Project Itoh

Project Itoh – Humanity’s Fate in three stories by this great writer

Few authors in Japanese science fiction literature have left such a deep and lasting impression as Satoshi Itō, better known as “Project Itoh“.

His works, steeped in dystopian mystique and deep philosophical reflection, have captured the imagination of readers worldwide, and they have reached supreme ecstasy through the cinematic adaptations of his novels.

With a writing style that stands out for its narrative complexity and engaging prose, Project Itoh has been able to paint dystopian worlds that are as realistic as they are disturbing.

His novels deal adventurously and excitingly with sensitive, crucial issues such as social control, the implications of technology on human society, and the moral challenges we face in pursuing progress at all costs.

But what makes Itoh’s works genuinely extraordinary is his ability to develop his characters psychologically and emotionally, exploring the complex intertwining of the human soul and the urban and political environment, bringing to life protagonists who struggle with ethical dilemmas, inner conflicts, and can never escape the consequences of their actions.

In addition, Project Itoh’s influence extends beyond literature and film, inspiring a new generation of artists and authors, including renowned video game creator Hideo Kojima.

Itoh’s approach to dystopian fiction and themes often echoes in Kojima’s video games, always creating controversy between those who love and hate these stories, as was the famous “Metal Gear” saga or the more recent dystopian future of “Death Stranding.”

In this article, we will explore Project Itoh’s dreams and nightmares through three excellent animated films based on his novels and three seminal works of modern science fiction that continue to make the hearts of readers and viewers worldwide beat faster.

Harmony (2015)

Harmony 2015 movie

Let’s begin with an all-female sci-fi adventure between three young friends: Tuan, Cian, and the charming and disturbed Miach Mihie.

Miach is undoubtedly the most robust personality, coming back from a horrible past as a survivor of prison camps in central Europe and later finding a new life with an adoptive family in Japan.

However, she resents the control of the centralized system that monitors every public and private aspect of the population, seeing it as another kind of gilded, smiling imprisonment.

Depression reaches the point of suicide, trying to convince her friends and swallow pills to be permanently free, but fortunately, they fail to go through with it as Miach did.

Thirteen years later, the two survivors meet again, just as Tuan, who has become a secret agent, returns from a complicated mission abroad.

Just as they are lovingly eating together at the restaurant, recalling the painful memory of their dear Miach, Cian suddenly grabs a knife and cuts her throat in front of her friend.

At that point, Tuan begins to investigate the suicide, partly because Cian was not the only one, but rather, throughout the country, thousands of people have unexpectedly and simultaneously killed themselves.

As her mission takes her farther and farther away from home, the voice of Miach’s ghost grows louder and louder, until it instills doubt in Tuan’s mind that her old friend may never really have died.

Directors Michael Arias and Takashi Nakamura bring Project Itoh’s most elegant novel to the screen, with young protagonists in the sexy teenage style typical of manga but a mature dramatic soul that sinks its nails into the black heart of the human race.

In short, it is a total and absolute masterpiece to cherish and idoliz forever and ever.

The Empire of Corpses (2017)

The Empire of Corpses 2017 movie

The second movie has a decidedly different setting, standing as a sequel to Mary Shelley’s immortal Frankenstein, the first prototype of modern science fiction literature.

Taking place in the mid-1800s, in this other dystopian past, the creature of scientist Victor Frankenstein is only the first (not coincidentally called “The One“) of a new reality where raising the dead is commonplace.

Unfortunately, even if you can revive corpses, you cannot give them a soul, so they are trained through computers and punch cards to do any task and work, whether civilian or, of course, even in the military.

The protagonist of this story is young medical graduate student John Watson, a talented researcher who caused a scandal when he resurrected the corpse of his friend and colleague Friday.

Instead of arresting him, British government pairs him with intelligence Captain Frederick Burnaby for a mission in Afghanistan: to find Frankenstein’s original diary, to finally succeed in creating corpses with souls like The One.

In the midst of war and terrorist attacks, Burnaby, Watson, and his trusty Friday will have to fight their way through truths and lies to come face to face with The One, who is also in search of the diary to resurrect the beloved bride his creator denied him so many years earlier.

We credit director Ryoutarou Makihara, who succeeds in the not-so-easy task of “wringing” Project Itoh’s immense novel into just over two hours of high emotional and narrative tension.

Empire of Corpses is not only horror/fantasy fiction but a summary of the ruthless morality in modern politics, where everything has a price and is for sale, including people’s lives and deaths.

In short, we are talking about another pillar of science fiction and animation, a masterpiece that every true cinephile should proudly display in their collection.

Genocidal Organ (2015)

Genocidal Organ 2015 movie

With today’s third and final movie, we return to the work of Project Itoh, who most influenced his friend Kojima in making Metal Gear Solid, particularly one of the best chapters in the saga and an absolute staple of the video game world, Peace Walker.

Indeed, the world is under the hegemony of their governments’ means of control, which spy on and intercept any activity, even supposedly illicit, and strangle the world’s population in a militaristic totalitarian regime.

Yet despite the rigid military and technological apparatus, uprisings and genocides are on the rise in nations around the world, following a trail left behind by the mysterious former U.S. secret agent John Paul.

To stop the escalation of violence and death, a special task force is created under the command of Clavis Shepherd, who follows the clues and bodies planted by Paul until he reaches his beautiful accomplice Lucia Škroupova, an expert in languages and mass psychology.

In fact, we find out that it is John Paul himself who triggers these genocides through stimulation with specific mechanisms of language, not of the mind, but an actual organ in the human body that is in charge of hatred and indiscriminate slaughter.

Thus, when Clavis finally faces his enemy, he is no longer sure which side he wants to be on, terrified of his government’s use of such technology.

Director Shukō Murase stages an espionage action worthy of Metal Gear, with the same basic themes: deception and manipulation of the masses and the indiscriminate use of the minds and bodies of the soldiers themselves, technologically enhanced and exploited to the hilt for all sorts of political agendas.

Genocidal Organ is a unique and inimitable work that is the perfect cinematic testament to Project Itoh, an author capable, like few, of highly entertaining his audience while at the same time making us reflect with concern on the darker sides of the evolution of our society. A technological evolution that is all too often accompanied by a moral devolution of our souls, reverting back to the barbarities of the Stone Age as we push ever forward into the fascinating promises of the future.

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