Genocidal Organ is one of those films that from the poster art looks to impress, we have badass army dudes looking badass in a war coloured poster, promising the viewer an amazing time with twists and turns and explosions and shooting and other action related scenarios. Released to us by the remains of Manglobe (Samurai Flamenco, Gangsta, Samurai Champloo, ) the film was in development hell for some time as Manglobe’s bankruptcy postponed the film by over a year, fortunately, a team of former employees managed to get the title out in Japan in early 2017 and to us later.
It would be impossible to summarise the plot of Genocidal Organ in a simple article such as this, but to get the gist of things: The world has been turned into a series of surveillance states thanks to a homemade nuclear device destroying Sarajevo. Waves of Genocides are causing unspeakable horrors across the world and it’s up to Intelligence Agent Clavis Shepherd to track down a man known as ‘John Paul’ across the remains of the world. As you would expect from a synopsis such as this the film tries to keep the mystery of ‘John Paul’ going for as long as possible, unfortunately, the film suffers from a whole lot of pacing issues with the most apparent one is the amount of exposition it requires to set anything up.
Huge chunks of the film is set aside with Clavis simply sitting down and talking to other characters before moving on to another scene where he will sit down and talk to other characters, world building and character motives are fine but sadly in an animation it makes a lot of the film feel redundant, you are given information overload with few scenes in between to allow you to take in what you’ve learnt so far, leaving you simply nodding and agreeing with what is given to you.
Compare this to other animation films where the scenes are set out in what you are seeing it really feels that a lot of Genocidal is a wasted opportunity if this was a live action film it would be more than fine but as an animation, it feels like it’s in the wrong medium. For example imagine in One Piece if Nami told her back story by simply sitting down to Luffy and explaining it, or if Full Metal Alchemist’s Ed simply explained what happened to his mother rather than being able to see it. Animation can be a great tool to tell us what we cannot see normally but using that to simply have long drawn out conversations feels like Genocidal isn’t where it should be.
Amongst these, we do get glimpses of some action and this is where the film really manages to shine, with some exciting set pieces and some horrific scenes telling us what we should be able to see. A perfect example is a line earlier in the film where another character explains that soldiers are modified to the point where they no longer feel any pain, this is further shown when another character has a conversation with Clavis about his legs, both of which blown off, the character shows no pain or concern regarding this making the whole idea of Super Soldiers look far more sinister.
Genocidal Organ’s animation is wholly mixed, while the character designs are exceptional and at times the world does look good you can definitely tell that Manglobe went bankrupt during, this is possibly why a good portion of the film has static sitting down information scenes as it seemed these were cheaper to animate than have the characters move during, during the action scenes however it does manage to keep up however it’s certainly not reaching the high standard provided in other anime movies such as Your Name or Miss Hokusai.
By the end of the film as the credits rolled I would say the film was quite good, it wasn’t a masterpiece or one I particularly thought about once the film was over, it didn’t leave a huge lasting impression on me that other anime films have reached. It wasn’t a bad film but it certainly just felt like an ‘oh well it was worth the cinema ticket I guess.’ although with fewer than 20 people in the cinema and a chunk of them leaving during the showing I can’t help but feel some people didn’t feel the same way.
Genocidal Organ is a weird film in that I personally felt it should not have been an Anime Film but rather a live action movie, alternatively if it was going to go the Anime route it should have been a series, this would have allowed the viewer to take in what was going on and given time to take it all in. Perhaps it was a tired me watching the film late at night with subs but other films have managed to provide adequate food for thought in a well-wrapped manner.
Genocidal Organ is a film that tries to give too much information all at once, it isn’t a bad film by any means however it has a long way to go to be a classic. It presents a lot of great ideas, however, is bogged down by uninspired info dumps that will hinder the viewer’s enjoyment. Be prepared to watch this a few times to get the most of it. On the other hand no doubt this will be one to have a Live Action Tom Cruise remake. Now is that good or bad?