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GENOCIDAL ORGAN Pumps Out Post-Apocalyptic Despair and Anime Violence (Fantasia Review)

GENOCIDAL ORGAN Pumps Out Post-Apocalyptic Despair and Anime Violence (Fantasia Review)

Genocidal Organ begins in 2022–a few years after Sarajevo was obliterated by a homemade nuclear bomb, plunging much of the developed world even further into a surveillance state. Meanwhile, mass murders plague struggling countries, and an American named John Paul (voiced by Takahiro Sakurai) is somehow linked to each of the genocides. Months after he shows up for a consultation to the government, a country will be plunged into flourishing violence.

The United States government tasks Captain Clavis Shepherd (voiced by Yûichi Nakamura), one soldier of many in a program that deletes their emotional responses, with hunting down and stopping Paul and discovering what weapon he’s using to cause such enormous damage.

Genocidal Organ Race

Writer/director Shûkô Murase has an absolute visual stunner on his hands here. In realizing a near-future of control and catastrophe, his animation team has elevated the form through atom-level attention to detail and a blending of classic anime style with near-photorealistic environments. From the look of their version of Prague, it’s clear that they studied it down to the last cobblestone. They even animated a quirky jazz band that plays on the Charles Bridge and recreated the famous Staromestská subway station with its beveled cascade wall of rainbow colors. (The animation team behind Genocidal Organ was not messing around.)

All of that artwork is in service of a military action drama that tries to find some optimism in a world crippled by the human capacity for suffering. In digging through the ash heap, the film offers one answer to the Why of violence.

Shepherd plays spy in Prague, hiring Lucie (voiced by Sanae Kobayashi), a woman suspected of having a professional and romantic relationship with Paul, to teach him Czech in order to get close to her. She’s the key to a deeper conspiracy set in motion by Paul and a disruptive anti-surveillance group. Shepherd has to learn the truth and take his soldiers into several war zones to stop Paul from starting the next genocide.

Genocidal Organ Battle

Everything about Genocidal Organ is executed well, but it’s also a standard story that we’ve seen dozens of times before. Anyone who’s played Call of Duty (or really any military shooter) will recognize the plot movements from a mile off, which leaves it relying on its philosophical foundation to keep it fresh.

On that front, it has a clever hook (embodied by what the organ of the title is), and it admirably attempts to find something deep about the human experience–referencing American slavery, Auschwitz, and current global strife. But these are anchor points that feel more name-checked than responsibly examined. When it’s not showing off military prowess and precision through action sequences, the movie is staring at its own navel like a freshman philosophy student, engaging in long conversations with literary jabs at Kafka and linguistic theories that feel more like recipe ingredients that never get baked into a smarter movie. They take up a huge amount of the movie’s time without amounting to much. Maybe that’s because we’ve heard all of these conversations about human suffering and nihilism in a post-apocalyptic setting before.

These are big conversations that, for example, Akira did 10 times better 30 years ago before being copied into oblivion.

Genocidal Organ Main

Genocidal Organ is most clever when it’s showing off its military tech, not its thoughts on the human condition. The film doesn’t veer off the well-worn path that this type of movie takes, and the characters are all exactly the same as the dozens that came before them. The emotionless soldier with one thing that makes him different from the rest. The Adrian Veidt-level mastermind threatening the world. The shady government who may as well be a villain, too. The sweet, attractive femme non-fatale falling for the soldier.

It gets high marks for showing off scenes of violence in ways that challenge our emotions, though. The best example is an early mission where Shepherd and his team infiltrate a church to kill a foreign Defense Minister in charge of mass killings, and one team member sprays bullets into the target after going crazy. It’s appropriately tense and thrilling in its bloodshed, but Genocidal Organ also sees fit to show us the scene again, in dead silence, as US government officials replay the tape from the mad soldier’s body cam. Chillingly, it’s a smart slap in the face for enjoying the action in the first place. A guilt trip for being voyeuristic.

It’s a shame that this kind of moral complication isn’t done better throughout, or through the dialogue, but there’s still a lot to appreciate. Over all, Genocidal Organ is a stock military story dressed up in jaw-dropping new clothes.

Rating 3.5 out of 5 emotion-hampered burritos

3.5-burritos1

Images: Funimation

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