DVD REVIEW: APPLESEED ALPHA / CERT: 12 / DIRECTOR: SHINJI ARAMAKI / SCREENPLAY: MARIANNE KRAWCZYK, MASAMUNE SHIROW / STARRING: LUCI CHRISTIAN, DAVID MATRANGA, ELIZABETH BUNCH, WENDEL CALVERT / RELEASE DATE: OCTOBER 27TH
Masamune Shirow is best known for two sci-fi works; Ghost in The Shell and Appleseed. Whereas Ghost in the Shell, with its obvious techno-thriller hooks and strong female lead is perhaps the better known, Appleseed has always been the series of choice for action junkies. Appleseed Alpha is a prequel to the main Appleseed series, serving as an easily accessible way in for those who may have been turned off previously by Appleseed’s lengthy back-catalogue and detailed world.
Appleseed Alpha introduces us to the Deunan and her cyborg partner Briareos; two mercenaries trying to make ends meet in a world ruined by apocalyptic warfare. We first meet the pair in the thick of the action, having just completed a job for crime boss Two Horns. The first five minutes sets up the world pretty quickly; the world is a mess, Deunan and Briareos are badasses and no one gets an even break. Events conspire to pair the two with agents from an allegedly utopian city called Olympus, and inevitably the two mercenaries become embroiled in an adventure to save what’s left of New York City from the power-mad and evil.
This particular production is done in CGI, and that animation style truly works here. CGI does both shiny and gritty really well and, given that this is a high-tech war drama, it fits. The main character models are particularly well designed, especially when you consider that Masamune Shirow has a tendency to draw women in an unrealistic way. The limitations of CGI neatly solve this problem, and the story is better for it. Of particular note is the way the cyborg Two Horns laughs; it’s very cleverly done and also happens to let the viewer buy into this strange futuristic world.
Mostly, Appleseed Alpha is about the action. We have cyborgs punching each other, people firing huge weapons at impossibly large things, tank warfare and many, many explosions. The individual fight scenes are well directed and though the entire affair has a slight video game feel to it, it’s rather fun all the way through. Appleseed Alpha is a beautifully-produced and action-packed piece of post-apocalyptic sci-fi and fans of Ghosts in the Shell and military sci-fi will get a real kick out of it.
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