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Syntax Terror – Project Itoh: Genocidal Organ – Humble Opinions

…and nothing but his truth

Language is an intriguing concept. Be it the divergence at Babel, or the allowance of internet slang into the dictionary, there is always something to talk about. Yet, irony aside, language is more often than not a means to a different end. To discuss a myriad of topics unrelated and yet only pursuable by the existence of language. It need not even be a complex issue, some moron could prattle on and wax pseudo-philosophical about an animated feature film. Language would even allow said fool to reference themselves in a confusing self-referential tangent that will most certainly end abruptly and in an unfulfilling way.

What it means to be human is an incredibly complex and nigh indecipherable question that has plagued society since they first came up with the words to convey it, perhaps even earlier. To this day, intellectuals debate the nature (and even existence) of human morality and the confines in which people live their day-to-day lives. Now, I don’t claim to be one of these intellectuals, but I have noticed a distinct pattern arise whenever philosophy rears its head: Humanity is terrible. I hate to say it, but according to those what with the brains, people are a tragically flawed existence that have managed to survive through a combination of sheer luck and the simple fact that it’s easier to survive in a group. Now, you may be thinking, “But all those movies tell me that love conquers all and that believing in goodness can make it so.” Of course, you’re right, but those movies have a tendency to desire a happy audience, true introspection, however, cares little for joy and would rather cram depressing, sobering facts down your throat until you choke on painful reality. Enter Genocidal Organ…

In a future not too distant from our own, civil war has erupted in countries the world over, escalating at an alarming rate and resulting in unprecedented acts of genocide. With international (mainly national) security in mind, a group of American super soldiers are assigned to these warring countries, with orders to assassinate the leaders and instigators of said atrocities. Normally, this would place these super soldiers in a position of heroism within our narrative, however, given the philosophical nature of this particular fictitious outing, their worth is just as in question as those who murder innocents by the truckload. More specifically, Clavis Shepherd serves as our window into the world of Genocidal Organ, his own internal musings and conflicts guiding the story ever onward in its search for answers. To avoid wandering aimlessly through the microcosm that is the human soul, however, the film is nice enough to provide us a more concrete goal: John Paul. Sewer of chaos and conductor of genocide, the villain of our story and the question to every question raised. Naturally, Clavis and John clash over the whole genocide situation and populate the film with exactly what you’d expect: Philosohpical debate.

Hell

Despite the plotline of war and justice, Genocidal Organ’s story serves as little more than a reason for its cast to wax philosophical and debate the very notions of existence that humanity takes for granted. Be warned, even a simple hamburger will become a source of guilt if you take this film to heart and pizza may trigger an inescapable nihilism that will make you question all you know. That being said, the time period of the film does separate it somewhat from present day reality, offering some level of disconnection, should you be concerned about your ability to eat food ever again. The synthetic flesh technology and mental conditioning that suffuse our main cast place them on a pedestal of non-existence, allowing us as an audience to relegate the issues raised as fiction, should we so choose, and simultaneously preventing character’s dialogue from being muddied by direct real world parallels. Sure they’re soldiers, but they are also emotionless super soldiers with tanks that possess muscle tissue. That being said, if you truly wanted an out when it came to the concepts raised in Genocidal Organ, you probably wouldn’t have decided to watch Genocidal Organ.

As a character, Clavis is both a Watson to John Paul’s Sherlock and a Sherlock to our Watson. Though he never comes across as one who has found his answer to life, he is always quick to rebut others who express their own. Both question and answer, Clavis’ increasing obsession with John Paul over the course of the film becomes almost childish in a certain light. Though he doesn’t believe in John Paul’s actions, he wishes to hear them spoken aloud. One could argue that this is to gain understanding, but Clavis’ own nature makes it seem as if he simply wants John Paul to speak so he can tear his reasoning apart. Yes, his increasingly frantic methodology is described by his desire to see Lucia, but his interactions with John Paul deviate just as far from his baseline training as those between him and Lucia. Perhaps he simply longs for another who shares his predilection for higher thinking, or the notion of one who questions the world is to intriguing for an order abiding soldier to ignore. The truth and issue with Genocidal Organ is that we’ll probably never know, because the answer to every why is simply: Yes.

Soldier: Off

To tie back to a previous paragraph opener, Clavis is not the only character to play Sherlock, rather, the entire cast does the same. In presenting a cast of varied opinions and beliefs, Genocidal Organ can feel very much like a film that is talking at its audience. Though the dialogue is naturally between the characters on screen, the informed emotionless state of a majority of the cast rather severely, if not entirely, removes personality from their words and leaves them a canvas on which the audience may paint themselves. Sure, Clavis Shepherd is a character and I may be reading too far into it, but he rather quickly ceased being anything but a mouthpiece for rhetoric, a ring I could throw my hat into to muse one side of an impossible argument, before collecting it and throwing it into the ring of another. The same is true for John Paul, Lucia and every other soldier, freedom fighter, citizen and politician who articulated a thought. Vessels through which to think, carried forth by situations in which to ponder, framed by issues in which to fathom. Lofty concepts rooted in the notion of violence that we know all to well, even if fictionalised. Confusing to be sure, but well in line with belief that philosophy is a question with no single answer, perhaps even with no answer at all. That being said, the film does gear towards the less optimistic side of the eternal debate, what with the murder and all.

Speaking of horrendous blood explosions and the systematic evisceration of the human form, Genocidal Organ is not a visually restrained film. Part and parcel with pondering what makes a human, the film frequently shows us exactly what makes a human, namely: Viscera. There’s just nothing like a good ol’ visual aid when it comes to learning, is there? After all, the human soul might not exist, but the skull definitely does and boy can it exist in quite a few places at once. What the film finds a touch more important than pesky bones however, is the rather important organ contained within the skull. Central to human thought, the brain is of course an integral piece of resolving the mysteries of humanity and extrapolating the key to existence found within. Not to anyone’s surprise, however, Genocidal Organ takes this study to a place of (hopefully) fictitious darkness.

In answer to the question you no doubt had when reading the title of this film, the genocidal organ appears to be located within the human brain. Vestigial and untapped, John Paul became able to manipulate the titular organ and, in turn, bring about the events of the film. As spoileriffic as that all may be, it is yet another means to an introspective end, namely: Does choice exist? And yes, it is as light hearted a topic as it sounds. With an argument based in language, the character of John Paul expresses the notion that current human behaviour is merely an extrapolation of survival. Segments of the brain are activated by words and the world in which one lives subconsciously alters their perception of said world. Syntax and cadence subtly manipulating those who listen, bending them out of the shape they believe they crafted themselves in, the mold in which they deign to fit. An interesting thought process and one that makes for a decidedly unique storyline, but in the hands of Genocidal Organ, it becomes yet another question posed both in-universe and out: How much of you is your world and how much of your world is you? Impossible to answer and thus filtered through a simpler example: How much of the world do you ignore in favour of keeping your world whole? Are you the type to ignore atrocities committed beyond your doorstep? Do you let the sadness of others impact you? Could you push your worldviews on another? Will you change to fit society? Will you despise a society in which you do not fit? Who are you? Why are you? A myriad of answerless questions, a ceaseless vortex of doubt and stability and fear and hope and madness and sanity and power and weakness and doldrums and excitement and rage and sadness and kindness and joy. All wrapped up in the neat little bow of sci-fi war.

A man of coup words

Genocidal Organ is a truly tiring experience. Though I cannot claim to be a seeker of introspection, it is an inescapable effect of dealing with this film. Or perhaps it isn’t. Perhaps this is mainly a film about fictional wars and the horror therein, with philosophy merely bolstering its plot. You are more than free to take it that way and I wish you all the best if you do. But, for me, Genocidal Organ is an existence merely designed to convey a message. What that message is still truly eludes me, but I have now have enough questions regarding humanity to last me through the next few millennia. As much as I wished to believe in the story of Clavis Shepherd, of the compassion he built for Lucia, of the muddled hatred for John Paul, I never came to see them as anything more than means to an end. A confusing, philosophical end that has me creating complex, redundant paragraphs that barely touch upon the film itself. Still, if this experience has taught me anything, it’s that life is a ridiculous conglomeration of moving parts that not even a madman could understand and even if my opinions are way off base, I’m still well within the metaphysical ballpark. I think, therefore I am…confused.

Evolution could not a Genocidal Organ erase

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