Reviewed by

Christopher Armstead

After a brief summation of where we are at this point in history in this particular future reality in director Fumihiko Sori’s soaring anime ‘Vexille’, we are basically informed that Japan has closed its borders to the entire world due to the world governing body attempts limit the nations phenomenal advances on robot technology.  A high ranking official of the Daiwa corporation which is driving these advances, a cat named Saito (voiced by Akio Otsuka), has slipped away from Japan to conduct clandestine meetings with the worlds leaders to discuss some kind resolution to the ten year impasse Japan has with the rest of the world. Watching these world leaders meet with this guy in the middle of nowhere with practically no one realizing that they are having these meetings does seem suspect to me, but there you go.

Fortunately for the world at large SWORD is on the job. SWORD is obviously an acronym for something or another but if they told me what it was I missed it. I was trying to make up something but the W is completely messing that up, but I’m betting the R and D stand for Robot Defense. Anyways SWORD consists of a group of highly skilled mech clad soldiers led by the stoic Leon Fayden (Shosuke Tanihara) and his lady love Vexille Serra (Meisa Kuroki). Their job is a simple one this Christmas Eve… kill Saito and go home.

One would think a half dozen highly trained mech soldiers and about 100 of their armed robot friends could easily take out one lowly corporate executive but Saito had something for them. Even while Saito was attempting to make his escape Vexille still had a grip on the right leg of her mark until Saito simply cut it off. That’s one tough bastard right there, that is if he were human. At least the heads of state were saved… or were they?

The fact that Daiwa Corp. has apparently mastered android technology is a gross violation of all kinds U.N. treaties and the U.S. Government needs to know what the hell they are doing over there, a notion made almost impossible by Japan’s advanced shielding and wave scrambling technologies. It is now time for the SWORD mechs to jump into action, infiltrate Japan, and take down their communication barriers to find out what is happening in Tokyo. They will not like what they find.

Sori’sVexille’, in a word, is spectacular. And empty. It is high concept while at the same time being very, very basic. But let’s take a look at the spectacular first because as a piece of visual entertainment ‘Vexille’ has few peers. Using the cel shading animation technique similar to that seen in ‘Appleseed: Ex Machina’ ‘Vexille’ is truly something to behold. The animation is crisp and clean, the action is thrilling and explosive and the sound is loud and obnoxious just the way we like it. The larger your vessel for viewing this visual masterpiece and the more refined your audio system, the more enjoyment you will get out of watching this movie. Bless those precious few who had the opportunity to experience this visual and aural work of art in theaters.

That being said there is more to an entity that being devastatingly handsome and having a silky smooth voice… as I have personally been told on numerous occasions. While there are characters inside these amazing mech suits that the agents of SWORD use, good luck in learning anything about these people. This also includes the star of this movie in the character of Vexille, which was particularly frustrating. It could only have helped the film if we had known why Vexille became a member of SWORD, especially since she’s their lone female representative, or why she’s kicking it with the emotionless Leon or especially why she hates robots while forced to work inside of one everyday. That would’ve been some interesting stuff to know. There is some development of the character of Maria (Yasuko Matsuyuki), a former Daiwa employee working on the inside of Japan to help SWORD stop Daiwa’s nefarious plans, and as a result she was a far more interesting character than that of Vexille and I personally had more invested emotionally in the character of Maria, but the movie wasn’t called ‘Maria’.

I also enjoyed the core of the story immensely, Japan turning into a rogue nation and then the reveal of what had become of Japan once SWORD was able to get behind their defense systems, but as high concept as the story might’ve seemed initially, it all ultimately devolved into a very simple run-shoot and chase scenario. But what a run-shoot and chase scenario it turned out to be.

The bottom line, at least for me, is that the thrill of the ride greatly outweighs the overall vacuous nature of the story. I would’ve liked to have seen more development for my little CGI characters and I wouldn’t have minded if the narrative were expanded a little more, I mean the movie was plenty long enough to do this, but in absence of those things ‘Vexille’ was still a visual extravaganza that seriously should not be missed by anyone who enjoys animated films.


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