Expelled from Paradise is a 2014 science fiction anime film that was developed as a joint cinematic project by Toei Animation and Nitroplus. The film was directed by Seiji Mizushima, who is known for directing famous anime series such as Fullmetal Alchemist and Mobile Suit Gundam 00, with scripts from Gen Urobuchi, famous for writing Puella Magi Madoka Magica and Fate/Zero.
In the distant future, humanity has evolved past the use of physical bodies and uploaded their consciences to a virtual reality network called DEVA. The remaining two percent of humans struggle on Earth, where agent Angela Balzac is tracking down a hacker known as Frontier Setter. She teams up with Dingo – a contract escort – who helps her on her mission. Together, they roam the desolate Earth to find Frontier Setter and investigate his true motives.
Plot and Story
I went in to Expelled From Paradise with very low expectations as a 3D CG anime science fiction film. I expected bland, sci-fi action cliches with forgettable mech fights and awkward CGI. What I got instead was a great film with thoughtful concepts and just enough action to keep me entertained.
The film’s title takes its inspiration from Angela’s quote about Adam and Eve leaving the Garden of Eden – a theme resonating with what the film explores. At its core, Expelled From Paradise examines the concept of human freedom. What does it mean to truly live and is struggle proof that you’re a fallible human? The screenplay by Gen Urobuchi (known for exploring such themes in works like Psycho Pass and Gargantia on the Verdurous Planet) tries to answer these questions by pairing up Angela and Dingo – two distinct personalities who manage to learn from each of their own experiences. Their relationship often leads to quick-witted, clever banter, but highlights a conflict between living a higher plane of existence and choosing to work hard on the surface.
The higher ups of DEVA are portrayed as the prime antagonists, and they, along with the majority of humanity, reside in this digital utopia where everything is perfect. All senses and memories are archived and expanded beyond human recognition. Physical bodies are abandoned, knowledge is infinite, and experience is based on analytics. As a special agent of DEVA, Angela tries to prove herself by capturing Frontier Setter in the hopes that she is promoted up the ranks. At first, she’s a stubborn, by-the-books person who sticks to what she knows by letting her online equipment do all the work. In the end, she moves past such things and learns to live life in a physical form.
Angela’s interactions with Frontier Setter become interesting as the story progresses. In relation to his name, Frontier Setter’s goal is to find a way for humanity to further its limits by exploring what lies beyond the galaxy. His hacking into DEVA, while done with good intentions, makes him a targeted threat by the higher ups. After learning of Frontier Setter’s true motives, Angela realizes that she has to think for herself and resists everything she stood for, gaining back her independence in the process.
The backbone of Expelled From Paradise is definitely its middle act. Although the beginning and ending of the film certainly have their loud action packed mech fights, the story in between really highlights the development of Angela and Dingo’s close relationship and how they perceive living life on Earth as opposed to a false utopia.
There’s one memorable line from Dingo that I really connect with. In this one scene, he tells Angela that he doesn’t want to live in a paradise if it means becoming a slave. In this case, his ability to choose and enact his free will is better than having everything predetermined for him. Out of Urobuchi’s written works, I think Expelled From Paradise is definitely one of the more optimistic ones and is a great science fiction film that has more to offer than you’d expect.
Expelled From Paradise
Japanese Title: Rakuen Tsuihō
Director: Seiji Mizushima
Screenplay: Gen Urobuch
Produced by Toei Animation