J!-ENT Anime DVD Review)
July 14, 2008 by Dennis Amith
“With “VEXILLE”, the creators of the “Appleseed” film are back with a storyline that I have to say is quite thought provoking and animation that is quite mesmerizing to watch”
DVD TITLE: VEXILLE
DURATION: 105 minutes
DVD INFORMATION: English & Japanese Language, Japanese 5.1 Surround Sound, English 5.1 Surround Sound, 16:9, English Subtitles
CATALOG #: FN-09590
DIRECTED AND WRITTEN BY: SORI
THEME SONG: “Together Again” by MINK
ORIGINAL SCORE: Paul Okenfold
SOUND DESIGN: Kasamatsu Kouji
CO-WRITTEN BY: Handa Haruka
PRODUCTION BY: Hishiyama Toru
EDITING BY: SORI
PRODUCERS: Nakazawa Toshiaki, Yoshihara Yumiko, Takase Ichiro
EXECUTIVE PRODUCER: Hamana Kazuya
Meisa Kuroki, Tanihara Shosuke, Matsuyuki Yasuko, Otsuka Akio, Park Romi, Sakurai Takahiro, Morikawa Tomoyuki, Nakihara Tetsuya
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 seclusion. No soul shall enter. No soul shall leave.
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 mankind.
In the battle between machine and man, humanity stands to suffer most.
Having watched “Appleseed”, it was pretty much a no brainer that I would be giving “VEXILLE” a try.
The latest theatrical effort from SORI combining 3D and animation together that have made films such as the two “Appleseed” films has been quite exciting to watch and see develop overtime and just pretty much to see where animators are able to take things to a new level is always exciting.
As a viewer, I’m open to new technologies and to see technology and well-told storylines come together.
Of course, what makes things even more interesting is that SORI (Sori Fumuhiko) has evolved from his directorial debut with the live action theatrical hit “Ping Pong” back in 2001, produced the 2004 “Appleseed” film and here he is now as the director and screenwriter for the animated film “VEXILLE”.
With “VEXILLE”, the creators of the “Appleseed” film are back with a storyline that I have to say is quite thought provoking and animation that is quite mesmerizing to watch but this is a storyline that I wish was fleshed out in several movies than just one.
The main story is about how in 2067. A time where cybernetic robotics has peaked and with a U.N. ban on the development robotics, of course, Japan is the country that is being pressured to stop with its development.
Japan leaves the United Nations and pretty much seals itself up to the world. No one knows what is happening in Japan and because of new technology, no one enters or leaves Japan. And in the middle of this technology is this sinister corporation known as Daiwa Heavy Industries.
Flash forward ten years later and in 2077, the U.S. based organization S.W.O.R.D., after a mission has received some evidence that Japan has been producing some type of biologically/cybernetic construction on humans but additional intel is needed and S.W.O.R.D. must prove that Japan is developing banned robotic bio technology that could threaten humankind.
You are introduced to the main two characters of S.W.O.R.D., Vexille and Leon. Both are a couple but dedicated to their jobs. Unknown to Vexille, Leon has a secret.
It appears that Leon was in an undercover mission in Japan (before Japan left the U.N. and before all foreigners were deported from Japan) before his relationship with Vexille and that he has a major reason for wanting to go back.
During a security mission for Daiwa, Leon and a partner from S.W.O.R.D. go on pursuit after someone causing trouble at the San Pedro shipyard. During the tragic pursuit, the assailant relays information to Leon about a major meeting in Japan and a message from a “Maria”.
Of course, these chain of events is enough for S.W.O.R.D. to act quickly and devise a team (led by Leon) to infiltrate Japan, gather intelligence and send over the data to the U.S. to prove Japan is literally devising robotic weaponry that can be used against other nations.
The mission is botched and leads to Vexille being the lone soldier of S.W.O.R.D. now wandering an area that is supposed to be Tokyo but an even bigger shocker exists and what has become of Japan since 2067 and what happens when she comes face to face with this person named “Maria”
The film is recent (2007) and it’s featured via 16:9 and feel that the animation with combining 3D CGI with animation worked very well for this film. It’s a very complex film that obviously took a lot of time to create and from the facial emotions to the mannerisms of villagers and even the use of robotics, was just wonderful to watch.
I watched both in Japanese and English and the audio is just awesome on both. Loved the sound, the screeching of metal, the explosions and everything really comes alive on both soundtracks.
I tend to watch the Japanese language more for anime but I have to give a thumbs up for the English voice dub. Very good!
The original score is by world renown trance DJ Paul Oakenfold. The music overall works but I wish there was an instrumental symphony-based score in some parts of the film. But that’s me being nitpicky.
And of course, when I saw Avex’s association with the film, the first thing that came to my head was, “I bet that MINK will sing the ending theme” and what do you know… I was right. And that is because she’s typically the go ahead singer for films that have AVEX’s name attached, especially if the songs are sung in English.
Unfortunately, this is the most unfortunate of the DVD. There are no special features but Funimation trailers. What is disappointing is that the Region-3 release of “VEXILLE” includes a second disc featuring an interview with the director, making of and CG images and also the Asian version has a DTS soundtrack.
Well, at least it came with a slipcase but really… one can only hope that someday, Funimation plans a Blu-ray release of “VEXILLE” that at least carries these extras and more.
I have to admit that I really enjoyed the film.
I really enjoyed the awesome animation, I really enjoyed the storyline but I would love to find out from SORI if there were scenes cut or if he would loved to have made this film a two-parter or maybe a trilogy.
You get hooked on these characters such as Vexille, Leon, Maria and you just want more character development. Heck, even the main enemy scientist of Daiwa or even the corporation itself, you want to ask why did they do what they did. You are left with questions but of course, there is only so much you can cover in a film that is already at 105 minutes long.
So, for me, I wish the storyline would lead to another film but pretty much the way everything was written, everything is contained to one story, one movie and focusing on the overall situation in Japan ala 2077 than the characters.
With this exciting movie, you are just left wanting more and its a shame that the DVD doesn’t have any special features. It’s one thing for Hollywood companies to hold back and release so many multiple versions of a DVD but if there is one nitpicky thing I have about this DVD is that the Asian release gets the goodies, while those of us in the US will probably have to wait for a better release on Blu-ray.
But all in all, the DVD is definitely solid. I really love how animation and technology have come to play with the “Appleseed” films and even “SOS: TOKYO METRO EXPLORERS: THE NEXT” to “FINAL FANTASY: ADVENT CHILDREN”.
It’s good to see Japan taking chances on these type of films that utilize 3D and animation together and I know that it may not be the greatest thing for anime purists but for those who are able to accept technology and for creators to release something that is not just eye candy but having an engaging storyline is important.
“VEXILLE” by no means is a perfect film but it’s a very good film that features mind-blowing animation utilizing new technology.
As for the DVD, it’s barebones but for now, it’s what is currently out and definitely recommend people giving it a try!
+ A beautifully, animated film utilizing 3D/CG and anime but having a good balance with an engaging storyline.
+ Awesome voice acting on both Japanese and English voice dub.
+ Not just awesome visuals but audio sounds just as great!
– Ehh? No special features in the US release???
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