What is true Hell: a land of ethnic cleansing or the scars that such a sight leaves forever on your mind?
This past Tuesday at the Tokyo International Film Festival’s TIFF Ani!! Event, Anime Now! (along with a packed theater of fans) was on hand to see the first fifteen minutes of the upcoming film Genocidal Organ. The final film in a series of films based on the works of the late Project Itoh (Empire of Corpses, Harmony), Genocidal Organ is one part spy-thriller and one part dark musings on the nature of the human soul–all covered with a healthy layer of ultraviolence.
The film begins by following a group of American special ops troops infiltrating a war-torn country in the midst of a government-sanctioned genocide of a minority of its population. The first characters we meet are not the special ops team themselves, however, but rather their first victims: a squad of local soldiers.
Taking the guards’ truck, the Americans discuss the nature of Hell as they drive past mass graves, firing squads, and other horrors. The obvious sentiment is that they are, in fact, in Hell–what better word could be used to describe being ground zero of a genocide? But the film is clearly not interested in taking the simple, obvious answer.
Instead, it posits the idea that “Hell” exists only in the mind. It is not the actuality of what’s before them that is Hell, but the piece of it that will forever reside within their minds. In this way, they are forever in Hell and can only escape through insanity or death.
Passing through the enemy security checkpoint, the squad continues on with their mission: the capture of an American who’s been assisting the country’s dictator in cleansing the country of undesirables. Yet, the mission is a failure from the start: The target is long gone, leaving only the dictator behind.
One of the American soldiers, Clavis Shepherd, interrogates the dictator at gunpoint. Faced with his own mortality, the dictator wonders in a panic how it all came to this–how his peaceful, multi-ethnic country became the genocidal wasteland outside his window.
He searches his memory for the one misstep that led to all this, and can’t find it. It likely doesn’t exist. It is a testament to how little evils done in the name of a noble goal can lead to atrocities. It all seems so logical step-by-step. But now, at the end, it’s impossible to tell how it all went so wrong.
But like the dictator, the American soldiers are likewise just another piece in the puzzle, and it is at the close of this scene that we learn the truth behind the special ops team: For all rights and purposes, they are super soldiers. Drugged to the point of emotional death, they feel no horror at what they’ve seen or who they’ve killed. The mission is all that matters for no other reason than that it is the mission. And anyone interfering in the success of that mission is killed without a second thought, even if that person is a current comrade.
Rather than men, rather than soldiers for a noble cause, they are simply a tool in the endless wars across the global society that has become a “Genocidal Organ.”
Genocidal Organ will be released in Japanese theaters on February 3, 2017. It has been licensed for international release by FUNimation.
Image Copyright © ©Project Itoh / GENOCIDAL ORGAN