Friday, June 14, 2013

Appleseed Anime Movie Review

Geneon (Pioneer)
Movie - 105 mins. - 1 disc
$39.98 (2010) Blu-Ray
$19.98 (2009)
$19.98 (2005)
$29.98 (2005) Limited Edition (2 disc)
$49.98 (2005) Limited Edition (2 disc) w/figure
$19.98 (2005) UMD (PSP)
ISBN 013023252790
Japanese/English Audio - English Subtitles
Director - Shinji Aramaki
Studio - Micott & Basara/Digital Frontier

Synopsis: The world has been broken apart by consecutive World Wars and the majority of land is lawless.  Warring factions battle for turf supremacy only to have other factions show up to challenge them.  Humanity is on the brink of self-annihilation, but hope exists in the form of Olympus, a seemingly utopian city where peace and prosperity reign.  Technology has advanced considerably with perfected bio-engineering and cyborg enhancement processes.  The secret to Olympus' success is a population comprising mostly bioriods - bio-engineered humans who govern the city without the influence of strong emotions like love and hate.  The bioroids' mission is to protect and nurture humanity from it's own destructive nature.  Aiding and guiding them is the supercomputer Gaia.
The post-apocalyptic utopian city of Olympus
Deunan Knute is a young soldier who has survived the global wars only to be abducted to Olympus.  She awakens and is educated about Olympus society by a girl named Hitomi, who happens to be a bioroid.  Deunan is reunited with her friend Briareos who she thought was killed during the wars.  The two were more than just friends, but now Briareos is 75% cyborg with a mechanical visage.  Deunan reels from the startling revelation and new life in Olympus.
Deunan has an awkward moment with Briareos
She joins the ESWAT (enhanced SWAT) team which combats urban terrorism primarily from dissenting military factions bent on removing the bioroids from political power.  They want to return power to the humans and do away with Gaia.  Deunan gets a crash-course in operating a landmate and put to the test in a real firefight.  She's an incredibly skilled warrior and learned from her father, a renowned military leader during the global wars.
Hitomi talks with Briareos about Deunan
What secrets do Olympus and the bioroids hide?  Gaia seems like the ultimate benefactor, but it predicts humans will annihilate themselves within three generations.  What lengths will be taken to save humanity from themselves?  How does Deunan fit into the grand scheme of Olympus and what is the Appleseed?
Deunan and Hitomi bond over drinks
Pros: An impressive amount of CGI (computer graphic images) work, great techno musical score (including Paul Oakenfold and Basement Jaxx), fairly decent science fiction plot, lots of intense action, cool mecha designs based on Masamune Shirow's work, okay character developments
A bunch of creepy old guys help run Olympus from behind the scenes
Cons: CG character movements look unnatural, character acting is very stiff and bland (facial expressions and body language), the film is missing the comedy aspects of the original manga, Briareos' optic sensors are red which make him look antagonistic (guess that's somewhat intentional)
Briareos battles a cybernetic assassin
Mike Tells It Straight: Not just a simple remake of the original 1988 film (reviewed here), this newer version is a complete re-visioning of Masamune Shirow's (known for Ghost in the Shell, Dominion Tank Police) manga series.  Several major plot points are changed such as Briareos coming to Olympus before Deunan and her thinking he was dead.  Hitomi's character is much smarter and less ditzy in the new version.  I really liked the changes and explanations of the bioroids - they finally made sense.
Deunan and Briareos suit up to face a terrorist crisis
This movie is 100% CG and has practically none of the traditional animation feel to it.  I didn't really like the visuals as much and felt the backgrounds looked too blatantly artificial.  Kind of felt like a souped-up video game CG clip.  The character acting and body language were incredibly stiff and unbelievable.  I'm still not convinced of full-CG acting yet and this movie is a prime example (Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children is another).
Deunan and Briareos are confronted by military dissidents
I'll admit the action and sheer visual accomplishment kind of distracted me to the poor CG acting.  There is a lot of action and this film finally does Shirow's source material justice vs. the poor and simplistic 1988 feature.  Shinji Aramaki is a  legendary director and mechanical designer (Genesis Climber Mospeada, Gasaraki) who presents an interesting science fiction tale.
Briareos needs some repairs.  Ouchie :(
If you like Shirow's work and are curious about CG then this film will be very interesting to check out.  I certainly don't think full-CG is going to replace traditional-looking (i.e. hand-drawn in appearance) animation any time soon.  This film spawned a sequel, Appleseed Ex Machina, and a series, Appleseed XIII.  I'll review those in the future and look forward to seeing how the CG animation evolves.  Stay tuned!
An image from the original manga by Masamune Shirow

TO BUY and Recommendations: