Vexille (2007) Reviews Online.
To start off with: Thanks Michael for letting me see the obvious benefits of a Blu-Ray anime release, particularly for a solely CGI rendered movie. This release for Vexille is stunning on both visual and audio fronts. To make this point further, I took the opportunity to compare a detailed Blu-Ray sequence at the beginning compared to the DVD version I already had. I already thought the DVD version was amazing to watch visually (then again I last saw it on a 21″ CRT TV). The DVD version (native 576i resolution) was upscaled to 1080p for playback on the 46″ LCD/LED screen through HDMI. The improvements in visual detail were obvious with the fiery explosion rendered so much more clearly on the Blu-Ray release (native 1080p resolution) — and this was even more apparent with an identical still frame shot between the Blu-Ray and DVD versions. Then again, that was the whole purpose of Blu-Ray: to provide greater visual detail for high definition (Full HD) screens. Now that I’ve got the eye-opening bit out of the way, on with the review proper.
Vexille is actually a very good story that looks at the notions of human drug experimentation; cybernetics and evolution; cultural isolation; and holding a personal identity in a world of conformity. In this story, Japan has isolated itself from the rest of the world to progress cybernetic experimentation contrary to UN resolutions. Ten years later, a special agency seeks to infiltrate Japan to find out what has been going on after allegations of activities in breach of international law. The story itself is full of little ironies that you have to keep your eyes peeled for, and I’d spoil a lot of the story if I revealed any here. The story also makes references to other classic sci-fi stories: the most obvious being Dune for the wasteland sequences. All in all, you will have a good time with this one if you like sci-fi with a good focus on a small and likeable cast.
Visually, there is nothing to complain about here. The movie is shown in 16:9 widescreen and, as I said earlier, looks stunning. Produced by the same people who brought us Appleseed (the 2004 version) and Appleseed: Ex Machina, you will see many similarities in character design and rendering. Character designs are sharply rendered and look nice. Vexille, the main female lead, looks pleasant enough with a tough-looking yet emotive face that goes through the full range. Other characters are less so, but that is often due to the opportunities presented. Other character designs are, well, stereotypical with the exuberant kid, the haunted and lonely woman, the tough bad guy with a bald head. What also stands out in my view is the rendering of settings and non-human creatures: the Jags look absolutely menacing yet are incredibly detailed. Lighting effects such as sunsets are also well-rendered with plenty of detail and highlights showing off the characters.
Audio comes with a decent Dolby TrueHD 5.1 mix for both English and Japanese tracks. I listened to the original Japanese track and there was plenty of directionality of sound across all channels. Spot checks were done on the English track and, again, there was a good sense of direction with sound effects across all channels. Stuff that exploded and flew over the screen in front of you transferred to the rear channels for an immersive environment.
Extras on the disc included documentaries about making Vexille, interviews with the cast and director, Japanese promo spots, and trailers for other Funimation films. The disc is released as Blu-Ray Regions A (US/Canada/Japan/Singapore) and B (UK/Australia/New Zealand/Western Europe) and is PS3 compatible.
In short, I really enjoyed this release. I enjoyed the original DVD release when it came out almost 18 months ago, and the step-up in video and audio for a high-definition presentation makes it a definite recommendation if you’re wanting something that stands out on your HD setup. Importantly, the story and characters are also good so it isn’t just there for eye- and ear-candy.