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  Publicity Stills of "Vexille"
(Courtesy from Cathay-Keris Films)

In Japanese with English Subtitles
Director: Fumihiko Sori
Cast (Voices): Meisa Kuroki, Yasuko Matsuyuki, Romi Pak
Runtime: 1 hr 49 mins
Released By: Cathay-Keris Films & Innoform Media
Rating: NC16 (Some Violence)
Official Website: http://www.vexille.jp/

Opening Day: 27 December 2007


Japan, 2077: Japan has become a renegade nation closed to the rest of the world. Shielded from penetration by air, sea and space for 10 years, the island nation has become a dangerous mystery to the United Nations. The country's isolation resulted when it fell out with other countries over the development of robotics and its determination to continue creating them even when they were banned everywhere else. The fear is that it has now taken its creation of human androids to extreme and the only way to find answers is to send in a crack team of fighters to hook up with Japanese underground rebels and find out what's going on. Enter Vexille, a female special agent, whose squad uses ultra-high-tech uniforms, weapons and vehicles to rocket into battle.

Movie Review:

“Ultimately, the sociopolitical aspect of Vexille is so flat you feel like a listless cyborg at the end of the movie, robbed of your inner cyberpunk soul and wondering when you’ll discover that the genre is not dead and buried by standard-issue repetitive fare.”

When it comes to cyberpunk, the Japanese anime genre is literally a colossal behemoth in its right. Arguably inspiring the likes of The Matrix and spawning countless OVAs, movies, fanboys can literally give lectures on the far-reaching impact of a socially and politically intricate genre fuelled by a technologically gifted and socially complex nation that is Japan. Fumihiko Sori, of Appleseed VFX credit, presents Vexille, a 2D on 3D anime in the veins of Ghost in the Shell 2 that delivers more of the same cyberpunk fare – this time with a upped level of celluloid flashiness but somewhat lacking in the intuitive rawness and perception of the Ghost in the Shell franchise, for example.

For a start, Vexille is visually entertaining and delivers on that front. However, truth be told, it is not any more impressive than what we’ve come to expect of anime in the past half decade. As such, it comes off as a pretty commercial run-of-the-mill production of an established genre. The lead character, female detective cum security officer Vexille, is certainly no Motoko. While the Major was alluring in a dangerous, mysterious manner that draws you into her troubled psyche masked by a brave and formidable exterior, Vexille is unexpectedly flat. Lacking a strong foil that Masamune Shirow’s Batou played to a T, Vexille does little to draw the audience into developing a strong interest and following for the plot-line that drives the story.

Truth be told, for a any plot conflict or storyline to truly be ground-breaking and inspiring enough it takes more than one about technology-advanced Japan sealing itself from the rest of the world after discovering technology that fuses humans with robotics. Yes, its overdone, repetitive and, in Vexille, underdeveloped. The visually intriguing pseudo cell-shading and dark-deep colours add to the highlighting of the disparity in visual execution and storyline. Its like the popcorn chomping “blockbuster” for summer, you get from start to end in a cookie-cutter plot where you pretty much know what goes on an a super stylized and typical lead just drags us through the story as we nod and try to cheer along. In the world of anime and especially cyberpunk, this definitely isn’t enough.

For the casual anime follower, Vexille will still pretty much offer a sufficient anime fix, albeit an uninspiring one. For the Ghost in The Shell fan, getting from scene to scene becomes increasingly unbearable – all caused by a deep yearning for the Major to jump in and kick some major butt and wake all these guys up from there pseudo-sophistication and dramatizing of a plot that looks trivial in comparison. Nothing surprises, stuns or draws you into thinking to a point of poking yourself to check that you don’t quite have a skeleton of alloy metals. You don’t quite even worry for Vexille when frankly, it should be a “dangerous”, probing mission that tries to unveil a hidden technological development that threatens to derail mankind. Nope, it all simply shuffles along like a well produced, shiny, fresh from the factory anime – think Final Fantasy and the listless spirits within.

Ultimately, the sociopolitical aspect of Vexille is so flat you feel like a listless cyborg at the end of the movie, robbed of your inner cyberpunk soul and wondering when you’ll discover that the genre is not dead and buried by standard-issue repetitive fare. Except that Vexille probably didn’t intend to break new ground or explore frontiers in a legendary genre, so just enjoy it and soak in another human-cyborg adventure. Then head home to gaze at that Major Kusanagi poster in your room and wish out a Ghost in The Shell Three.

Movie Rating:

("Vexille, you’ve been fired and replaced by Major Kusanagi" – I wish)

Review by
Daniel Lim


. Ratatouille (2007)

. Brave Story (2006)

. Doraemon The Movie (2006)

. The Girl Who Leapt Through Time (2006)


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