After a powerful disaster left Earth in ruins, most of the remaining humans chose to abandon their physical bodies and upload their digitalized minds into the Matrix-like virtual system DEVA. While data-humans are quite content with their virtual lives, their DNA is preserved in a space station that orbits a post-apocalyptic Earth. With problems of aging, disease and hunger conquered, these cyber citizens enjoy their digital paradise, dependent on the amount of memory they possess. For instance, basic low memory minds are limited to spending their time at the overpacked resorts. Those who serve the system right are granted more memory, while those who fail to contribute get their human personality compressed and archived to save the memory for others. The whole cyber universe is run by the mysterious Administrators who are presented as powerful gods and religious icons.
Many years after a Nano Hazard rendered much of the Earth a wasteland, some real humans made of flesh and blood still inhabit the bleak and arid deserts that are littered with crumbling ruins. The barren surface of the Earth is infested by giant carnivorous sandworms who tunnel through dirt and sand, being halted only by rocky terrain. All contact with DEVA is made through the trusted local agents. The creators of this anime should be praised for the attention to background details, sucking the audience into the gloomy atmosphere of our not-to-distant future. All is done with a heavy emphasis on steampunk, with characters using old guns and roaming the bleak landscape in search of scrap metal and sandworm meat.
A.D. 2400, someone named Frontier Setter sends messages from Earth into the digital realm imploring the pampered denizens to leave their meaningless lives and join him in the interstellar flight to explore the solar system and beyond. The incidents of unauthorized access are quite harmless, but DEVA’s central council labels the unknown hacker a dangerous enemy and dispatches one of its top agents, Angela Balzac, to delve into the intruder’s motives. Since Angela was uploaded into the virtual reality as an infant and grew up within DEVA, she is placed into a clone body and sent to Earth supported by the super-combat robot called Arhan. Upon arriving, she meets a local agent Dingo who strikes her as an easy-going person with a pragmatic approach to living. As the story goes on, Angela discovers unpleasant truths about the familiar universe of DEVA and unexpected things about what it is like being human.
Why Is Expelled from Paradise So Cool?
The Idea of Living in Matrix
The simulation hypothesis that we all live in a digitalized reality controlled by machines has been a central plot device in various sci-fi stories and movies. In the 1999 sci-fi film, The Matrix, the main protagonist Neo is stunned to find out that his consciousness is embedded in the Matrix, a virtual-reality world. The ideas used in Expelled from Paradise, the approach, the polish of it all, obviously have the same origins. What if our everyday life is just a simulation generated by all-powerful Administrators who are merely computer programs? What if actually we are all just plugged into a computer network with our physical bodies stored somewhere in a space station? After Angela takes the red pill, she discovers how utopian the DEVA’s paradise is.
When you get past all the ideas this particular anime explores, it is easy to see where they all came from. Expelled from the Paradise is created by Gen Urobuchi whose major works like Psycho Pass and Mahou Shoujo Madoka☆Magica are packed with sci-fi ideas. He does not write classical stories about clashes of good and evil, but about clashes of different views and ideologies. Some of his philosophical themes, such as the deconstruction of utilitarianism, are also present in the movie. Those who like films exploring the modern problems arising from using new technologies are definitely recommended to check it out.
Expelled from Paradise’s animation is hit and miss. It is a good example of how far new CG technology has come. The entire movie is rendered in 3D polygons but manages to look similar to traditional hand-drawn anime. While most mecha battles are perfectly done with 3D models, it is still easy to see whether characters were animated this way. On the other hand, making fights with traditional two-dimensional art would be impractical if not impossible. Following the trend first introduced to the public in cartoons like Short Peace and Freedom, Expelled from the Paradise has perfectly applied the latest digital techniques to a traditional approach. Needless to say, the enduring organic charm of the traditional animation is evident throughout the whole anime. As for the mecha battles, they look simply amazing and well-choreographed thus proving that 3D style of Japanese animators is clearly improving all the time.
The meat of the movie comes from the characters. Their conversations are surprisingly deep, involving the values and detriments of a capitalist society. Growing up in a strict meritocracy, Angela Balzac praises virtual society because it gives data-humans a great opportunity to devote themselves to intellectual pursuits. She is fiercely motivated and goal-oriented to climb the social hierarchy as she considers it the only one way to become happy. She trusts DEVA and relies entirely on a computerized system that usually warns her in case of serious issues. In other words, Angela Balzac is the perfect citizen of the so-called Paradise.
On the other hand, Dingo is all about the personal freedom and independence. Unlike Angela, he cannot stand playing by society’s rules and appreciates a more laid-back lifestyle. He hates the idea that citizens over DEVA are still rated by their performance and praised in the form of a more allocated memory space. Therefore, the interaction between Angela and Dingo gradually becomes a discussion about the society and individuals. The contrast between their philosophy arises the hard-hitting questions about the direction humanity should be going in, but it never feels boring, as some sci-fi movies so often do.
Music is one of Expelled from the Paradise’s strongest points .The theme soundtrack entitled ‘Eonian’ by Italian singer Elisa Toffoli is reprised in several different incarnations in order to express the different moods and ideas throughout the anime. This music is deeply connected to the movie’s content and never ceases to amaze the audience. For instance, in the action scenes, it is heavy and floor shaking, thick with pounding and robotic artillery sounds, while in the other more peaceful scenes, it features light, uplifting pieces that lend the anime much of its surprising cuddliness.
The premise and the characters of Expelled from Paradise heavily resemble the Ghost in the Shell. They both feature sci-fi concepts, the way the virtual world changes human consciousness and question the border between the physical world and virtual reality. Both movies tell a story about a future in which society is dominated by a computer program that feels itself qualified to controlling humans in an attempt to achieve its ultimate goals. The audience is engaged to think critically and explore what humanity means for all of us that are deeply intertwined with computer reality. The characters are surprisingly deep and are a refreshing change to the familiar stereotypes bad, good, innocent and evil. Female protagonists Angela Balzac and Kusanagi Motoko do not possess their physical bodies and are shown topless within the first ten minutes of movies.
Although Ghost in the Shell is much older, both movies boast incredible attention to detail and beautiful imagery. The colors are just right, and the characters’ movements are so real it can be scary. The quality of the graphics surpasses expectations and the soundtrack is simply amazing.
Both movies are set some time in the distant future, when the Earth has become so uninhabitable because of a huge disaster that human beings are forced to escape into an utopian paradise. In the case of Ergo Proxy, it is a massive domed city called Rondo controlled by powerful gods trapped in statues. This "Paradise" society is also almost entirely cut off from the barren wasteland still inhabited by inhuman outcasts and vagabonds. Both female protagonists are portrayed as supervisors that have being thrown out into the real world on an important mission to find somebody capable to ruin the established system.
Creators of Ergo Proxy and Expelled from Paradise took the dysfunctional utopia idea and managed to shed a new light on it, revealing a new perspective on society, purpose of human existence and illusion of paradise-like systems. Although the animation style is very different, both anime mix computer-generated imagery and special effects with 2D cell animation.
Both stories are set in a synthetic place inhabited by mankind that abandoned Earth after a vicious natural disaster wiped it out. Conflicts come from the outside as characters in the universe of Suisei no Gargantia are threatened by invading alien creatures, and citizens of DEVA are shaken by anonymous messages sent by a mysterious hacker on Earth. In addition, the basic plots are surprisingly similar: people from another, yet more advanced culture are forced into a situation where they have to communicate with the barbarian natives from a different land. Contrary to the expectations, they stumble upon the different values and discover that they are unsuited for life on Earth. As the story goes on, supposedly superior foreigners come to understand the true qualities of the natives and overcome personal prejudices. When a conflict arises, only "strangers in a strange land" are there to protect the natives from their own colleagues.
Of course, the settings, storytelling purposes and characters are all quite different, but it is not too difficult to recognize the key ideas of Gen Urobuchi who has written both storylines. That idea of choice that makes us human is the fundamental theme often featured in Urobuchi’s works.
Terra e… and Expelled from Paradise have many similarities. For instance, the plot: after humans abandoned a ruined Earth, they voluntary submitted themselves to a computer program that uses digital technology to regulate society, under strict laws. People live in a society that has given up individuality and freedom of thought for their safety and prosperity. Earth is now nothing but a wasteland, unfit for life, however, it is described as a promised land and a cradle for mankind. Despite significant differences in settings and storytelling, both movies are good sci-fi dramas infused with a lot of action. The animation is great, and the soundtrack works well with the overall atmosphere throughout the anime.