Disclaimer: Contains mild spoilers. Proceed at your own risk.
Produced by: Toei Animation, Nitroplus, Aniplex, Graphinica
Genres: Action, Mecha, Science Fiction, Comedy
Length: 103 minutes
“DEVA”. A cyber universe that was built for the digitized minds of humans following the “Nano Hazard” incident that left the Earth in ruin. Those of humanity whom were willing to abandon their bodies were moved to this digitized environment to “survive”. Fast forward to A.D. 2400. Unauthorized access of the DEVA’s mainframe was detected by the central council. The hacker whom referred to themselves as “Frontier Settler”, were traced back to humanity’s former home, Earth.
From left: Angela Balzac, Zarik Kajiwara
Overall Rating: 4/5 moons
Story – 8/10
At first I braced myself for a dark-toned story since the screenplay was handled by none other than Gen Urobuchi, whom has written scripts for notable anime like Psycho-Pass, Fate Zero and even Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica.
Instead, I was greeted by a wonderful story that explored how humans, whom had lost their sense of ‘freedom’ after experiencing an Utopia first hand, came to learn about what is real and what is fake. Angela Balzac, whom was working for DEVA as a System Security Officer had never experienced Earth with her true senses. Instead she was implemented with memories of having experiencing it just like most residents that lived in DEVA would opt for. The fact that she was given the task to chase down the hacker known as Frontier Setter meant that this would be her first time on Earth.
Accompanying Angela as a guide on Earth is the shrewd and relaxed man, Zarik Kajiwara A.K.A Dingo. The first meeting between them wasn’t something I would exactly call ideal. [Minor spoiler alert!] Imagine someone coming to greet you with dozens of man-eating centipedes(?) behind him and expecting you to handle them for him. And after you’ve done all the heavy lifting for him, he is the one who earns extra money on the sideline for selling their meat. [Spoiler end] Definitely not the best way to make your first impression on someone!
Despite that ill-fated first impression between the two, the story had to move on. This is where I began to find the plot more interesting and intriguing. Being her first time experiencing in using a material body, Angela felt firsthand the need for daily necessities like food, water and even rest. Accustomed to living a digital life on DEVA, necessities were rather a sign of luxury and often seen as a waste of memory. Everything on Earth was a new experience to her; overexertion, sickness, and everything else that came with being a ‘human’ rather than just mere data.
On the other hand, Dingo whom was born and raised on the apocalyptic Earth was well versed on the how-to of survival. The fact that most of the dialogues between the two were mostly thought provoking and even efficient when it came to pushing the plot forward showed Gen Urobochi’s skills when it came to a well-flowed story. The discussions about DEVA, about the difference between DEVA and the real world, the dialogues that were about the freedom that someone could not experience in the so-called “paradise”. Each dialogue was about different things and were very attention-grabbing to watch.
Although, I would have liked if they expanded more on how the Nano Hazard came to be. The story itself was quite straightforward and nothing surprising happened throughout the whole movie, which was unlike the past works that Gen Urobochi had worked on previously. However, I still enjoyed the movie because of the talk about the difference in realism and what it meant to be human.
Character – 7/10
The main cast of Rakuden Tsuihou doesn’t expand much past Angela Balzac and Zarik Kajiwara. Although Frontier Setter is introduced later in the movie, I wouldn’t want to ruin the surprise for some people that haven’t watched the movie, so I will refrain myself.
Angela Balzac, who is voiced by Rie Kugimiya, can be seen as a tsundere. When I say tsundere, I don’t mean it in regards to romance, but rather her way of acknowledging someone else’s kindness. Being someone that had to live in a world where those who work get rewarded and those that don’t, don’t, she had always been a lone wolf. Her hard-headed personality and workaholic tendencies show themselves quite obviously in the movie.
[Minor spoiler alert!] To get the credit of completing the task of finding Frontier Setter before her other co-workers, she decided to prematurely hasten the development of her material body, leaving her with a 16 year old appearance rather than an adult’s. [Spoiler end] At first, she could be seen as a naive girl that had no knowledge about being a human was, but as the movie progressed, her character became more developed and she came to know how to be human; developing feelings, having a moral code and finally being able to acknowledge herself as ‘lacking’.
In regards to Zarik Kajiwara, not much was told about his past in the movie. However, this didn’t stop him from easily being one of the most easy-going characters that I have seen in awhile. He knows his way around, calmly calculating and being the relaxing person he is, playing the guitar is a must. As a man that had lived as a ‘human’ instead of a digitized one, he had a complete opposite view on what being free and alive is compared to our other main cast, Angela.
Dingo could be seen as the ‘wise-man’ of the movie. Being able to confidently say what is freedom to him and what are the values of being alive, makes him someone that I could proudly respect. But after all said and done, he had no character development throughout the movie. Being the relaxing man he is, I doubt he would mind. Did I forgot to mention that he is also voiced by Shinichiro Miki?
Also, the fact that there weren’t many side characters in the movie could be seen as both a disadvantage and an advantage. Developing a character requires time, and with the fact that only three characters was all that mattered in the movie, the lack of side characters allowed us to learn more about them.
Visual + Audio – 9.5/10
Rakuen Tsuihou: Expelled from Paradise is produced by Toei Animation and was done mostly in 3D CGI animation. It could be said that many people might be turned off by the usage of CGI in any anime series, but for me, it’s just another stage of evolution in anime. Some CGIs can even be so good that you wouldn’t even notice it unless someone told you about it. On the other hand, some are just so bad you could see it from miles away. Toei Animation however, has a surprisingly good 3D CGI team under their name.
Since the movie itself can be said to be fully made in CGI, as time passes when watching, the characters slowly blend in with the background and it felt natural. It might have been the fact that I had watched Knights of Sidonia before, but I had never really hated CGI in the first place anyway.
Overall, the visuals of this movie just blew me away. Vibrant colors combined with the fine usage of CGI animation just left me speechless. Round of applause to Toei Animation for being able to choreograph the whole action scene, not to mention animating it as well. The art was so clean that I couldn’t find a speck of dust on it. One could also say that this was CGI at its finest moments. Truthfully, I have to agree with that opinion since I got nothing to pick on about the visuals and animation in the movie. Aside from the rather bland character designs. It truly did just left me in awe.
If visuals are seen as the body, then the audio could only be seen as the blood coursing through it. The soundtrack of Expelled from Paradise was definitely one of the best that I had ever heard. Soundtracks are what sets the mood and tone in a series. Combining stunning visuals alongside soundtracks that completely harmonize the scene can easily multiply the excitement that is experienced. The soundtrack during the action scenes was just flat-out amazing and obviously nice to hear too. In fact, throughout the whole series, I never could say that I was truly bored. Especially not with all the soothing sounds in the background.
As a plus, throughout the movie, you can hear bit and pieces of a song being sung by Dingo. At first I was merely curious, but as it progressed, the song was stuck in my head and I couldn’t wait to hear the full song. When everything was said and done, the ending credits rolled and I was given a pleasant surprise. I knew that Elisa would be singing the ending theme of the movie but I just didn’t expected it to be this soothing.
Rakuen Tsuihou: Expelled from Paradise may not rival the other series by Gen Urobuchi, but it still managed to make me enjoy the interaction between the characters, which I think is one of the movie’s greatest attractions. The concept of the movie and the issues that are discussed are also plenty interested. On top of that, the audio and 3D CGI visuals are to die for. Even if you hate CGI, I would still recommend this movie to you.