What They Say:
In Genocidal Organ, while developed countries rely on advanced surveillance to free them from the threat of terrorism, other nations are plagued by genocide within their own borders. Strangely, these massacres all link back to one American by the name of John Paul. Special agent Clavis Shepherd is sent to capture the target, but nothing can prepare this soldier—or the world—for the truth behind humanity’s darkness.
The audio presentation for this film brings us the original Japanese language track and the English language dub in 5.1 form encoded using the Dolby TrueHD lossless codec. The film is one that’s definitely dialogue heavy with what it wants to do but it also balances it with some tight action that fits in the thriller mode in all the right ways, making for some exciting sequences with a lot of impact as the weapons have a good bit of directionality to them and the bass punctuates just right. The dialogue itself has some nicely done creative moments that handles the way it’s placed with headphones and the like to give it a kind of disconnected feeling that works. The bulk of it is all in-person dialogue though and that works well as the camera moves around from time to time and the back and forth is well-executed. Everything is clean and clear throughout and we didn’t have any problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.
Originally released in 2016, the transfer for this film is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 in 1080p using the AVC codec. Animated initially by Manglobe and taken over by Geno Studio, the project looks fantastic with some great backgrounds, strong character designs that plays to a real world design, and some fantastic mechanical design to give it a near-future feeling in all the right ways. The encoding captures all of this in a crisp and clean look with solid colors that pop where they need to but also hold up really well in some of the dark and murky sequences or through the infrared design. It’s easy to get drawn into the film with the visual presentation and the encoding for it is spot on.
The packaging for this release comes in a standard sized Blu-ray case with both discs held against the interior walls and it has an o-card slipcover to it that replicates the case artwork. While it’s not as strong a difference as some other releases with the o-card, it does look just a bit brighter and slicker here in comparison and I’m very glad they kept to a black strip along the top instead of the usual blue strip. The back cover goes minimal with just a simple black background so we have a couple of good shots from the show and a piece of one of the key visuals that gives it an intense feeling. The premise is well handled and we get a good breakdown of the technical information along the bottom. While there are no show related inserts we do get a great two-panel spread of the main key visual that’s filled with great detail and just looks slick as hell.
The menu for this release keeps things very simple but in a good way that fits with the film as we get a series of good clips from the show playing over the majority of the screen. These are various setting piece with some intensity creeping into it that definitely sets the mood very well. THe logo is kept to the upper left corner in a kind of small and minimalist way while the strip near the bottom for the navigation is welcome as it doesn’t just use a large block with a lot of empty space but goes for a more targeted size in black with white text that definitely fits for the project. Submenus load quickly and everything is easily accessed and quick to load both as the main menu and as the pop-up menu during playback.
The extras for this release are among the familiar as we get the TV spots and the original promo for it. Funimation also produced an original ten minute extra with some of the folks involved in the project from the localization side talking about it and their characters that’s pretty fun.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Based on the novel of the same name from Project Itoh, Genocidal Organ is the third and final film in the trilogy that was put together with different animation studios over the last couple of years. This film was problematic as studio Manglobe went under during production and that delayed it from being one of the earlier planned films to the last one by a good margin as it didn’t have its full Japanese premiere until February 2017. This film was written and directed by Shuko Murase who had served as animation director in a lot of projects and was the director on Ergo Proxy, which seriously upped my initial interest in this for all the right reasons.
This project definitely clicked for me in a big way with the material it dealt with, something that a lot of anime hasn’t really done in a long time or as regularly as it used to years ago. It takes place several years from now in a world where it’s like ours but technology has moved a bit more rapidly in comparison even for something that takes place during 2020 and 2022 or so. The nature of the world changed after 2018 when a homemade nuclear bomb went off in Sarajevo amid all kinds of heightened strife. That incident set off a massive change in how numerous countries handled things as it became an “over there” focus in stopping things. Targeted missions to try and undercut terrorism got underway and a strong movement of giving up numerous freedoms in exchange for perceived safety ensued. The film works some really interesting discussions as it progresses about what America became after 9/11 and with this operating largely with American characters it provides an obvious (and heavily reported on) look at how the nation dealt with such an attack. That sets the foundations for things here and it’s woven throughout it.
The focus is on a special ops soldier name Calvis Shepherd as he and his team after a strong opening action sequence are assigned to trying to track down John Paul, a mystery man that seems to be connected to a wave of problems across Africa and parts of Asia. We see how his movements across these regions seem to foment strife leading to a fear of others that results in a severe crackdown in the obvious genocidal way. We get a taste of that in the opening in Georgia with Clavis and the others operating in one of these areas amid a discussion of what hell is but it’s designed to show the dark lengths people will go to in order to deal with perceived threats and how soldiers will compartmentalize in order to carry out their assignments, even if they believe in the larger end goals of it all. The mindset of dealing with threats where they originate than within the target country is an easy one to understand and work with, though it’s never ever that simple when you get down to actually looking at it.
The hunt that gets underway for mystery man John Paul that seems to be at the root of this is definitely engaging as Shepherd knows he’s not getting all of the information but is carrying out orders with his team that takes them to a few different locations. This digs into John Paul’s past and the layers of truth that that they know about him are peeled away, resulting in some really engaging moments when they have to confront him. There are some really nicely done twists here when it gets into how all of this genocide is being orchestrated and while there’s an element that ties it to the fantastical since it goes back into the primal side of the species, it’s all things that have been tackled in film and novels before that make for a really engaging story. This is the kind of material that I really enjoy as it deals with actual events in the world and attempts to at least ask the right questions even if it’s not truly trying to answer them, but offering a perspective to see how badly some choices can be executed.
The concepts work very well because the characters are engaging. It’s definitely kept simple as most of the cast are simply supporting characters to Shepherd and he has to carry things throughout as very few scenes occur without him. His comrades provide the support and questioning that’s needed and the back and forth pieces with John Paul are great. I even really liked what we had with Lucia as it digs into someone that John Paul knew that could be complicit or offer a new avenue to try and track him down. This is also a great human element to complement the mechanical side with the near-future technology all being things you can easily imagine as either being researched now or closer than we think in a lot of ways, which gives it that greater air of realism because you can see how it would be pursued and why. Those touches are what has made Project Itoh’s works even stronger because it’s not fantastical but solidly grounded near futurism.
I’ve enjoyed the first two Project Itoh movies a lot with what they did as Harmony gave us far future material while Empire of Corpses played fast and loose with the past. Genocidal Organ could have gone in a number of ways but with it firmly rooted in a post-9/11 world and dealing with largely American characters and showing the way they interact with the world through the government and military was definitely a great way to explore not just the surveillance state but a range of other things. Shepherd and John Paul provide for some great scenes and the rest of the cast adds a lot to it that could easily be fleshed out into a longer project. While I wouldn’t want to see a live-action film for this, Genocidal Organ is something that could make for an engaging multi-season live-action project that could ask a lot of uncomfortable questions to challenge people with. Very recommended.
Japanese Dolby TrueHD 5.1 Language, English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 Language, English Subtitles, Cast Discussion: Philosophy of the Genocidal Organ Original Trailer, Promo Video, TV Spots, Trailers
Content Grade: A
Audio Grade: A-
Video Grade: A
Packaging Grade: B+
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: B
Released By: Funimation
Release Date: November 7th, 2017
Running Time: 115 Minutes
Video Encoding: 1080p AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen
Sony KDL70R550A 70″ LED 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.