Japanese anime feature takes Anne-Marie Marquess into a disturbing robotic future

The Irish Premiere of Anime animation Vexille was unleashed recently, as part of The Belfast Film Festival.  And, as far as sci-fi futures go, the world that Vexille finds herself in isn’t one you would wish for. 

Vexille and her colleagues are working for security agency SWORD in a world where Japan has refused to obey UN guidelines and has had an isolation policy for ten years, sealing itself off from the rest of the world using an electromagnetic field.

If you thought Terminator or I-Robot were disturbing, you’ll already know that the darker side of robot technology isn't pleasant. 

Finely tuned killing machines, the hunks of metal in Vexille have no mercy. The likes of R2D2 and the cuddly paranoid android Marvin from The Hitchiker's Guide to the Galaxy wouldn’t stand a chance against the robots that inhabit director Fumihiko Sori's animated world. 

The SWORD agents are out to infiltrate Japan and find out what’s going on, discovering the threat to humankind posed by android technology. 

Vexille teams up with Japanese resistance leader Maria, a pairing that results in fast action and reveals an unsettling plot.

Robot killing machines, hi-tech humans and state-of-the-art robotic gear are just the beginning, but what is to come is far more disturbing.

The Japanese government artificially creates a virus that causes a fever. People in their masses are forced to get injected with a so-called anti virus.

Instead the injection contains a robotic strain of biometal that infiltrates human cells, causing them to become metal. This is a gradual process, culminating in a possession where the eyes turn black and the robot takes over.

Ultimate control, ultimate power, immortality, devoid of emotion, balanced: the creator thinks human robots are a perfect specimen.Vexille and her underground crew want to return the world to normality and prevent this phenomenon spreading to other countries.

Brought to us by the same team that created Appleseed, the visual effects in Vexille are amazing, with spectacular animation and advanced photorealism. There is crisp, clear anime precision and the characters look superb.

The premise of androids, cyborgs and robotic suits and limbs isn’t a new one. We've had the Bionic ManIron Man, and the scary androids in Westworld. Yet Vexille still raises serious questions and highlights the threat advanced robot technology poses to mankind. 

In Vexille, the year is 2077 AD. Seems light years away, yet by the time we get there, robots will have a much more significant presence. Cyborg soldiers are already in development with serious money being pumped into their construction and America is fine tuning robotic suits for military personnel, giving them superhuman abilities.

When you leave the cinema and look around to see real human beings - not androids or cyborgs - it's a major relief. Let's hope the events described in Vexille never come to pass. Though judging by the millions being invested in this area, perhaps it's just a question of time.