Writer: Shûkô Murase (screenplay), Project Itoh (novel)
Cast: Yûichi Nakamura, Takahiro Sakurai, Sanae Kobayashi
Running time: 115mins
What’s the story: In 2022, five years after terrorists detonated a nuclear device in Sarajevo, civil war has become widespread. Clavis Shepherd (Nakamura), member of US Special Forces, discovers a reason for this violence may lie with the elusive American John Paul (Sakurai) and the hunt is on.
What’s the verdict: Brutal and bleak, Shûkô Murase’s Genocidal Organ is a chillingly believable view of future warfare.
Ambitious sci-fi, its source novel comes from the late Satoshi Itoh, who wrote this, Harmony and The Empire of Corpses under the pseudonym Project Itoh before dying aged 34. Nation manipulation, mood-altering drugs and shockingly destructive military hardware all appear over two blood-soaked hours.
With its European and South East Asian locations, the movie has the feel of an ultra-violent Bourne movie (and makes a better fist of the “super soldier” idea than The Bourne Legacy). Murase stages cat and mouse chases with the same tension Greengrass brought to The Bourne Supremacy, and central character Shepherd is also plagued by troubling Jason Bourne-style memories of his actions on the job.
Murase, a veteran of such anime as Cowboy Bebop: The Movie and Gangsta, can mount bloody set-pieces with the grim awe legendary director Mamoru Oshii brought to Ghost in the Shell and Patlabor. Although Genocidal Organ ups the splatter quota by several vats of brains and blood (in cake-and-eat-it action scenes the movie ultimately gets away with).
Clavis Shepherd and John Paul (plus love interest Lucia Skroupova) are devices to maintain plot momentum and allow the film to explore key themes. Luckily, these themes (shifts in language and social patterns forecasting mass murder, the ethics of smothering real emotion with PTSD blocking meds) carry sufficient interest to make the movie diverting. Even when the brains of drugged-up child soldiers are splashed across palace walls…
This is also a rare movie that would benefit from an English dub. The Japanese language used for American, Eastern European and Asian characters is distracting, and out-of-tune with one of the film’s central themes.
Nonetheless, this unusual animation remains impressive, right down to its pleasingly ambiguous denouement.
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