Weekend Review – Appleseed (2004)

As many other franchises have received in the past, the Halo series is getting an anime compilation DVD – collecting various shorts in the universe – one of these directed by Shinji Aramaki, who directed this movie. So, how good is it (this movie)?

Cast, Crew & Other Stuff

Ai Kobayashi as Deunan Knute
Juurouta Kosugi as Brialeos Hecatombcales
Mami Koyama as Athena
Miho Yamada as Nike
Takehito Koyasu as Hades
Toshiyuki Morikawa as Yoshitsune Miyamoto
Yuki Matsuoka as Hitomi
Yuzuru Fujimoto as Uranus

Directed by Shinji Aramaki
Music by Ryuichi Sakamoto & various techno groups
Screenplay by Haruka Handa & Tsutomu Kamishiro, based on a manga by Masamune Shirow
Animation by Digital Frontier

The Premise

In the far future, Earth has been torn apart by a catastrophic war. One of the few havens for civilization is the utopian city of Olympus, controlled almost entirely by the artificial intelligence Gaia and the 7-man Council of Elders. There, humanity, and the artificially created humans called Bioroids live togeather in harmony – until a faction of the military lead by Gen. Uranus and his second in command, Col. Hades, plots to destroy all the Bioroids. It’s up to newcomer Deunan Knute, and her former lover Briareos (who was nearly killed and was moved to a fully cybernetic body – which has little to no human features), to stop Uranus and find the “Appleseed”.

High Points

The confrontation between the army units and ESWAT in the lab.

Low Points

I came into this expecting something a bit more philsophically deep. Maybe I got spoiled by Ghost in the Shell – I dunno. I know that Shirow’s done some signifcantly less deep stuff (Dominion Tank Police, for example), but this – kind of – puts itself between the two. It aspires for philosophical depth, but it doesn’t really get there. I’ll try to explain… the conflict in the film is basically between two Totalitarian dictatorships. One lead by humans, and from how the members of the Army are depicted (particularly Col. Hades), would turn ultra-facist very quickly. The other is a “benevolent” totalitarian dictatorship, lead by Gaia. There’s no middle ground that provides choice for humanity – in fact the prevailing message of the film can basically be described as “Humanity frells up everything that it touches, so it needs to be removed from control of the world – but not exterminated – with something that can think logically, like an AI, and isn’t subject to human prejudices to run things for us.” However, being that the AI would have to be designed by humans, that plan won’t work either. So, basically, the philosophical “point” of the film has all the depth of something thought up by a Middle schooler.

Nudity & Violence

No nudity here, but plenty of violence (including a CG head getting crushed by a cyborg).

The Scores

Originality: It’s an adaptation of a manga, and one that doesn’t differ much from most of the other settings Masamune Shirow’s done. 3/6.

Animation: The animation is okay, but it’s one the level of some of the PS2 games in my library. 4/6.

Acting: The vocal performances are decent, with the cast doing well with the material they’ve got. 4/6.

Story: About half the film is spent setting up the backstory of the setting, with little-to-no backstory for the characters – 3/6.

Emotional Response: Between my problems with the setting, and the lack of empathy for the characters, I found myself not caring at all if the heroes failed or not, or if they died or not. 2/6.

Production: The score doesn’t stand out much, and eneither does the techno. The sound design is pretty middle of the road too. The mecha design is nice though. 3/6.

Overall: A very mediochre of an adaptation of one of Masamune Shirow’s more middle-of-the-road manga. 3/6.

In Total, Appleseed gets a 23/42.

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