The one thing that Vexille does well is create an interesting world. Japan has become a wasteland ruled by Jags, which are pretty cool creatures. Everyone in the country has been forced to become androids. They’re doomed to lose their minds and become slaves for DAIWA Heavy Industries, the evil company behind the country’s transformation. DAIWA has managed to keep their actions a secret from the rest of the world for the past ten years via high tech isolationism. And America is dependent upon the robots that DAIWA and its slaves produce.
But the most interesting aspect of the movie is one that’s talked about the least. Humans spend more time interacting with machines and their computers than they do each other. In a way, they’ve lost their humanity. Perhaps this is part of the reason why they’ve grown to hate machines. Meanwhile, the androids of Japan are more alive than the humans are. Of course, it’s pretty easy to make something livelily than business meetings and death. A bustling marketplace is infinitely more alive than Captain Borg furrowing his brow in a dark room.
Even though the characters don’t talk about their loss of humanity often, this theme is present in nearly every character, most especially the protagonist. Vexille’s character is largely a mystery to me in that she doesn’t act like any normal person would. The first thing we see her do is blow bubbles before a dangerous mission. This suggests that she’s a jokester, she doesn’t take her job seriously, or perhaps she’s relaxed. For the rest of the movie, however, she takes her job seriously, freaks out about everything, and yells at everyone. Perhaps I just can’t relate to yelling at the nearest person as soon as anything goes wrong, but even Vexille seems confused by her strange behavior, often dwindling off into awkward silence when she realizes what she’s been shouting about.
Her romantic relationship with Leon is also perplexing. Vexille’s major motivation for fighting DAIWA Heavy Industries is to rescue Leon from the company’s grasp. This suggests that Vexille loves him enough to risk her life for him. The movie, however, never shows Vexille giving him any affection. EVER.
In every scene with Vexille and Leon in it, she never touches him. On five occasions, Leon touches her. He jumps on her to protect her when a building explodes, he hugs her and apologizes when she shouts at him for no reason, he pulls her to safety to prevent her from doing something stupid, he touches her shoulder with concern after a helicopter explodes on top of her, and he holds her comfortingly after the genocide of the Japanese people. On all these occasions, Vexille doesn’t touch him back.
Sure, Vexille looks at him when his back is turned and they make eye contact, like, three times, but for god’s sake, film is a visual medium! And a look from Vexille could mean anything!
“I like that ass.”
“I like that knife.”
“God you’re ugly.”
By the end of the movie, Vexille’s indifference towards Leon reaches comical proportions. Vexille spends most of the movie obsessing over rescuing Leon. As soon as he’s freed though, she ceases to give a crap about him and goes running after the bad guy she just met. For all we know, Leon is already dead or he could be scarred from whatever he’s been through in the past few days or he could have minutes left to live. And Vexille just runs off!
She leaves him to Mariah, Leon’s previous lover, who was tragically separated from him years ago. Mariah is an android, technically less human than Vexille is, but she actually shows Leon some affection. As soon as Leon sees Vexille though, he casts Mariah aside and runs to her. Vexille hasn’t seen Leon for days and even thought he was dead. She has no idea what condition he’s in or what he’s been through. But the first thing she says to him is…
Vexille is more affected by the deaths of two androids she just met than she is by Leon’s presence.
And yes, I’m certain these people are supposed to be in a romantic relationship! One scene takes place in assumedly Vexille and Leon’s apartment. Here, we see both of them naked and in bed. When Vexille gets up, she seems to know where she is, which suggests that they didn’t get drunk the night before and do it on a whim. Even in this scene, we don’t see Vexille interacting with Leon though.
Leon blindly loves Vexille even though she gives him no reason to and Mariah acts more human than both of them by being appropriately shocked and hurt. Is this the product of genius script writing? As much as I’d like it to be, probably not for two reasons.
First, this theme isn’t applied consistently. For example, Vexille’s human friend Zak explodes right in front of her. This is a friend she ignored when he was obviously injured earlier in the movie. She responds to his death with the same level of emotion that she does for the deaths of her android friends. This suggests that she only really cares about people, not when they’re machines, but when they’re dead or when she wants them dead.
Second, the characters never strive to change their questionable actions and behaviors or even recognize them. If Vexille were a better movie, this probably wouldn’t be necessary. Vexille’s quirks, for example, could simply be an interesting detail, something to give her character an extra twist for those who notice it. The problem is that, for me at least, this loss of humanity is by far the most interesting aspect, and by not exploiting it, the film comes off like a B-horror movie. All the characters are assholes, and by the end, everyone is dead or mentally scarred.
If humans worked towards caring about others within the course of this movie, it could do loads for creating an emotional attachment between the audience and all these dead people. As it is, Vexille does most of the work in telling us how we should feel, and I don’t know about you, but I can’t understand her, let alone feel her pain. Imagine if in the short time Leon and Mariah spend together, Leon recognizes what he’s missing in his relationship with Vexille and remembers the love he had for Mariah. Imagine if Vexille was more affected by Zak’s death and realized she should cherish her time with Leon. Imagine if Vexille’s experience with the androids inspired her to become more human. Mariah’s death might affect the audience. Vexille’s reunion with Leon might be rewarding. The extermination of the Japanese race might mean something.
And Vexille’s interesting world might have more than dead characters in it. Talk at you next time.