Sunday, September 11, 2005

Appleseed 2004

Genre: Mecha / Action / Cyberpunk
Parental Guidance Recommended
2004 Masamune Shirow, Shinji Aramaki, TOHO, Digital Frontier, Geneon Entertainment (USA), Inc., Mainichi Broadcasting, Micott & Basara, TBS, TYO, Yamato

Appleseed DVDs
Appleseed Art Books & Manga
Appleseed Original Soundtrack
Appleseed Apparel
Everything Appleseed

Cover Description:
Earth's last city, Olympus, rose from the ashes of a global war on the backs of Bioroids, artificial clones who make up half the city's population. Under the strict guidance of a supercomputer, humanity's last survivors enjoy an idyllic peace, but only on the surface Human terrorists within the military seek a return to power and clash with the government's ESWAT forces lead by the legendary soldier, Deunan Knute, and her boyfriend who is 75% machine. Retrieving the Appleseed will end the conflict, and Deunan alone holds its secret.

The outstanding feature film based on the manga by SHIROW Masamune (Ghost In the Shell), directed by Shinji ARAMAKI (Bubblegum Crisis), and produced by SORI (Ping Pong) features a soundtrack by Boom Boom Satelites, Paul Oakenfold, Basement Jaxx and more and will be available from TOFU records. The DVD will feature high quality video encoded directly from the HD master in 16:9 anamorphic widescreen with 5.1 English Dolby Digital and DTS audio as well as the original Japanese 2.0 stereo and 5.1 DTS Dolby Digital soundtracks! This DVD also features commentary from both the director and the producer!

A future classic. >>> by skysenshi


That was the first thought that came into my head as I watched Deunan throw in one punch after another. With 2D and 3D animation combined, this version of Appleseed brought out some of the best action scenes I ever did see onscreen. The characters’ movements were so fluid—thanks, of course, to motion capture technology—they become reminiscent of The Matrix and its animated counterpart The Animatrix.

Delving further into the subject of animation, you might encounter a lot of things you may not actually like. For instance, with full 3D backgrounds and cel-shaded 3D characters that you aren’t sure if they’re really 2D or 3D—all you can definitely see is that they’ve been put together digitally—you might find the combination a bit awkward. My brother even commented that everything looks lazily done. In retrospect, however, I think that the art and animation are impressive because of the way they capture the feel of the story. And I most definitely will not agree that Reboot looks better, simply because Reboot's character designs don't even look human; and from what I recall of a time long gone, the animation isn't as fluid. In Appleseed 2004, everything’s just so Xenosaga meets Final Fantasy VII meets the goddess of Cyberpunk. That it’s accompanied by a nifty soundtrack is a bonus. The songs are mostly rock music, many of which are in English. I’d like to delve on this further but I haven’t gotten hold of the album just yet.

I like Deunan. That much I can establish. And because I like SailorUranus-type women, who have sound instincts and killer fighting tactics, getting into the story is as easy as slipping on a pair of gloves. (Incidentally, SailorJupiter's voice actress, Emi Shinohara, is cast as the tragic genius Dr. Gilliam.) Sweet-faced tough chick Deunan finds herself in quite a predicament: waking up in a new world were Bioroids, man-made humanoids, keep the balance within society. She is eventually reunited with her lover, only to find that he now sports a robotic body. Later, she unlocks the past and remembers vital events in her childhood that she should have long forgotten because of the danger they pose to the ideal society.

The premise of Utopia in Appleseed is something that I do not find appealing. Bioroids were invented with stunted emotions. The philosophy behind this is that if there’s no love, no feelings, no sex, there would be no hatred, no fighting, no war. And just when you think that the movie becomes cliché—a battle of superiority between races—elements of conspiracies get muddled up and you’ll see ironies piling up like yesterday’s laundry. If you were in Deunan’s place, you’d find a whole heap of dilemmas in your hands that need to be addressed. It may not be too obvious, but this is one cyberpunk title that can essentially become philosophical without resorting to pseudo-complex concepts. You’ll find yourself answering most of the characters’ questions like, “Are humans such a flawed race that they should be considered inferior?” and, “Bioroids were invented to protect humans. Why then should they replace humans?” There's even an additional dilemma to contend with: If you make Bioroids completely human-like, in the sense that they can reproduce, wouldn't that mean activating their emotions-they will be able to feel hatred and have the inclination to start wars? How then would that differentiate them from humans?

Honestly, even though I’ve seen the 80’s Appleseed, I don’t remember much of it except for the funny-looking mechs. Now this new take is something that I know I would remember, despite the persistence of the funny-looking mechs. Hey, at least the mecha look a lot more sophisticated than their 80’s counterpart, with Briareos’ rabbit ears (which Firesenshi complained about in her Appleseed OAV review) being cleverly shadowed! I’m sure it also left quite an impact to those who have already seen it—they either hate it or love it so much that it would leave a permanent imprint on their minds. Then again, I’m just a sucker for wonderfully choreographed fight scenes that these may have skewed my perception of things.

Individual Rating: Art/Animation 8; Story 8; Characters 9 Sounds 9

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