The News Website for Glendale High School


Breaking News
  • September 13Dr. Lynette Ohanian named GHS Principal! Her previous AP position will be filled by Ms. Jessica De La O!
  • August 30Ms. Bedrousi's daughter just did the cutest thing! OMG, you guys!
  • July 26Dr. Wolf takes principal position at San Marino High School. Ms. Sassounian named interim GHS principal.
  • April 28Mr. Whithorne does not actually own a horn. His name is a lie.
  • October 6Mr. Martinez is unbreakable. Half of his body is composed of metal.
  • October 6Ms. Clark-Reed is at Chipotle right now.
  • October 3Mr. O'Malley now has a full head of hair! (jk, he's still bald.)
  • September 17Mr. Kirkwood and Mr. Benkovich are the same person.
The News Website for Glendale High School


The News Website for Glendale High School


Repo! The Genetic Opera

This sci-fi rock opera has an amazing soundtrack and a beautifully horrible world, but this is certainly a missed opportunity!

Released in 2008, Repo! The Genetic Opera is a sci-fi musical set in a world where organ repossession has become legalized. The opening song, featuring beautifully drawn animation, introduces us to this dark future. As the aptly-named Graverobber laments, “Industrialization has crippled the globe, nature failed as technology spread.”

Stylized graphics show us a monstrous plague, causing widespread organ failure. This issue has been solved by the invention of artificial organs, which are sold on credit, by the company GeneCo, to those whom the plague has claimed. 

After being introduced close-up to the naked brutality of the repo-men, we quickly pivot to the other half of repossession–not the personal violence of the organ collectors, but the impersonal violence of those who run GeneCo. Here, we meet Rotti Largo, the founder of this evil corporation, who is terminally ill but disappointed with his three children. 

With but a gesture, Rotti orders his nameless bodyguards to execute the doctor who has issued his diagnosis. As he sings of his impending demise, with the chorus coming from gas-masked mourners in the cemetery below, we are first introduced to Shiloh, the film’s true protagonist. 

Shiloh is a teenage girl who has been confined to her room by her single father, and she is forbidden to venture outside, due to a genetic disease that she inherited from her deceased mother. As the play progresses, we learn of the connection between herself and Rotti.

When Shiloh sneaks outside, Rotti secretly contacts her. Although she is not aware of it, he wants her to be his heir, in place of his own hated children, who are endlessly squabbling over which of them shall inherit the company. 

Throughout the play, we flash back to the events of more than a decade ago, shortly before Shilo was born. We follow a love triangle between Shiloh’s mother Marni, her father (Nathan Wallace), and Rotti himself, with “blind” Mag appearing as her mother’s best friend.

Nathan wins Marni’s heart, but Rotti, always a sore loser, secretly poisons her. We learn that Nathan has been pressed into service as the very same repo-man shown in the opening scene. Mag, unaware of Shiloh’s birth, becomes GeneCo’s mascot, and she is held hostage by a contract, which stipulates that her artificial eyes will be repossessed should she break it. 

This all culminates in a thrilling climax at a theater, the titular “genetic opera”, where all three survivors of the previous generation meet their end. The exact details of this conclusion shall not be revealed here. 

Although it’s filled with great visuals and even better songs, Repo! ultimately fails to truly take advantage of its premise. This is, perhaps, best evidenced by the repossession itself.

In the opening narration, we are told that people are forced to take organs on loan because of a pandemic that causes organ failure. This event is supposedly the reason for the success of GeneCo, the company that provides the artificial organs in the first place. But this fact is only acknowledged again once in the entire film, when Rotti justifies his atrocities on the basis of his status as global survivor. Over the course of the rest of the film, we are presented with an entirely different reason for the whole artificial organ premise: cosmetic surgery. 

One gets the impression that the entire pandemic was only added to the film at the last minute, and the other songs were never altered to accommodate this change. It’s also strange how, despite the fact that those who can’t pay their loans are murdered and have their organs harvested, we never so much as learn the name of anyone suffering from that problem.

The closest we get to this is Blind Mag, but her issue is not her lack of payment at all, as she is presumably a quite wealthy celebrity and spokesperson. Instead, the threat of repossession she faces is due to her extremely restrictive contract.

It seems that perhaps more could have been spun out from the premise. Instead of focusing on the upper-echelons of those running the system, the filmmakers instead focus on the wider masses who suffer under it.

Despite the underutilization of its premise, Repo! The Genetic Opera remains a great film that is well worth watching. Although I have some criticisms of this film, I still encourage readers to check it out!

About the Contributor
Dashiell Takeuchi, Staff Writer
Dashiell Takeuchi is a senior at Glendale High School. Having come out of JDL, he speaks both English and Japanese with some minor degree of fluency, and he is currently attempting to learn Spanish as well. He enjoys reading both fiction and nonfiction, and he has a fondness for writing and drawing himself, although he never makes enough time for it.
More to Discover