Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Appleseed Anime Movie Review

Manga Entertainment
Movie - 70 mins. - 1 disc
$14.98 (2007)
$19.95 (2001)
ISBN 660200407926
Japanese/English Audio - English Subtitles
Director - Kazuyoshi Katayama
Studio - Bandai Visual

Synopsis: In the aftermath of World War III the world has become a post-apocalyptic wasteland.  Rising from the ashes of the old world is a new society governed by the General Management Control Office and contained within the utopian city of Olympus.  It's the most advanced city known to humankind and seems like the perfect place to live, but many consider it a cage.  The city is highly automated by the super-computer Gaia (located in the Tartarus block) and genetically-engineered humans called bioroids make up a large percentage of the population.  Scientific advances in cybernetics make cyborgs a common sight.
A group of terrorists take some hostages
Bioroids were originally created to serve humankind, but they have risen to govern the city's bureaucracy.  Many humans are resentful of the bioroids and pockets of resistance have broken out all over the city.   The police force has formed an enhanced SWAT (ESWAT) team to deal with terrorism and they've been busy!  Two star members of the team are Deunan Knute and Briareos Hecatonchires.  They were both rescued from the wastelands by Hitomi, a beautiful and philanthropic bioroid.
Deunan and Briareos are called in with the ESWAT team
Briareos is a full-body cyborg after being horribly injured in battle while Deunan is completely human.  The two are partners and friends.  They owe their new lives to Hitomi, but are somewhat suspicious of the political climate in Olympus.  A new terrorist has surfaced called A. J. Sebastian and his goal is to take down Gaia in order to seize power from the bioroids.
A group of terrorists steal some construction Landmates (mecha suits)
There's a terrorist sympathizer on the police force and a new experimental weapon being tested.  What is Hitomi's secret connection with Gaia?  Now Deunan and Briareos are caught in the middle of a terrorist attack which could topple the perfectly manufactured society of Olympus.  Will they side with the humans or help proliferate the antiseptic world of the bioroids?
The terrorist A. J. Sebastian
Pros: Good original concept, cutting-edge mecha designs at the time, bloody violence and tons of swearing!, dub script is pretty funny with a bunch of one-liners, some comedic parts, decent soundtrack
Deunan and Briareos at a dinner to celebrate Hitomi hosted by
all of the human refugees she has rescued over the years
Cons: Dated and bland animation (nothing like the beautifully detailed cover images), terrible dub (the voice actor for Briareos makes him sound like he's from New Jersey), weak characterization and simplistic plot, not the same dub as the original VHS tapes, ending was a bit anti-climactic
There's just something about a woman cleaning a gun in her underwear...
Mike Tells It Straight: Appleseed is based on the classic manga by Masamune Shirow (Ghost in the Shell, Dominion Tank Police).  His artwork and story are mostly butchered in this animated adaptation.  The relationship between Deunan and Briareos is practically non-existent, the character/mecha design details are totally bland, and the plot is highly simplified.  Not much character development exists and I started rooting for the bad guys because they had more backstory (well, not Sebastian, but the crooked cop).
Sebastian in cybernetic armor
If you like old school cyberpunk anime then this show is a solid entry.  Lots of cyborgs and action.  Check out the manga for better art and story.  Appleseed was again adapted in 2004 with an all-CGI feature film.  It was successful enough to spawn a sequel called Appleseed Ex Machina and a 13 episode series called Appleseed XIII.  Animation technology has matured enough to handle the tech elements of the story, but I'm still a bit skeptical about CGI acting.  I'll post reviews about these shows sometime in the future and it's always nice to see more work based on Shirow's incredible art.
A classic cover image from the manga by Shirow
TO BUY and Recommendations: