Expelled From Paradise is a 3DCG anime film, produced as a joint project between Toei and Nitroplus. You’ll all be familiar with Toei, from popular series such as Dragon Ball, One Piece, Digimon, and Sailor Moon. However, you’ll probably know Nitroplus from such games as Steins;Gate, Nitroplus Blasterz: Heroines Infinite Duel, and SoniComi. The screenplay was written by Gen Urobuchi, who currently works at Nitroplus, and was responsible for some well-known productions, including Puella Magi Madoka Magica, Psycho-Pass, Fate/Zero. He is also the original creator of Aldnoah.Zero, and wrote the scripts for three of its better episodes. The director is Seiji Mizushima, who has previously directed Fullmetal Alchemist, Fullmetal Alchemist: Conqueror of Shamballa, Un-Go, and Mobile Suit Gundam 00 The Movie, amongst others. In the past, I’ve often ignored anime entirely if they make too much use of 3DCG, but this time, the synopsis had me interested enough to give it a chance to really impress me.
“With Earth now left in ruins following the “Nano Hazard”, most of humanity has abandoned the planet they once called home along with their physical bodies and rebuilt their digitalized minds into a society within the cyber universe of “DEVA”. A.D. 2400, DEVA’s central council detects an incident of unauthorized access into their mainframe. Someone on Earth was trying to hack into the system. The only information DEVA was able to retrieve was that the hacker referred to himself as “Frontier Setter”. To investigate the mysterious hacker’s motives, the high officials of DEVA dispatch System Security Third Officer Angela Balzak to the Earth’s surface. Equipped with a prosthetic “material body”, Angela attempts to make contact with a local agent Dingo, but what awaited her instead was a swarm of Sandworms now infesting the Earth’s surface. Angela intercepts the gruesome pests with her exoskeletal powered suit Arhan. Will Angela and Dingo be able to find Frontier Setter on this devastated planet? Their journey to explore the secrets of the world begins now…!” – All The Anime
I don’t even know where to begin; it’s clear they set out to ease us into 3DCG anime with this film, with characters especially looking very similar to the 2D anime we all live for. It took a few minutes for me to get used to the 3D characters at the start of the film, but once the story got going, I was completely hooked, both by visual splendour I did not think was possible with 3DCG, and voicework from a magnificent cast. While the 3DCG doesn’t quite manage to replicate what we’re familiar with from 2D anime, it comes incredibly close and is, quite simply, beautiful. The animation is able to show much finer movement of character models than tends to be seen in 2D anime and can take some getting used to.
The Japanese cast did an excellent job bringing this movie to life; I’ll admit, I didn’t try the English dub – I saw the name Johnny Yong Bosch and decided not to tarnish my opinion of a movie I was really enjoying. The surround sound mix makes good use of the additional channels, especially so during a large scale battle late in the movie. Angela’s VA, Rie Kugiyama (Fullmetal Alchemist‘s Alphonse Elric, Fairy Tail‘s Happy, Toradora!‘s Taiga), is excellent and really manages to emphasise her struggle in deciding what is right. The VA for Dingo, Shinichiro Miki, (Pokémon‘s Kojirou, Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood‘s Roy Mustang), effectively portrays someone wise yet weathered by the years on a desolate wasteland. Hiroshi Kamiya’s (Durarara!!‘s Izaya Orihara, Noragami‘s Yato, Miss Monochrome’s Ruu-chan) voicework for Frontier Setter may be the most impressive, breathing life into a character that is merely an artificial intelligence, and making you hope for his happiness.
Expelled From Paradise poses the question of what it means to truly be human, and by the conclusion, it could be argued that Frontier Setter, a sentient AI, is more human than a lot of the humans on DEVA. It’s clear that this is a very difficult subject matter to approach, but I love how Expelled From Paradise dealt with it, and how it made me care about an artificial intelligence, possibly even more than the main human characters.
In terms of on-disc extras, we are treated to teasers for the movie, and a decent length making-of featurette, which is actually subbed and in HD; this is a pleasant surprise to see included. The collector’s edition also includes a 40-page booklet and art cards. I am still shocked that I managed to enjoy a 3DCG anime as much as I did Expelled From Paradise. 3DCG still isn’t quite as impressive as 2D animation, but it has proven to me that it can come pretty close, and can allow creators to deliver an incredible story. I may have the review copy, but this is a title I’m going to need to pick up the collector’s edition of when I get chance. The only thing keeping me from giving this a 100% is that I’m not used to 3DCG anime as an art form quite yet – ask me again in a couple years, and I might be ready to upgrade this score.
I am still shocked that I managed to enjoy a 3DCG anime as much as I did Expelled From Paradise. 3DCG still isn't quite as impressive as 2D animation, but it has proven to me that it can come pretty close, and can allow creators to deliver an incredible story. I'd been looking forward to giving this anime a try since I heard about it shortly after the Japanese theatrical release, and I'm overjoyed All The Anime brought this title to the UK. Set aside your preconceptions about 3DCG, and let the beatiful story told here into your life.