The Nihon Review - Anime Reviews & Editorials

Appleseed

Title: Appleseed aka Appleseed 2004
Genre: Action
Company: SORI
Format: Movie; 94 minutes.
Dates: 17 Apr 2004

Summary: In the aftermath of World War 3, the city-state of Olympus is the only remaining power on the planet, devoted to protecting what is left of mankind. When Deunan Knute, an elite soldier, is brought to Olympus to meet her former partner Briareos, she learns that even within the seemingly peaceful community, conflict is brewing: The city-state apparently suffers from terrorist attacks and they seem to be coming from a faction of extremist haters of Bioroids, artificial humans supposedly created to live in harmony with mankind. Deunan Knute seems to be the center of interest for the Bioroids…

The Highlights
Artwork: Crisp-clean art and animation.
Music: Driving and appropriate.
Action: Dramatic and suspenseful.
Plot: Predictable at times; deus ex machina ending.
Characters: A little too stereotypical.

Action movies come cheaper by the dozen; good action movies, however, are surprisingly rare. Only when state-of-the-art effects and top-level cinematography meet on the grounds of a gripping and suspenseful script are true classics born. Movies like The Matrix and Aliens are the best examples for action flicks that have made history by finding their unique and easily identifiable style. Even modern productions will always have to measure up against their memorable predecessors.

Appleseed doesn’t completely live up to that legacy, though it comes surprisingly close. With crisp-clean CGI art and cel-shade character animation, it is one of the technically most brilliant anime productions ever. The style needs a few minutes to get accustomed to, but it naturally fits itself into the immensely detailed background world. A driving musical score by the Boom Boom Satellites underlines the mood and the orchestral compositions are always appropriate to the scenes.

The true brilliance of Appleseed, however, shows whenever the action begins. Perfectly paced cinematography guarantees breathtaking fight sequences, from the introductory gritty battleground scenery to the glistening chromium facades of Olympus. Shirow Masamune‘s mecha design is a true classic in itself, but combined with the perfect CGI animation, it comes to life unlike anything I’ve seen in anime before. Drama and suspense are guaranteed by a generally gripping script and splendid director’s work.

The script, however, has some flaws. While it manages to surprise the viewer with quite a few unsuspected plot twists (and does a generally great job of obfuscating who’s good and who’s evil), the three major developments in the story are easily predictable. Even worse, when the heroes’ combined strength doesn’t prove enough to solve the final conflict, a deus ex machina solution is found for the resolution that is as stereotypical as it gets. The characters themselves are a little too stereotypical for their own good as well, especially the villains. A little more individuality would have made them immensely more interesting.

When it comes to action flicks, Appleseed doesn’t quite make it to a true classic but is still easily one of the highly recommendable titles. Technical brilliance and perfectly directed action make it very entertaining. Also, the script takes every effort not to insult the viewer’s intelligence. Far superior to the older OVA production, the Appleseed movie captures both the mood and setting of Shirow‘s manga. See it on the big screen for full effect if you can. You won’t be disappointed.

The Rating: 8
8/10

Reviewed by: Taleweaver

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