Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Appleseed anime 2004

I wasn't familiar with Appleseed, an updated anime from 2004, but I've seen some of the earlier versions of it back in the old VHS days, though never got around to watching it.  I'm not a huge anime fan, I think I'm more a fan of animation in general, meaning, it doesn't have to be Japanese animation.  I like Disney/Pixar stuff along with other animation.  I think one of my main complaints about anime is that most of the English dubbing never sounds quite right to me at times, in that a lot of the female characters sound too young.  Plus a lot of the SF anime has a lot of similar themes to the point of cliche: cyber punk, giant robots, alien invasion, space opera--I realize this is true for SF in general.

Plus some of these animes that were made as a series have many episodes so it's a very slow unfolding story sometimes.  I'm used to animation like Disney or Pixar, let's get the ball rolling, and it's over in about an hour and a half.  Most of the anime does have attractive artwork, but there again too, a lot of it looks the same, beautiful blue skies, or intricately drawn cityscapes.  I'm not trying to be totally negative, just pointing out a few of my reservations.  Plus, a lot of the anime isn't even science fiction, it could deal with romance or sports or what have you, and I feel like if I'm going to watch something like that I'd rather just watch a live action film concerning those topics or a classic film I've not seen.

From what I've uncovered, the original Appleseed came out in manga form in 1985 by Masamune Shirow.  Basically it's about our world set in the utopian city of Olympus around the 22nd-century, and is run by artificial humanoids.  It's similar in feel to Star Wars: A New Hope or at least that's some of the vibe I felt about it.  You have a society of rebels defending the utopian new world order, and the sinister oppressors trying to overthrow its development.  In the opening sequence to Appleseed 2004,  we see the protagonist, policewoman Deunan Knute,  fighting terrorist in some devastated part of the older city.   The action in these sequences was well done, and I have to admit the art style to the film was well done.  Computer graphics has come a long way and they can really create a life-like world these days.  I think that was one of the main draws for me in this movie.  The world building was phenomenal.  At any rate, it looks like the policewoman is about to be either killed or captured when she gets rescued--I don't think I'm giving away a spoiler here, as otherwise it would be a very short movie.

From there we are taken into the utopian city, and meet many of the inhabitants of the city and learn a bit of its history.  Deunan meets Hitomi, who is a member of a genetically engineered race of strong and intelligent beings who have taken over rule of the city.  We also learn some of Deunan's past, and the lover she once had and their history.  We find out that the terrorist want to destroy the central computer and thereby restore freedom and eliminate the genetically engineer race. 

Appleseed (aka Appurushido) was previously filmed in 1988; this newer version incorporates new digital animation technology which combines the look of rounded, three-dimensional images with the visual style of the traditional pen-and-ink process.  All in all it was a pretty interesting SF anime film, and a large part of the draw for me was the art.  But if you're into this sort of story, you might want to check it out.  


At 6:33 PM, Blogger Roman J. Martel said...

I still haven't seen this version of "Appleseed". I did see the original anime from the 80s and that one didn't really click for me. I've heard some really good things about the 2004 version. I should check it out.

I did pick up the first volume of Shirow's manga series and liked it. That series is pretty much his baby and it has something like six or seven volumes and a few spin offs. Shirow is better known for creating "Ghost in the Shell". But I think "Appleseed" appeals to him a bit more.

The manga was pretty good. A bit confusing with the action (but the first volume was one of his early works, but the time he did "Ghost in the Shell" in the 90s his action sequences were much clearer). I liked the concept, but it was post apocalyptic (like a lot of sci-fi in the 80s). Sounds like they might have dropped that concept in the 2004 film. But the duel societies is very much present in the manga. What is interesting is that the film "Elysium" with Matt Damon looked like it might have been inspired by "Appleseed". Never did see the movie, but that was my initial impression from the trailer.

Anyway, thanks for the recommendation.

At 12:35 PM, Blogger El Vox said...

Roman, I think it was inferred at least that it was post apocalyptic, but it dropped you right into this dark world, without explaining it all right away--which actually I think was a good way to handle it.

Once the main female character is taken back to the utopian world, we learn and uncover more about this world and her past. I may not have been that clear about that in the review, and I also started watching this anime too late at night so my attention to detail was a bit fuzzy too.

But what I thought was cool, if you click on the YT link I left, the art sold me, and there are segments in the opening action sequences that have a 3-D quality to them: showing foreground and backgrounds, which I thought was cool.

It looks like that YT movie may have been downloaded from the posters VHS copy, it would be nice to see it on DVD for sharper details. Oh, and another thing, the anime does resolve the story in the end, but I didn't want to give that away.

I saw Elysium, and it was okay. Maybe some of the stylistic choices were borrowed from Appleseed, but the stories were pretty different, I think. It's worth a watch as well, though I couldn't agree with parts of the story concepts.


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