Genocidal Organ was originally the second chapter of Project Itoh, a plan to adapt three novels by late novelist Keikaku Itoh into anime films. Things went awry when Manglobe, the studio producing Genocidal Organ, filed for bankruptcy. Now, after rescheduling and the formation of an entirely new animation studio, things are back on track.
Anime Now! got a chance to sit down with Genocidal Organ’s producer, Koji Yamamoto, to talk about the path to completing the movie after what happened as well as the movie itself.
One of the biggest questions on most people’s minds when news of Manglobe’s bankruptcy broke last year was just how far along in production they were with Genocidal Organ. Apparently, this was a question that Yamamoto himself encountered a lot as well. “I get asked that a lot in Japan too,” Yamamoto noted. “After [Manglobe] went bankrupt, I got asked that during legal proceedings as well. It was one month before [the originally scheduled] release, so you could say it was about 60% complete, but to be honest, you could also say it was only about 30% done.”
With the production of Genocidal Organ left hanging, Yamamoto was in a bind. The eventual solution was for him to start up his own production company, Geno Studio, and pick up where Manglobe left off. Some might wonder why they didn’t hire from among the myriad studios that must have lined up to take on the project, but it turns out that the situation wasn’t that optimistic.
“Actually, no studio volunteered,” Yamamoto revealed. “Manglobe already–we didn’t know if it was going to go bankrupt at the time–was behind in production, so we were talking about getting other studios to pitch in. But even the studio with the most substantial history and production power in Japan would only agree to work on the project if a) everything went back to the drawing board, and b) they were paid the original production cost, so they were very uncooperative. Taking something on mid-production is extremely difficult, so nobody would help.”
According to Yamamoto, while some of the original staff from Manglobe came over to continue to work on Genocidal Organ at the new Geno Studio, about half of the main staff and over half of the freelance animators were switched out as a result. Asked what the biggest challenge was in creating a new studio from scratch for the purpose of completing the project, Yamamoto’s answer was quite realistic. “Well, for starters, it was a huge loss, financially.”
Currently, according to Yamamoto, Geno Studio already has two projects lined up for after Genocidal Organ is completed, one of which is a TV series, so hopefully it will turn out to be a worthwhile endeavor in the end.
Genocidal Organ is the story of a future where an act of nuclear terrorism has turned the world into a very dark place. First-world countries have enacted a position of managing personal information in order to fight the threat of terrorism while less-developed countries have become hotbeds of civil war and genocide.
In order to handle such situations, America establishes an intelligence army to gather information on less-developed countries and to assassinate war criminals. The plot revolves around the character of Clavis Shepherd, who has been ordered to assassinate John Paul, a man who is supposedly behind several acts of genocide.
Asked for details on the upcoming movie, Yamamoto revealed some of its inner workings. Apparently, the movie will be more of a spy movie compared to the source material, with the setting taking place in the near future. Said Yamamoto, “We do have a specific setting. John Paul loses his family in Sarajevo in an explosion in, I think, the year 2018. So it’s the very near future.”
The previous two movies based on the works of novelist Keikaku Itoh, Harmony and Empire of Corpses both had strong themes at their base. Harmony focused on the concepts of free will and selfishness while Empire of Corpses was about consciousness.
Asked what the theme of Genocidal Organ is, Yamamoto replied, “The common theme is probably ‘consciousness.'” Yamamoto clarified, saying, “[In the film] there’s the line, ‘is your intent to kill really your own?’ I think [the theme is] in there. Harmony was also about freeing one’s consciousness, but I think [Genocidal Organ] talks of taking responsibility for your consciousness […] It’s about consciousness. Being self-aware.”
As for a message the movie conveys to its audience, Yamamoto offered a very fluid interpretation. “In the grand scheme, I think all the pieces carry the late Keikaku Itoh’s predictions of the future. As a visual medium, we’ve made them in such a way as to hand the answer over to the viewer. As a message, I think that’s it: It asks the viewer to interpret it as they will.”
In regards to rumors that there might be a Hollywood version, Yamamoto spoke of the production, saying, “I think the problems will be the same. Basically, how to fit the whole thing into two hours, because the theme is pretty complicated, or how to portray the character of Clavis Shepherd, whether to make it easy to understand or difficult. I’d be interested in seeing how someone might do it. I think adapting Genocidal Organ is really hard.”
Yamamoto said in closing, “Japanese animation has really become popular across the world, so I hope people continue to support us.”
Genocidal Organ is scheduled for release in theaters in Japan on February 3rd, 2017. Funimation has licensed it for international release.
Image Copyright © © Project Itoh/GENOCIDAL ORGAN