‘Vexille’ is one of a number of anime being produced with CGI as opposed to conventional cell drawn animation and is a scrumptious example of what exactly can be done with CG animation. Much like the Korean animation ‘Sky Blue’; ‘Vexille’ has a penchant for crafting fabulous animation yet lacking anything resembling a story.
Essentially the backbone to the piece is the concept that Japan, in 2066, has regressed to its isolation of the Tokugawa period and the USA is very keen to know as to why Japan is isolated. Perhaps Japan is producing a super weapon that can be utilised against America for example. The answer is that Japan has been producing huge quantities of robots, so much so that the United Nations has placed a global cap on robot production, and these robots are not only the metallic kind but are also extremely life-like androids. So life-like in fact that they could be the next step in human evolution.
‘Vexille’ combines the traditional science fiction tropes of human development and evolution with an attempt at trying to provide a message as to what exactly life is about.
Ten years later in order to allow the USA to penetrate an isolated Japan an organisation called SWORD goes into Japan to plant a transmitter that will allow US satellites to be able to scan Japan. This would then allow the USA to assess Japan’s defences etc. before moving in to conquer them. SWORD is comprised of five members of which Vexille is the sole female on the team. Essentially following her journey in Japan and how she helps save the world, discovers the meaning of life and bags the boy of her dreams.
I think this sounds reasonably deep and thoughtful. Indeed the use of the traditional science fiction tropes of what is the purpose of life and the where does human evolution go from here makes ‘Vexille’ appear deep. However ‘Vexille’ is not ‘Ghost in the Shell’. It does not combine beauty with brains. Rather ‘Vexille’ suffers from ‘Sky Blue’ syndrome in that it is a case of a film that is a piece of art that is incredibly indelible in terms of its animation but it could be argued that the film suffers as a result of that. It seems that the ‘Vexille’ production team had a lavish budget to spend on crafting perfect animation yet lacked any money to spend on actually employing people to fashion a great story and script.
The main problem is that all the characters just feel like devices for advancing for what little of the plot there is. Indeed when three of the SWORD team are killed by Japanese defence forces I felt nothing. I felt neither happy nor sad. Surely the death of some of the protagonists would make me feel something. I also felt nothing for the fate of the ordinary Japanese people. Any kind of emotion that could have been generated by the story is squandered by the fact that these characters are not three dimensional, but rather they are two dimensional. This is confounded by the fact that the protagonist, Vexille, should be at the centre of the film yet I feel she is merely a cog in the inner workings of a film that has failed. She is at the centre but yet just feels like a catalyst for making things happen in the plot. All the characters lack the ability to inspire any emotional responses from the audience and end up just appearing as being walking plot devices.
Perhaps the story is left wanting slightly, yet what this film lacks in story it could easily make it back with some stunning visuals! Truly this film has a great visual aesthetic and apart from when characters kiss is really impressive. For example the Jags are just fantastically animated! They look fantastic. Even the characters feel like they have been carefully crafted out of the finest materials going. Indeed Vexille does actually look for nice which could make up for her lack of any personality!
However I believe that this film’s visuals only could make up for any lack of story. Without a story all these visuals just to waste. I want to care about the story since I want to be entertained. Any piece of art must say something otherwise it is just a pretty picture to discard at any moment. ‘Vexille’ although having a truly great aesthetic just lacks anything to make all that work and effort actually go towards something that can be said to be a really good film. In many ways ‘Vexille’ just lacks anything too good in great quantities instead offering the viewer a chance to watch something is style over substance. In many ways ‘Vexille’ is much more ‘Sky Blue’ rather than ‘Ghost in the Shell’.