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DVD Review: Appleseed

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The future of anime is here… well it’s on DVD anyway. Appleseed is the next step in the evolution towards anime bliss. This movie looks just like I wanted anime to look when I got my eyes on Robotech about 20 years ago. (I’m secretly and foolishly wishing that the series would be remade with this technology, it would look perfect).

Anyhow, about 10 years ago I purchased the original Appleseed (1988)on the word of a friend telling me that it was the ultimate anime flick. Well it wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t very good either. I believe they only used the first book of four to make it. It was confusing and garbled to watch, with the uber-high pitched and squeaky Japanese voice-overs.

But last year I heard that a remake had been made and I downloaded the previews from the Apple site in Japan. It just looked fantastic. Unfortunately it wasn’t released here in Montreal. So I waited and waited for the DVD release and when the day came, I went out to get it. It was BO in all the 8 stores I visited over and over again, for weeks, until 2 days ago when I was at the new Best Buy that opened near my area. I go in and there it was, 3 copies on the shelf, I immediately grabbed one and held on to it like my life depended on it while I took a look at my dream-camera and resisted the temptation to bankrupt myself to purchase it. So to the cash I go. As I do I by the shelf where I picked up my DVD and the remaining 2 copies were already gone. It was my day to get Appleseed I guess.

So yesterday I pop the DVD in as I sit down to eat some pork-chops and boiled potatoes…

I sure as hell wasn’t expecting what I saw. Anime Nirvana. I’m going to have to watch it again and in English this time so that I can really absorb the beautiful imagery. It’s a 3D cell-shaded modeling anime. The colors are simply unsurpassable stunning and fleshy, the motion capture is beautifully perfect (No arms passing through the same persons head or chest, which often happens in motion, capture animation). The action scenes are the best that anime has ever offered. The women are of course impossibly and perfectly framed and moulded, but that’s to be expected with animation. The men, as with most Japanese animation are of course metrosexuals (I don’t get it, but what do I know). But the robots, those sublime gorgeous robots, made me go berserk. The design is pure anime but the 3D modeling and superior animation and frame rate make them come alive.

And the score… yes the score. Most anime scores just suck, usually cheesy synth musak, but here we get ultra trippy industrial music and classical scoring that almost approaches the perfection that is the Akira soundtrack.

OK so we’ve established the near-perfection of the construction of this masterpiece. Now is there a story? Yup. Is it good? Damn right it is. And it is not simple either. In the future, after a devastating world war (it’s a Japanese anime, what did you expect? Certainly not puppies and daffodils) a new utopic society is being built in a mega-city populated with humans and bioroids. Bioroids are synthetic humans so perfect that other than the lack of a sexual drive, they pass as human. No sex drive means no aggression, attachment. These bioroids are used to temper human aggression and violence. And they are not dumb machines either; they live lives, they govern the city with humans, which is regulated by a huge AI called Gaia. And there’s a failsafe, should the bioroid society attempt to take over human society, a huge virus that will kill all the bioroids. But since there’s no roid rage, it shouldn’t be there right? (Ponder that) .

So what could possibly go wrong? There’s a human faction intent on neutralising the bioroids they perceive as a threat. It’s the equivalent of racial intolerance and xenophobia. Their plan is to release the toxin using all possible means. That’s where Deunan comes in. A female warrior from the wastelands that can take out a squadron in no time flat and adapts to any situation. She’s recruited by Briareos, her former boyfriend, who following combat was cyberneticaly enhanced in order for him to survive. He’s more machine than flesh, which makes for an awkward reunion. Throughout the movie Deunan has flashbacks of her life with Briareos and we never see his face, making it all the more mysterious. When she is brought back to the city, she’s unconscious, having barely survived 2 fronts of attack by 2 different kinds of robots. Her guide, Hitomi, is a bioroid, who finds Deunan so attractive that we get this awkward lesbian situation, that never follows through. From there Deunan is settled into her new life in the city, with non-combat clothes, beds and hover cars.

I’ll stop the story telling here, because I don’t want to spoil it either. But trust me, it is a very good story, a complex story (for anime anyway) and amazing action and battle scenes. If you like anime, if you like bots, if you like conflicted heroes, this is the movie for you.

This movie is so good, it makes it almost impossible for me to appreciate old-school anime.

An animated 5 outta 5.
Pub/light edit:NB

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About David Desjardins

  • Azoric, thanks for the intel. This is fantastic news 😀

  • A new ROBOTECH series is in the works and the CG & cell animation look to be even better integrated than Appleseed.




  • Yeah. I hope readers understand that this is a mind-bogglingly beautiful piece of filmmaking and should definitely be seen.

    There’s a bit of violence at the beginning, with the crushing of skulls and such, but I think it largely settles down after that, and remains a rollicking good show throughout.

    The scenes in the rain are simply breath-taking.

  • Yeah I see your point. I think they wanted to keep the old-school anime look of characters, which probably explains the cell shading instead of texturing. It looks like old-school anime, but better.

  • You’re right, but they’re different.

    Less texturing, except for the bionic dude.

    They seem “flat,” is what I’m trying to get across. It’s an unusual mix, and very beautiful.

  • Actually even the characters are fully 3D

  • The visuals on this disc are simply stunning, no question about it. It’s a beautiful mix of 3-D CG backgrounds with 2-D CG figures. Simply lovely.