Pure Asian Entertainment: Film, TV, Anime & Manga
Vexille - Movie

A movie directed by Fumihiko Sori.

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Intriguing Themes Beneath Wonderful Visual Detail

  • Feb 2, 2011

Well I suppose it’s only right to open this review with a disclaimer.  Given my recent tear through the genre of (domestic) computer animated feature films, I suppose it’s pretty much natural that curiosity and the desire to draw comparisons would lead me back to my anime roots.  After all, I reasoned, it’s downright amazing how different the approach between American and Asian methodology is when concerning the art of computer-generated film:  Here in the States kid friendliness takes the foreground with just enough layered humor/ cleverness to offer entertainment to viewers of all ages.

Anime features like Vexille take a very different development path right from the onset in that this is essentially an animated version of an adult oriented motion picture.  No need to take my word for it, the synopsis verifies this reality:

In the near future, Japan has achieved a global monopoly on robotics development. In response to an international ban on android development in 2067, Japan goes as far as to withdraw from the U.N. then adapts its advanced technology to isolate itself from the rest of the world. A decade later, a secret meeting with politicians organized by Japan's leading Daiwa Heavy Industries gets raided by S.W.O.R.D., an elite U.S. Navy task force of which female lead Vexille (and her lover Leon) are members. The circumstances encountered during that raid convince S.W.O.R.D. to undertake a daring infiltration of Japan itself, and what Vexille discovers happening there could pose a threat to the future of all of humanity.

If all of this sounds slightly familiar, that’s because Vexille plays upon almost all of the popular anime touchstones in near point for point accuracy.  However, what is interesting is that this piece clearly positions the nation that spawned it as the international villain with an American force called upon to come in and clean up the Japanese jumble.

On the surface this may all sound like the perfect formula for an action-packed, science fiction based thrill ride (and it is); it’s also the catalyst for some pretty powerful political statements.  The danger of nationalistic tendencies, the definition of sentience, and the line separating man and machine are just some of the underlying themes presented here.  Some of it is a bit heavier handed in its delivery than others but overall the message comes through loud and clear.

And even if the underlying message translation isn’t your bag, Vexille is nothing short of a feast for the optics. The production team behind the hugely successful Appleseed CG film reunites here and delivers on a blend of cell shading coupled with rotoscoping to create a visual stunner.  Truly some of the scenes more powerful segments require a second look just ensure that it isn’t in fact actual footage.

Pacing is perfect with a film that progresses smoothly across it’s under two-hour runtime without ever coming across as rushed or bogged down within its prose.

Critics are quick to point out a lack of plausibility with the some of the story’s plot points and indeed, nitpicking certainly results in a few plot holes but I’m of the opinion that the core of the entertainment value here is found in the suspension of disbelief rather than by attempting to find faults in some of the fictional reasoning.

Now comes the trickiest part of the review, the language debate.  Like all sub & dub anime titles, Vexille is perhaps strongest emotionally when viewed in its native Japanese (with English subtitles for those of us who cannot understand the language).  However, the English dub is very strong here as well.  This one in particular seems to deviate from the original dialog more than is customary in a dub, due surely to the fact that some of the native script could well be considered offensive by many cultures.  However, what results is quite a solid English dub from Funimation’s upper echelon of vocal talent (led here by Colleen Clinkenbeard).

In all Vexille is a film that does an awful lot of things really well. On the surface it is an action spectacle with cool armor, awesome technology, futuristic politics and intense action scenes.  Below the surface it’s the catalyst for some intelligent concepts and serious concerns about the world around us.  I thoroughly enjoyed this one from beginning to end and feel the experience was certainly a reminder as to what it is that makes anime sensibilities so attractive to me in the first place.

Intriguing Themes Beneath Wonderful Visual Detail Intriguing Themes Beneath Wonderful Visual Detail Intriguing Themes Beneath Wonderful Visual Detail Intriguing Themes Beneath Wonderful Visual Detail

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February 13, 2011
I enjoyed this as well, great review.
February 15, 2011
Thanks FMA! Appreciate the read. I was very, pleasantly surprised with this one.
February 02, 2011
sweet, dude!I actually liked this a lot more than the 2nd Appleseed film--Ex Machina. read my review of Vexille?This had a lot of underlying emotions and while it didn't go all the way, I thought they were still pretty well-conceived. Thanks for the return to anime! Now time for me to review an anime classic....maybe even two. ;)
February 15, 2011
Woop I actually read your review on Amazon when I posted this there. The funny thing is I hadn't even paid attention to the name of the reviewer. I finished the critique and thought now that was a reviewer I can relate to.. Scroll up to the top, Mr. William. I should have known from the get go!
More Vexille (movie) reviews
review by . March 27, 2009
posted in ASIANatomy
As a fan of Asian cinema, I've often wondered why I haven't reviewed more Japanese anime. Traditional anime has very complex storylines that can put most movies to shame. "VEXILLE" (a.k.a. Vexille 2077 Nihon Sakaku, Isolation) is from the same folks responsible for Appleseed and Ghost in the Shell: S.A.C.. Director Fumihiko Sori and writer Haruka Handa's latest is a blend of traditional 2 dimensional animation and 3-D effects that gives us a vision of a futuristic world. People …
review by . June 18, 2008
I must admit that initial reason for picking this movie was the soundtrack by Paul Oakenfold but I ended up loving the movie. Overall visually it was stunning, nothing less than you would expect from the high tech Japanese animation and the story was very interesting. I won't dissect what the main story was; in a nutshell America gets involved with Japan after ten years of seclusion and secret bio engineering projects are starting to threaten man kind. Humans and robots start to mix forming an eerie …
review by . June 19, 2008
Not everyone is an anime fan, if they're basing their opinion on the first of this genre. But Vexville comes as a riveting surprise, first, for the amazing light-years progress of anime and CGI, and second, for the storyline that is quite incredible for this artform.    Set in the future, Japan has isolated itself against a world that seeks to stop the integration of robotics with human beings. Japan (in the story) is a world leader in the development of these robot applications, …
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Jason Rider (AKA OneNeo on is the author of the successful children's fantasy novel series The Uncommon Adventures of Tucker O'Doyle from Bellissima Publishing.      … more
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About this movie


Vexille(2007, subtitled2077 Nippon Sakoku: "2077 Isolation of Japan") is a CG/motion capture film that apes the popularAppleseedseries. In 2077, 10 years after Japan withdrew into a sort of neo-Tokugawa isolation to pursue illegal cyborg technology, most of the population has been turned into androids by the evil Daiwa Heavy Industries. Vexille, a tough-as-press-on-nailsmechapilot in theDeunan Knute mode, joins in a raid on the remains of Tokyo to learn about the threat this technology poses. An unremarkable series of chases,mechabattles and Morris-the-Explainer-scenes ensues as Vexille, her beau Leon, and the few Japanese who still cling to their humanity destroy Daiwa's fortified island headquarters. Most of the story elements are borrowed other films, includingAppleseed Ex Machina,Duneand the twoGhost in the Shellfeatures.Vexillewas clearly a low-budget production: the poorly rendered figures ressemble wax puppets and their shadows shrink and grow like stains on their clothing. (Rated PG-13: violence, violence against women, tobacco use)--Charles Solomon

Stills from Vexille (click for larger image)




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Director: Fumihiko Sori
Genre: Foreign
DVD Release Date: May 20, 2008
Runtime: 109 minutes
Studio: Funimation
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