Appleseed Alpha, anime, Blu-ray (2014)Director: Shinji Aramaki Studio: Lucent Pictures/ Sony Pictures [7/22/14] (Incl. Ultraviolet) Video: 1.77:1 for 16:9 1080p HD color, All regions Audio: English Dolby or DTS 5.1, PCM 2.0 Subtitles: English, German, Dutch, Korean, Arabic Dubbed version: German Extras: Filmmakers’ commentary track, In-depth 11-part Making-Of documentary Length: 93 minutes Rating: ****
This is the prequel to the Appleseed anime which came out of the manga of the same name. The director of the original also was the director of the famous Ghost in the Shell. The original Appleseed was released in 2009.
The story takes place in a post-apocalyptic environment, in a totally ruined and destroyed New York City. One of the animators in the extras mentions he has never seen New York City and thus had some difficulties creating the very realistic scenes. The two main characters are again Deunan, the human busty female mercenary soldier, and her sidekick cyborg partner Briareos. Their mission on the outskirts of the war-torn city is to bring some vaccines back to the warlord Two Horns, but they are attacked and the vaccines are lost. They run into two people from the utopian city of Olympus (which they are not sure even exists) who are also on a mission which might save the world. Many of the characters are part human and part machine, as well as those which are total machines. Although Two Horns is a badass, he doesn’t compare to the evil Talos, who plans to use a mega-machine of war to get control of everything himself. In the end it’s up to Deunan and Briareos to save the last hope of humanity.
The most unusual thing about this anime is the realistic quality of the animation. Many of the scenes look exactly like they were shot with real actors on a real set. It is only when there is a super closeup of a human face that one realizes this is really animation, though of a very high quality. There were some previews for other animation features, such as The Avengers, and they looked extremely primitive next to Appleseed Alpha. The Making-Of documentary will interest many animation fans while completely boring those who are not geeks about all this. It is interesting how animations such as this one are now slanted toward Western audiences instead of just the Japanese, with the current growing interest here in anime from Japan. Not only are there no characters the least bit Japanese-looking, but the dialog track is only in English or German.