Story Having seen the original OVA for Appleseed, I was expecting this movie would be nothing more than glorified eye candy with a weak plot and nothing to show up the surely pretty graphics. The original OVA is basically a police show, handling one case. We know about the city and the bioroids, and the hostilities between the bioroids and the military, but not much more than that. We have no idea what Appleseed means or why it has anything to do with the OVA, and there isn't anything deep, per se.
Boy, was I surprised...
Appleseed the MOVIE was incredible. Simply incredible. And hands down one of the best sci fi plots I've seen in a film. Unlike the OVA, this movie goes into great detail about what Appleseed is, more history about the city and why it was created, who created it, and who is involved with the clashes between the military and the bioroids. Not to mention, the way it's shown to us is damn interesting, as opposed to how boring I felt the OVA was. We see Deunan's life briefly before she came to Olympus, how she was "recruited", and even her past relationship with Briareos. None of this is shown in the OVA, we just see her in the city happily doing various police duties.
Appleseed is an hour and a half, but flies by, and definitely feels like you are watching a movie. I didn't feel like there were any downtimes or slow times that I felt bored. There always was something going on, whether it was exploring the beautiful city, getting caught in a badass fight, or discovering terrible secrets about one's past. At first, the plot seems cool enough as it is: bioroids are 50% of the city, military wants to shut them down, bioroids want to take control because humanity is full of burdening emotions that will cause their destruction. Then, however, even more craziness occurs and we find out an insidious plot full of twists, turns, and betrayals, including one major twist at the end that shocked me, at least. We see relationships between the characters, character development, and overall, walk away at the end feeling great about having seen this masterpiece. Appleseed is fantastic, hands down, and the plot shined. Animation Considering most people knew about Appleseed because of the kickass graphics, it shouldn't be a surprise that they did indeed kick ass. The backgrounds were BEAUTIFUL, and at times the surroundings and people (but only from afar) looked quite real. One scene in particular was when Deunan fell on a bed, and the blankets moved softly like a person had actually fallen on them. The training facility is another good example... the stone walls looked extremely real. Unfortunately the characters didn't look totally realistic, as this wasn't really trying to be another Final Fantasy: Spirits Within type CG movie. It almost looked animated in a way, or very, very well blended with CG. Appleseed is 100% CG though, so the style just happens to look that way. It sort of reminded me of Tales of Symphona, how it was layered and such. Colors were all dark and moody, as the entire film was very cyberpunk. The robots used to fight in were amazing, and all the movements in general were impressive and fluid. The fight scenes in general were extremely interesting, especially the fight between Deunan, Briareous, and these cyborg women who fought with razor thin cord that could slice right through a car. Seriously folks, the animation was stunning and the screenshots should prove it. I only knocked down a slight bit of points because I wish the characters would have looked a little more real and less animated. Sound The audio was a strange mix of synthy electronic beats, and pop type songs. Not J-pop, which was strange... all the pop songs were sung in English. This was a fault, I think... the songs fit the scenes, but I wondered why English songs were chosen for an anime of sorts. Regardless, the music flowed PERFECTLY with the scenes, and mirrored the tension, action, or drama of the moment beautifully. Orchestral pieces tied up various scenes, making it feel even more like a movie, not a random episode. Fantastic music all the way around. Voice acting was great as well. Characters Two characters dominated the movie: Deunan and Briareos. Briareos, as we find out extremely soon in the movie (hence I don't consider it a spoiler) was Deunan's lover, who has since had to get a cyborg body due to an incident in the war. Their relationship is the cornerstone of the movie, I felt. The dynamic between the two when they are reunited up until the end is tear jerking at times, and frustrating at other times. For some reason you feel empathetic towards them and their fate, which is something most movies usually can't do, in my opinion. Other characters are just as interesting, such as Athena, the makeshift leader of the bioroids and prime minister, and Hitomi, the young bioroid female who recruited Deunan. These characters have their pasts explored and we know some things about them, but Deunan and Briareos are definitely the heart and soul of the movie. Other characters include the military and those who want to destroy the bioroids, the seven old men who communicate with Gaia (the city's artificial intelligence), and more. I believe everyone in the movie contributes to the amazing feel you have once you finish, and thus the high score. Overall Appleseed was much better than I expected, and was an amazing film to boot. Literally the only thing I'd complain about (and it's minor) is the fact that they could have gone 100% bang up CG and made the characters look real, and they definitely looked animated most of the time. Besides that, stunning visuals, great music, wonderful character development, and an all around thrilling and exciting sci fi plot that has several twists and turns makes for an absolutely amazing watch. You must check this out if you love sci fi.
Story It's time for another go at animating the cult manga "Appleseed" (by Masamune Shirow) spanning over four volumes and a databook. This manga is actually "ongoing". Even if it was some 14 years ago since Shirow wrote about things to come in Volume 5 in the databook, the project isn't dead. But when this fifth volume will reach the shelves...well..let's not speculate about that.
First we had the Appleseed OAV: a one episode story from the end of the 80's. It took parts out of manga volume 1 and 2 and compressed it all down to an hour or less. This caused a confusion amongst the viewers to say the least as nothing was explained, because there were simply no time.
So, the movie creator took another approach. 'Let's not try to animate the manga'. They understood how complex Appleseed is, and to try to animate this manga is foolish unless you are looking at a full 26 episode show, which they weren't. So, what we have here is an animated political thriller sci-fi action movie thingie which has borrowed elements from Appleseed. No one is able to write as complex and true to life political thrillers as Shirow when all comes around, although the complexity in this movie is far away from the manga.
The timeline is set a bit into the 22nd century after the great war which turned the earth into wasteland. But amidst this land a city called Olympus was built as mans last hope. In this city, called "Utopia" by some, humans live without fear of war, violence or poverty. Life is good and stable thanks to bioroids which make up 50% of the population. Bioroids are enhanced humans/clones with, amongst some things, limited feelings and are meant to keep people from getting angry at each other. The problem here is that there are always a bunch of people who don't like these enhanced beings. They're afraid of them taking over the place, starting a war, making the humans disposable and so on. And this is where politics comes into play. Here we have a whole bunch of powers acting out. Without going into this to deeply: We have the legislative group, the Olympus Administration, and the Military. These are the basics and from there we have various branches.
Basically all names in this show are borrowed from Greek mythology and the characters/building stuctures are made to somewhat mirror these gods and goddesses. The show mainly centers about Deunan - a woman in her early twenties brought up with gunpowder under her nails. Then we have Briareos, her lover whom Deunan fought together with during the great war. Due to an accident within Olympus, Deunan and Briareos are sent onto a mission which not only concerns themselves, but also the future of the world.
The ending is very well executed. Seeing as the manga story is left open, or rather that there is an ongoing arc (seeing as we have a fifth volume on the way), the script for the movie had to be quite different as to not leave plots hanging and such things. All in all, it's a good story which beats most modern Hollywood productions many many times around. The movie creator has done a good job in borrowing elements from the manga as well as creating new elements.
Animation This movie is very different from the manga and there isn't much which is true to it. Some characters aren't even in it, and they have also added a couple of characters. What is true however, would be the designs in this movie, except for the characters. Shirow himself apparantly re-drew the characters to make them more modern, sexy, appealing and fitting for the movie -- and they certainly are. The characters are beautifully made with a very modern design. As they're all 3D it's possible to squash in a lot more detail into the anatomy, clothing and similar things.
This movie is a big leap within the animation industry. This whole movie is completely 3D animated. Meaning that basically all movements in this show have been rendered via 'motion-capture' making them very natural and true-to-life. The result is an astounding, magnificient, beautiful, great, breathtaking, adorable, cool movie which gave me lots of goosebumps. There are to many impressions to be able to actually type them out here.
This show uses the whole color-palette and everything feels crisp and fresh. The animation is very fluent as they've used full 24 fps animation, contrary to standard anime which lands somewhere between 8 - 15 fps. Buildings, vehicles, characters, backgrounds, well basicaly everything is very detailed and the textures used are of a very high quality. There is only one scene in this movie which looks quite mediocre compared to the rest of the material. The lipsynch has been successfully animated and there is only one character where the lipsynch looks a bit to animated. In some cases they've used facial capture -- meaning that the facial animation of a character completely mirrors that of a real human.
They decided to go for "toon/cell" shading when making this movie. Toon/Cell shading is what we have in regular anime. For example, that the shadows are fields where they've used a darker color-tone of the original. The shadows can look a bit square and usually don't have a gradient at all. This might look weird at first as you expect more true-to-life shading due to everything else looking very close to realistic. According to an interview, the creators decided not to go with that kind of shading as they wanted to keep the anime feel of the show, nor were the characters designed to look true-to-life. I think they made the right choice in going with toon shading, as it looked great on the characters and flowed well with everything else.
Sound Just like with the animation, the movie really shines in this department as well.
The music itself is varied with everything from progressive techno trash music to classical compositions. Overall the background music is used perfectly in this movie. The classical pieces come in when needed -- mostly during emotional or deeper events -- whereas they throw in the modern stuff when the action comes on. My only gripe with the music would be some of these modern tunes. Sure, they all make a good impression in sounding very futuristic and post-apocalyptic, but some of the tunes, while they hold good quality sound and mixing wise, are not what I'd consider to be quality music. There's even one "tune" which could compete with SLK's Slogun... and I believe even I could produce something better. While it certainly adds to the mood, it's not something I like listening to on my 5.1 system all cranked up.
A big plus goes out to the theme song which is actually written by "Basement Jaxx" (featuring Lisa Kekaula). It's very catchy with a more modern poppish RnB influenced sound and the text is fitting for the movie. This is probably the only BJ tune I've ever liked, seeing as I generally dislike modern RnB. Another English artist involved is Paul Oakenfold. Most of the modern tunes were, however, recorded by the Japanese band "Boom Boom Satellites".
Characters We have a mix of characters in the show. Unfortunately, due to the timeframe of a movie, some characters are left somewhat undeveloped. Nike who is a minister of internal affairs, as well as chief of staff in the manga, is reduced to something which looks like a mere secretary for Athena in the movie. But once again, one will have to be a realist -- and in this story Nike's role isn't all that important; they didn't exploit her character.
Appleseed is full of interactions, as it's centered around having the different factions try to work (or rather, not work) things out with each other. All in all, it's once again very believable and true-to-life.
Overall This is an excellent movie from all aspects, in my opinion. While I know many people who have read the manga disagree with me regarding the story, I think it's important to be realistic. This is not an animated version of Appleseed, but rather, a movie which is built up by borrowing elements from the manga, as well as introducing new ones. The political depth and complexity has been toned down a lot as well as some characters, and that was the right thing to do as the timeframe didn't allow for more depth than was already given. New characters were introduced in order to help support this version of the story, and others weren't included at all as they weren't neccessary.
Overall I love everything about this movie, and it's at the top segment of my favorite movie list. It's got a good story with some depth and interesting concepts. It's beautifully made and is definitely a success within the 3D area. The sound is great, with a good opening theme song. The characters behave believably and the interactions are good. It's worth mentioning that I'm not a movie fanatic though, so my movie arsenal isn't all that big compared to some people.
This, ladies and gentlemen, will be the highest ranked review i've written up to today's date.
If you like this movie and are interested in a lot more depth of this universe, then I suggest you get a hold of the four manga volumes as well as the databook (which you read after you've read the four volumes). This explains and shows the entire political apparatus in a more visual way. It also covers a brief rundown of the main characters involved in Appleseed, the landmates which are used, ideas and sketches, specs, and so on.
To begin with, I watched the English dubbed version of the 2004 Appleseed movie, how this may affect my ratings I am not sure. I am not going to lie my anime tastes may not be as totally refined as many others but this is the first time I have come across such a highly rated piece of anime that I felt did not nearly live up to the hype.
I gave the story such a low score because I honestly feel that the story lacks a whole lot of interest. This video is definitely character(Deunan mainly) driven. This would be fine if she was interesting... like at all. We find out a little bit about Mrs. Knute and at nearly the end of the story the memory of Deunan's mother becomes one of her two only motivators. As far as back story goes we barely have any idea why Deunan is out killing people in the awesome Matrix style manner than she is or what the whole war is really about. Though on a nicer note the idea of the bioroids fits the sci-fi genre theme that Appleseed is going for incredibly. Unfortunately this all boils down to a terrible case of vaguness. No attachments are ever made between the viewer and the pace of the story or any type of interest.
The backgrounds and battles in Appleseed are spectacular. Particularly the effects of the mobile platforms and the LandMates doing battle. All in all incredible battle and urban utopian CG. The bad part you may ask? The characters themselves look terrible. Movements outside of battle look horribly awkward as do their interactions with the environment or eachother. Personally this is half of the animation score in my eyes.
The music was not memorable and actually the english vocalist was grating on my ears closer to the end. The most brutal part was the horrible stereotypes(if you can call them that) in the choices of voice actors for particular characters like Hades. He sounds like Rae from the first Vampire Hunter D movie to me and the voice only brings back memories of shallow villains. Deunan's shrill cry of Briareos' name on way too many occasions made me want to put my foot through my monitor at times. Besides this the voice acting was average with great emotion felt from some of the leading males.
Now to one of my least favourite bits. The freaking character development. Its like Deunan was a character the writers had a dream about one night and wanted to make a movie involving her back story, maybe to set up the next movie? It would have been preferable had her backstory been totally blanked like in many other animes and her badassery level would have remained pretty high. And her name is terrible to say in english. "Dunannoot" is what I would have thought her name was had I not read a review beforehand. The fact no other character is developed besides being able to label them as a bioroid, bioroid hater, genocidal douche, and as a human soldier is brutal.
I was incredibly disappointed after watching this video through the first and last time ever. The action was cool to begin with but later just became redundant like they were trying to just put some filler in between a heartfelt talk that never makes any sense and the conclusion of the movie. I make no attempt to tell you to avoid this movie, watch it and I can only hope others feel the way I do.