Appleseed DVD Review

Region: 1 Length: 68 min  Languages: English, Japanese w/subtitles
 Content: 1 Movie Distributor: Manga
General Notes: This movie is an adaptation of a popular and long-running manga by Masamune Shiro.

My, What Big Hair you Have!

Before I begin, I suppose that I should inform the reader that I have no experience with the Appleseed manga. However, I don't believe that this is a necessary prerequisite for enjoyment of this movie. The story and characters are presented in such a manner so as to eliminate the need for a prior understanding of them.

The plot of Appleseed revolves around a city named Olympus, which is one of the few outposts of civilization in a devastated post-WW III world. The protagonists are two survivors rescued by the so "Biodroids"- the androids who administer Olympus- from the outside world to serve on the Olympus Police Department.  Olympus is a utopian community, but as it turns out it is a little too perfect for some of the human inhabitants. These rogue humans for a terrorist organization that attempts to destroy Olympus by shutting down the city's central computer, Gaia.

This story serves as the pretense for a number of action sequences (including a number of Patlabor-esque mecha engagements), as well as some suspense and mystery. The action is fairly mild and, for the most part, sanitary. These sequences are the standard action movie shoot-outs, chases, and the like. The animation quality of Appleseed is about average. There is a reasonable level of detail, with some really striking artwork depicting Olympus and its technology. I must mention that the character and mecha designs are beginning to show their age. This movie dates from the late 1980's, so consequently many characters are running around with big hair and computers are still using 5 in. diskettes! However, these aspects didn't detract from my enjoyment of the show.

The quality of the dub is somewhat suspect, since Appleseed was dubbed some time ago for a VHS release. While none of the lines seem to be particularly grating, the voice talent seems to suffer from the same severe case of boredom that afflicted many dubs from the early 1990's...

Personally, I enjoyed this movie. The plot is decent enough to keep the interest of viewers who, like myself, have no idea what the manga is about. The characters are likewise built up fairly well, with numerous references to their past in order to establish where they came from and how they came to live in Olympus. Unfortunately, because of the short length of the movie (only a little more than an hour), none of the characters are developed very far. I fear that long-time readers of the manga might be turned off by this fairly light treatment given to the material. Also, some anime fans might not enjoy the dated look of Appleseed. I honestly find the dated character styles and retro technology designs to be rather charming, but I also know that such things don't appeal to some fans.

Overall, I would definitely recommend this movie to fans of the manga, with the warning that it doesn't delve too deeply in to the Appleseed universe. Also, those who enjoy retro anime productions will get a real kick out of this one. However, most other anime fans would probably be better off looking for their action fix somewhere else. The short length and dated nature of this movie makes many other options more appealing.

By: Andy Rucker