Genocidal Organ (15) | Close-Up Film Review

Dir. Shûkô Murase, Japan, 2017, 114 mins, subtitled

Voice cast: Yuki Kaji, Takahiro Sakurai, Akio Ôtsuka, Kaito Ishikawa, Yûichi Nakamura, Sanae Kobayashi

Review by Colin Dibben

Cogent, hi-concept and violent, this striking near-future war film is a welcome step into proper storytelling for Japanese animation.

A heavily armed, high-tech military unit is sent to Prague to eliminate the evil mastermind behind a series of genocides that have swept the poorer parts of the world, from the Balkans to Africa and the Middle East. But he’s called ‘mastermind’ for a reason – and soon the survivors from the unit are playing his game of cat and mouse across continents.

If you want a look at the future of counter terrorism, look no further than Genocidal Organ. It’s a great near-future war film with lots of credible technological details, such as sensory mask armour and liquid, smart contact lenses; and an intriguing story that actually makes sense (which I find unusual for japanimation). Even the grim violence is gripping if grisly; and the shootouts are well visualised.

Unexpectedly, the film has a nice, moody feel for the city of Prague, elements of which enable the protagonists to namesdrop and hold philosophical conversations that for once seem appropriate and, more importantly, make sense.

The central conceit of the film, the one that gives it that alarming title, is that language is not merely a vector of violence; but that it is a viral, genetic coding for prejudice, hatred and mass murder. The argument that this pre-disposition can and should be exploited in the interests of ‘global security’ via the exporting of terrorism … well, it doesn’t actually seem far-fetched at all.

The denouement is the only minor letdown: it merely restates a reveal from halfway though the film. But I suppose this is just following through on the grim logic of the great idea at the heart of this thought-provoking and visceral animated film.

Genocidal Organ comes to UK cinemas from 12 July 2017.