I must admit that of all the films being shown during Reel Anime 08, Vexille is perhaps the one film I knew nothing about. Appleseed I managed to catch at SIFF; Girl Who Leapt Through Time has been on my radar for at least a year now though I never got around to actually watching it and Batman… – well Batman is Batman isn’t it? How much do you really need to know about Batman that, as an internet-browsing, film-watching member of the public you no doubt are that you don’t already know.
So watching Vexille was a complete surprise with no expectations apart from the blurb in the brochure as a dystopian Anime that’s likely to be well animated and full of explosions and such. Hmm – ok, maybe expectations did exist but that’s mainly because I was personally disappointed by Appleseed: Ex Machina. The thing is, saying Vexille is a bit of a dystopian Anime almost feels like a tautology since its become almost cliche that the newest shiny anime that we should look forward to involves high technology and and is a tale of human hubris.
Which, in Vexille’s case, is most certainly true. It deals with human hubris, the loss of humanity and a certain nostalgia for the changing identity of human community in a way that feels like all the boxes are ticked and I think that is perhaps part of the problem. It really does feel some of the plot elements and depth of substance to the plot is non-existent and have either been taken out for the sake of brevity or narrative flow or just weren’t there in the first place. It’s this thinking that I assumed that Vexille was a manga first that had been adapted to within an inch of it’s life but it appears not to be the case. Which is a shame because I generally like the themes that are in the film and it is part of the reason I keep coming back to these films even though there seems to be only so much left to be said on the subject.
So I guess the problem with Vexille is that it really doesn’t add anything to the library of the genre. Which is a shame because it really is a shiny film and the story is compelling enough to hold your attention for the duration of the film. Whilst I may doubt the quality of the writing for the story, I have to say that between this and Ping Pong Sori Fumihiko really knows how to compose a scene and the tracking shot of Tokyo that he does is breathtaking in its demonstration of the technology and just sheer beauty of the density of humanity. I do question some of his editing however as I really think he overuses slow motion to punctuate his action sequences. Nonetheless, some of the action sequences are well composed adding the right amount of over the top to either ease up the drama somewhat or just leave you thinking how stupidly cool that was.
Overall Vexille is good popcorn fare and, in general, a well made film. Part of my problem is perhaps not so much to do with the film but rather the disappointment at how it dangles some juicy story before me dressed up in its fancy computer animation and leaves me with nothing but empty mental calories.