Hello again Otaku! This month we continue with the SciFi genre, even with the same author! Appleseed is another cyborg-mecha SWAT team action franchise by the author of Ghost in the Shell, Shiro Masamune. Anime Club at the Hyde Park branch got it’s first glimpse of the Appleseed franchise several years ago with the DVD release of Appleseed Ex Machina. This earlier film was a full CGI rendered feature with excellent animation and lifelike flow. I was impressed with the detail and model counts in scenes as well as lighting and soundtrack. A great example was the copious inclusion of bright brass shell casings flying all over the screen and clanking around the floors! Our DVD copy sadly bore the scars of frequent borrowing by our avid teen patrons and wound up with a scratch that made it unreadable. But luckily we are in the age of streaming and the full franchise is available for streaming on Kissanime. To spice things up a little more, we watched Alpha instead last week. It’s a later film but a prequel. Graphics have improved as well as modelling and facial expressions. In fact, the hero’s best “frenemy,” Two Horns, has a mostly cyborg body like his own, but the mouth and facial structures are highly detailed and well animated. This was an obvious focal point of the production and a distinct leap forward in CGI cinema. The soundtrack includes great supporting music for an action movie. The most notable styles are the popular Dub Step and Hip Hop complete with bass drops, releases, and edgy samples.
The story begins with Deunan and Briareos, future ESWAT officers, on a mercenary mission after another world war has ravaged major cities. This is before the new city of Olympus was founded. Deunan is the fully human heroine. She is a highly athletic, well trained, combat veteran and weapons expert. A brave heart and loyal spirit mark her character and her relationship with Briareos.
“Bri” is her boyfriend/partner/combat buddy who a has been though the horrors of war with her and suffered massive injuries yet still survived. He is mostly cyborg now and is characterized by his metal helmet with compound digital camera eyes and ear-like sensor antennae. They are a bit smaller in this later film which I think is an improvement. After the story opens, we find Deunan and Briareos making their way through a deserted cityscape to meet their employer and find help. Bri is suffering some kind of malfunction and his power resources are very low. He needs repairs and they head to a shop that can help them. This is where he meets Two Horns and the story takes off.
It turns out he still owes his frenemy a debt and the dispute escalates. Bri is forced to do another job for this mobster in order to get the repairs he needs in this difficult post war environment. Along the way they encounter another hostile force and the action ensues. It turns out Hitomi, a bioroid or clone and future city administrator, is in a motorcade that drives into an ambush.
No spoilers here, so if you liked Ghost in the Shell, check out the Appleseed franchise. Characters are reversed here with the hero being cyborg and the heroine being human. Drama, romance and action are all present in Appleseed, with a good bit more emphasis on action. Ghost in the Shell was deeper existentially with more sophisticated writing, but both excel at modern SciFi, mecha, cyberbnetic, and SWAT team story lines. I recommend them both.
Did you know that in addition to physical books and DVDs, your library card gives you access to anime and graphic novels online? The BPL subscribes to Hoopla, a streaming service that allows you to check out and enjoy the media you love on your computer, tablet or smartphone. You can learn more about the BPL’s digital media collections here.
Want company while you’re watching anime? The Hyde Park Teen Anime Club meets on Thursdays at 2:30 p.m.
*”Reading Backwards, Watching in Japanese” features reviews of anime and manga by John, the Teen Librarian at the Hyde Park Branch, on the second Tuesday of every month.