“I’m prepared to protect my world. A world where I can order a jalapeno pizza, and pay for it with my ID thumbprint! Where I can throw away half my Big Mac just because I’m full, and I want too!” – Williams from Genocidal Organ (I thought this line was hilarious both in, and out context. Best reflects this movie in a nutshell)
Politics, conspiracy theories, theology, psychology, and man’s morality are all tricky subject matter to tackle. Let alone all together into a single movie like Genocidal Organ attempts to do. Presenting itself as this intellectually deep film while providing some over the top blood & gore to attract casual viewers. It’s a animated film that requires all your attention to stay awake while watching. If the long talkative scenes that over explain things don’t bore you than the lack of engaging characters will.
Set in a time when Sarajevo was obliterated by a homemade nuclear device, Genocidal Organ story reflects a world inundated with genocide. An American by the name of John Paul seems to be responsible for all of this, and intelligence agent Clavis Shepherd treks across the wasteland of the world to find him and the eponymous “genocidal organ”. The setting of Genocidal Organ is nicely realize painting broad a picture of a semi-dystopia US. Creating the world by going into detail what led the country down the path it did. You’ll get a good grasp at the type of world this movie takes place in, and how exactly characters feel about living under a heavily surveillance country.
Too bad the way it’s set up is through jargon dialogue going out of it way to over explain things for the audience. Some of this is reasonable like explaining why there’s a difference in surveillance security in different countries, and how the US adapted to combat terrorists attacks. When it tries to go into the more philosophical it drones on. Theology, politics, linguistics, and so much more will be the subject of a single conversation clunkily moving across these topics. These type of conversations consist throughout the movie making it unnatural sounding to listen too. Heck, the movie has a difficult time keeping mundane talk mundane when injecting these kind of subjects into them needlessly.
Amidst all these ideas are a cast of boring characters. The story dictates the characters we follow don’t feel emotion due to their military training. Our lead Clavis Shepherd slowly starts questioning that over time in the film. This plot point would work if the film presented itself better. There’s a sequence where Clavis, and his team storm into a building to killing a group of children guerrilla fighters. By removing his emotion what one should take away from this moment is difficult to pinpoint. Clavis is a blank slate just coming across as a mouthpiece for the writer to spout his belief making him uninteresting. Conflicting interests clashes with long diatribes against society with brief moments of hyper violence spread across it. Instead of leaving an impression it just fades into the background with seemingly nothing of value added to the story.
Characters spend more time discussing ideals they forget to have personalities. Only Williams in the cast shows any personality cracking jokes every one in a while, and bringing up how much he loves his family. He feels human in a story that otherwise dehumanizes it characters down to just mere ideals. Sadly, Williams is not our main character so instead of seeing a amoral conflict developed in the story. We have instead the already amoral Clavis Shepherd becoming infatuated with a woman he barely met. If not for the blank slate that he was Clavis seeing his world in a different would have had a impact. There isn’t enough know about Clavis to make the transition easy to get behind either in his romantic fling, or his world views.
John Paul is sadly generic as one can get for a villain. Spouting the usual humanity is evil dialogue. What takes the cake with this character is his explanation that genocide has a grammar to it. The science behind it makes sense in the film’s context since there are silly sci-fi elements to accept it’s possible. This still doesn’t make for compelling dialogue though. However, he’s a slightly better written character because his motivation is explained, even if questionable how one thing lead to another.
What is not questionable is the fact the film uses John Paul stance against the government to prove a point that sacrificing freedom is a bad thing. If the film accepted the fact John Paul actions to prove his point is equally just as bad it would have been thought provoking. If there’s someone like John Paul capable of causing genocide through mere words would I want sacrifice my freedom to ensure he doesn’t cause harm to me? Instead of thinking about that I wonder why the movie thought justifying mass genocides was a thing it needed to do. There’s no grey area on this topic because all it does is make John Paul the embodiment of a hypocrite. Either change the tragic backstory, or make John Paul a straight up delusional villain to prevent an imbalance between the message of the story, and the film’s villain.
The Japanese voices take a lost on this one for their performances. All the dialogue is western based, and it simply feels like the Japanese did a literal translation of everything of Western phrases. So the Japanese cast has to awkwardly pause, or speed their delivery to match the lip flap. Instead of localizing certain phrases to sound natural in Japanese the literal translation creates an even more unnatural flow to the dialogue. Plus, the Japanese cast ain’t able to capture, or in some cases attempt to mimic the accent of their characters.
Josh Grelle plays Clavis Shepherd coming off monotone for the entire film. The point of Grelle character is be emotionless, but over time he’s meant to be cracking through the monotonous shell with emotion. Unless Grelle screams, it’s nearly indistinguishable to tell apart when his character changes. Overtime this lack of enunciating his emotions eventually just comes off as stoic.
Ian Sinclair is the most enjoyable actor in the English dub. He gets to show personality unlike the rest of the actors. Being allowed to be funny, serious, and anything in between. Providing the film levity, and dramatic weight it desperately needed where it’s regularly lacking.
The film’s was originally animated by Manglobe, and once Manglobe closed down it changed production to Geno Studio. It’s obvious to tell that the film had a rocky production history since details, animations, and background quality shift around. Hair details for example is inconsistent; sometimes the hair is detailed with different shading changing depending on the lighting, and other times it remains the same despite the lighting in a scene. There’s some usage of CG that sticks out, but are used sparingly. One of the highlight is animated sequence done in first person which looks pretty good.
Animation is fluid when it moves, but noticeably drop in quality when characters still down, and stand still in a scene. Typically using a panning shots from far away to cut down on details on the characters. Environments are very detailed, and since takes place in countries all over the world the change in locale is appreciated. Character designs are hit and miss. Sometimes they look fine, and other times like during the action scenes their faces, or body structure just seem off. Lastly, the film does have a few over the top action sequence that bump up the blood, and gore, but they rarely happen in the movie. In line with the dialogue the music itself feels like an afterthought. There’s nothing remarkable about it. Just being loud, and noisy to fill the scene.
Genocidal Organ is the last film Manglobe had in production before it went into bankruptcy in 2015 before getting finished by Geno Studio. Instead of leaving the anime world on a good note this movie best summarizes Manglobe existence in a nutshell. You have a series of great ideas in Genocidal Organ, but with a less than stellar execution. Sharing its ideas before providing a good story to go along side with it. Manglobe name might be behind some fondly remembered animes, but Genocidal Organ ain’t going to be one of them.