Directed by APPLESEED Writer and Producer, Fumihiko Sori, VEXILLE is something of a rarity when it comes to the Anime titles that I’ve seen. Let me say that, while I’ve seen a fair bit of anime now — much of it not reviewed for this site — I still can’t call myself a convert to the genre. Sure I’ve enjoyed some of the stuff I’ve seen immensely, others not so much. But all share some traits that I find far too annoying to overlook, and unfortunately it seems like those are the very traits that qualify a title AS anime.
Amongst these traits — but by no means the highest on the list — is that most of this stuff attempts to be grand, or epic. In just about every title I’ve seen, the world, universe, or even existence itself is at risk of obliteration. And in just about every title, there’s a chosen one — usually some annoying kid — who is the only one who possesses the, heretofore undiscovered, power to save said world / universe / whatnot, all they have to do is believe in themselves… or something equally hokey.
To some degree Vexille suffers from the full list of these irritations — all of which will no doubt show up in a post here one day, or an episode of Powers Cosmic — but it also manages to rise above them by actually being fairly original. I say ‘fairly’ original, because there are plenty of elements to this film that feel a little borrowed, but that can be said of just about any movie coming out of Hollywood these days.
For those of you who had “paragraph 4” in the “how far into the anime review do we get before elroy mentions robots pool” can collect your winnings at the door, because Vexille is all about robots, or Androids to be more precise. About 60 years in our future cybernetics technology has become a reality, but a ban on such research and development causes a massive rift between the UN and the Japanese government (which is very much under the control of pioneering robotics developer, Daiwa Heavy Industries). Japan isolates itself from the world in a very literal way. It blocks all monitoring of it’s activities (including satellite surveillance) and deports all foreigners.
For ten years Japan’s only communication with the outside world comes in the form of tech exports. However after a series of unexplained incidents on US soil, all of which point to Japan as the source, the Technology Police Agency, SWORD, is ordered to covertly infiltrate Japan and get to the bottom of things.
Visually Vexille is another rung up the ladder from the previous Appleseed movies. As is the story, even though there are quite a few similarities between this and the last Appleseed movie — which was written by Haruka Handa, who co-wrote Vexille with its director, Sori — this is pretty solid. But the thing that I mentioned earlier, that sets Vexille apart from other anime titles I’ve seen, is that this film actually manages to feel grand and epic, and the action climax towards the end of the film, despite looking like a Mad Max / Dune mash-up, manages to provoke a sense of excitement.
While these guys aren’t quite the Pixar of anime yet, they’re certainly leading the CG-Anime genre, the only thing still letting them down is that their character models have a tough time emoting, and therefore are somewhat hard to connect with. I’ve no doubt that if this were a decently cast, reasonably budgeted, live action movie, that it would have made quite an impact. But as it stands now, if you’ve enjoyed the previous offerings from these guys, then you wont be disappointed by Vexille. [source]