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Way of the future.
littlemanheaven7 December 2004
First things first; if you're looking for a literary masterpiece or an anime masterful like the works of Hayao Miyazaki and Mamoru Oshii, then Appleseed is not for you. It's plot is cliché with the overused science fiction premise of struggle between two coexisting races and the flaws and sins of humans, and the general execution of the plot is also in no way an outstanding one of the genre.

What Appleseed truly is, is a technological achievement in 3D animation for Japanese anime. It's animation style is far from Hollywood animation features like Finding Nemo and Shrek, instead it uses cel-shading technology which we've already seen in video games, and takes it up to a very high and polished level. The result is a beautiful movie with jaw-dropping animation, such that one cannot doubt that this style will pave the way for the future of anime movies. The range of emotions expressed through the CG is impressive; and motion capture has worked beautifully into the film, making it a seamless viewing experience. As a whole product, it's graphical presentation rivals that of great 2D animation features.

Other aspects are fairly well done; the music is done fairly well, with the opening song giving it a distinct flavour but later that fades away to the average run-of-the-mill songs that aren't particularly effective in rousing the emotions and senses. The artistic direction is great, with wonderful colors and tones chosen to accentuate the mood from the bleak dark ruins to the pastel colors of the Utopia. Scene execution is also stellar, and the structural development of the movie is natural although inter character relationships are somewhat lacking in development.

As a whole, it's an extremely graphically polished product based on an overused premise.
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DanielJosLeary17 October 2004
Warning: Spoilers
My thoughts on Appleseed may be perceived as a bit more negative then the reviews preceding mine, but that is pretty much because my experience with the movie was greatly influenced by the reaction of the audience I saw it with. This was at the U.S. premiere of Appleseed as part of the Boston Fantastic Film Festival which screened the Japanese language, English subtitled print of the film. And it is important to note that the group around me were there because they wanted to be. The BFFF is an all science fiction, horror and genre film festival and is only in its second year. So anyone there was there because they love these types of movies.

Once the film started the reaction was good. Everyone(including myself) seemed stunned by the visuals, and if not impressed at least forgiving of the Matrix style slow-mo shots. But about forty minutes in people began laughing. Unfortunately the laughter was actually coming from the ridiculous nature of many clichéd and over dramatized moments.

The first of which came when the character Hitomi, an emotionally engineered "Bioriod," wonders what it would be like if she was able to love, leading a soft piano chord to swell onto the soundtrack. The entire audience actually burst into laughter. Sadly to say Appleseed has quite a few more moments that caused the same reaction: When the heroine flashbacks realizing that she is the key to the plot, one character dies dramatically in the others arms, it is revealed that the baddies can be stopped if only the failsafe button way up there can be reached, the heroine reaches breathlessly for the button with seconds to go, etc, etc.

And when the movie ended EVERYONE in the theater burst into discussion of what they had just seen. But the conversations I overheard were not favorable. Most people seemed to think they had wasted their money and I even heard one guy in the theater alley afterward saying it was "the worst movie he'd ever seen." I don't feel nearly that feral toward the movie.

Personally, I have to say Appleseed is one of the most groundbreaking animes in the last six or seven years. The visuals are stunning, the action is well paced, and most of the capabilities of this cell-shaded CGI animation are explored, delivering many moments that would be impossible in hand drawn. And I also liked much of the art style and how it called back to all the post-apocalyptic cyberpunk anime and manga of the late 80s/Early 90s. The environments and characters really seemed like living, breathing versions of the ones in Akira and Ghost in the Shell.

But the distracting and embarrassing clichés in Appleseed seem to come from this new art style. With the cell-shaded CGI you are experiencing anime style characters existing in an environment much more like the real world then 2D hand-drawn anime. The characters are bound very close to real world physics in this form of animation. Their heads can't grow big when they yell, a single drop of sweat can't appear on the temple of their foreheads when they are embarrassed and a flashing colored background can't run behind them when they transform or become excited.

But the creators of this new Appleseed movie still kept many of the story elements and character mannerisms that are convention to other anime. Along with all the other over dramatized Japanese sentimentality that have been in so many hand-drawn movies anime fans don't blink twice at them. But they just didn't work in this form of animation.

Ultimately, this movie will have difficulty becoming a classic the way Akira and GitS did, because Appleseed doesn't break new ground in story as it does with visuals the way earlier anime classics have. But it's still a wonderful first stepped toward new possibilities in both Japanese and world animation.
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Here's a bit of everything, violence and fighting scenes, hi-tech armory, some love and some conspiracy as well.
scobbah14 December 2005
First of all, this piece is brilliantly animated. Combining the visual effects with the sound effects this way makes me think of The Matrix, with fast cuts, some slow-motion sessions and of course a lot of doppler effects. I thought the plot was quite OK, not too original but not too hasty either. It has a good development I thought, and I have to admit that I were a bit worried for a while if it'd be able to sum things up in a good way, which I think it did quite well. Here's a bit of everything, violence and fighting scenes, hi-tech armory, some love and some conspiracy as well. I'll give this a 7/10. I can't say how much in fact the plot has earned these points, but if you like visual effects and fast-paced fighting scenes you're probably going to like this.
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Clichéd, slow and melodramatic, but worth it when it gets going
CuriosityKilledShawn2 April 2006
Appleseed simultaneously suffers from the worst Anime has to offer and benefits from the best animation and production a modern production can have. If you are a hardcore Manga fan (or just occasionally fond of it like me) you'll be aware of the most typical clichés, most of which make up the bulk of the Appleseed story.

So...we have a world set after WWIII, in which a Utopian Society has finally found peace. But there are still some people who cannot help but let their anger and bigotry take hold. Android/Clones with suppressed emotions help balance out Utopia and some even want to be fully-fledged humans. There are humans who hate these Androids and wish them to all die out. And there are some Android who hate humans and wish them to all die out. And finally, there is a big computer who runs everything.

Nothing there you haven't seen before huh? It also takes a while to build up momentum. Though when it does, the plot twists and turns and action scenes are truly exhilarating. The animation quality is breath-taking with seamless blending of hand-drawn, motion capture, CGI and 3D images. Style and plot-wise it is very, very similar to Sky Blue/Wonderful Days. But since they were in production at the same time one cannot accuse the other of plagiarism.

The sheer amount of technology and hardware in the movie will make you drool. There are loads of cool devices, futuristic inventions and awesome weaponry. There is also loads of atmosphere with gorgeous, gorgeous sunsets, storm-lashed oil rigs and wonderfully blue-sky-ed cityscapes with an environmentally friendly amount of trees everywhere.

The Matrix 'inspired' action can be a bit annoying sometimes. We've seen people diving through the air in slow motion will taking out supposedly highly-trained soldiers? And the music is kinda uninspiring. With contributions from Basement Jaxx and Paul Oakenfold one expected it to be a lot better.

When you take the good with the bad, Appleseed still comes out as worthwhile and enjoyable. If your new to Anime then you can forgive the clichés, if your a big fan then you'll be awe-struck by the impressive production values.
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does justice to the source, validates 3D rendering for anime characters, and exceeds expectations
shaidarharan22 January 2005
rating - 10/10 (saw it subbed). I would give it an 11 if I could. After reading a 5.6/10 and watching, the movie far exceeded any expectation I had, that I could have dreamed of. Having read all of the manga and data books, this movie not only captures but adds to them. The 3D style looks better in motion than in screen shots, validating its place in Anime's future (for characters, Ghost in the Shell already displayed the awesome extent to which environments can benefit). The mechanical engineering (just wait until you see the cannons) of EVERYTHING is superlative. The complexity and detail of the city is awe inspiring. Every scene has this attention to detail. And the action? Just watch the beginning of the movie to understand how cool the ride is going to be, because I assure you, it does not let up. Well worth any price of admission.

This is a work of love, a commitment to total quality. I see the score increasing rapidly in the near future.

Thank you Shinji Aramaki, Masamune Shirow (comic)

Haruka Handa (screenplay) & Tsutomu Kamishiro (screenplay)
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Pretty cool
MrVibrating6 August 2006
With nice cel-shaded graphics and fantastic CGI in a nice blend, Appleseed will not disappoint the eye. There is enormous attention to detail, reflections, shading and other small things. Many of the scenes, especially involving the giant city complex, could have worked as art if you froze the frame.

The story is pretty unoriginal though, which is a shame. I won't tell you anything, but it's likely you'll see references from a wild collection of sources. Characters have varying depth, and some felt like they needed a bit of fleshing out. Lip-sync was so-so and the same goes for most of the voices(in Japanese).

Music is cool and futuristic, with a few surprises thrown in(Basement Jaxx? What the?) and fits the scenes nicely. Sound follows the same pedantic attention-to-detail pattern as the animations. The action is very, very cool, even though it's not a pure action fest.

While the storyline doesn't feel too much like Manga, the animation really is. Manga eyes can be bugging, but it was OK. The transformer-esquire mechs where really cool even though they were very similar(then again, I've never watched Transformers).

So, in closing, is this worthwhile? Sure. It's storyline is not so complex you need to scratch your head, like other anime(Akira or Final Fantasy), and the animation is a feast to the eyes. Give it a try.
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The most impressive animè in years
shogun-2023 November 2004
I went to this movie with very high expectations, and after about 30 mins I knew this movie had already delivered.

I won't talk about the story (do a search on google if you want it spoiled) but I can say that the plot is interesting enough to keep the viewers attention. The pace of the movie feels very right, action scenes and slower character building scenes are vow en into each other without any of them feeling forced. Although the movie is not without cliché's, especially in some sentimental parts, they do not ruin the overall experience. I have not read the manga so I cannot comment on if it stays true to the source material.

Technically it's in a league of it's own. The 3d visuals were amazing, even on the low quality cinema I watched it in. The camera swoops in and out of the action and you end up just staring in awe at the screen. Designs and the attention to detail is incredible. What takes getting used to is the cell shading of the characters. Done to mimic 2d animation, the characters are not able to deliver the same amount of personality and emotions as the handrawn ones are. I wonder if it would look better with pure 3d characters ala Squares Advent Children. Sound effects were also excellent, and I thought the industrial techno soundtrack was very fitting.

All in all the most impressive anime movie I have seen so far, that is if it could be seen as an anime? The director was actually present at the screening I attended and he raised this question as well. Seeing as Appleseed was not made and does not look like any traditional anime at all why should it be considered as one? Maybe we are looking at a new genre in animated movies. If so the Appleseed has certainly set the new standards as to how it should be done.
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crutchley7 March 2004
I fought so hard to get tickets to see the World Sneak Preview to Appleseed in London on 4th March 2004 - and the effort paid off. I won a pair in a website competition 2.5 hours before the start of the movie. The event was a media soirée with plenty of media hacks and a few minor celebs swanning around as they dished out free beer and sushi.

Having not seen the original Appleseed I had no concept of the plot or the scenario at all, so i was grateful when the producer gave us an overview lecture (with a flip chart and everything) as it is a little complex.

The second the film started i knew we were witnessing something special. The animation is outstanding. This film has the production values and attention to detail present in films like The Matrix. My jaw hit the floor just as hard with Appleseed as it did with Trinity's opening fight scene in the first Matrix.

The soundtrack is exceptionally well put together with contributions from Basement Jaxx, Paul Okenfold and the awesome Boom Boom Satellites who also performed a live set after the preview.

Often, when you build yourself up too much to see a movie, the reality can do nothing but disappoint. The opposite was true with Appleseed. I went in expecting 10/10... I got 11.

This movie has boldly raised the bar for animation and set a bold new standard by which i believe other animations will be judged in the future. Truly a masterpiece, the highest complements are deserved by everyone involved in this production. Roll on next year's Academy awards!!!
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Visuals that'll blow you alway
keius4 December 2004
This cg/cell style anime is the most incredible i've seen. Most of what I can say has already been mentioned by others that have commented. Suffice it to say, Appleseed is worth watching simply for it's eye goggling effects.

The story is decent but not spectacular and has changed just a bit more that i would've preferred from the original premise of the manga.

I rate this an 8/10 because i did enjoy it thoroughly. The -2 pts is for what someone else mentioned...the too typical clichés. Every dramatic moment is something you've seen pinched from some other overdramatized movie.
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What a mess
pauldanielhenrik25 November 2005
Warning: Spoilers
This movie would have worked so much better if it'd had a director who actually knew how to properly tell a story. The basic idea behind the narrative is actually an interesting one, but the characters and the background to the story are never properly established. It feels like many of the scenes are presented in the wrong order, which necessitates lots of backtracking where the characters basically have to explain what's going on - i.e. lots of boring talk which could have been avoided if the director had just found a way to let the story speak for itself.

The horribly cliché-ridden "emotional" scenes don't really help either. The same goes for some of the action, like the initial scene where Deutan or whatever her name is does the full Matrix spinning-around-in-the-air-in-slow-motion routine. Not new, not exciting. To continue with the complaining I also found 90% of the music absolutely horrible... some sort of crap techno nu-metal equivalent.

All which, to come to my conclusion, is a shame since the animation is at times absolutely stunning. Granted, the close-ups don't always work very well (I wish they'd taken a more traditional approach to the facial animation in-stead of relying so much on motion capture) but some of the action scenes are among the best I've seen. For fans of traditional anime I suppose this animation method is a bit like cheating (they've recorded real actors' movements, translated these to 3D models and then "cartoon shaded" the models) but when it yields results as good as when the landmates (?) attack the bioroids' headquarter it's hard not to see the advantages.

Long live the cyborgs! But if you let them tell a story it would probably look like this.
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Great visuals and sound, but not a good movie
AlainS8 December 2004
This movie astonished me in two ways. First the visuals and sounds are more than breathtaking, but on the other hand I wondered how they can tell the story in such a confusing way. Maybe it was the subtitles, but it just didn't feel right. The storytelling never minded to explain the background a bit more.

The movie reminded me of the Korean anime "Wonderful Days", which also had great visuals but the story just didn't fit seamless.

That said, if you like last generation visual animation, good sound and a lot of action this is *the* movie for you. And the story is not bad, but missing pieces.

Animation: 10/10 Story: 6/10
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Visually attractive, occasionally suspenseful, but derivative, ridiculously exposition-heavy and enough with the overblown melodrama
BrandtSponseller28 June 2005
I should note first that I'm not the biggest anime fan. I've seen a number of anime films and serials, but the genre has never quite clicked with me. If you're a huge anime fan, you might like Appleseed far more than I did.

Not that I hated it. It has some elements that were very successful. The animation is very impressive. One of my past complaints with anime has been that the artistry often looks like cut-rate Saturday morning cartoon fare. None of those low-budget shortcuts are visible here, even if another bothersome, bizarre staple of anime is present--namely that most of the characters look like Caucasians who just stepped out of a Walter Keane painting.

But the animation is all technically sophisticated, highly stylized 3D modeling. It's a bit like a complex video game world, except that the artistry is cranked up to 11. If you're at all a fan of that look, or you like immersing yourself in filmic fantasy worlds, Appleseed is worth a view for the visuals alone. There are all kinds of hip "camera movements". There is a fascinating, regular incorporation of photographic textures and photographic phenomena like explosions, smoke and water. At times, Appleseed looks as much like a computerized version of claymation as it looks like standard animation--the objects and the "people" in the film have that much weight, texture and depth.

But then there's the story. I don't usually believe that derivativeness is a flaw, but here, derivativeness is about all we're given. In terms of tone, and even a lot of very literal references, you'd achieve something like this if you put, say, Blade Runner (1982), Aliens (1986), Terminator I (1984) and II (1991), Star Wars Episodes I (1999) and II (2002), I Robot (2004), and the three Matrix films (1999 and 2003) into a blender and hit "Chop". And the references to other films do not end there. Appleseed director Shinji Aramaki even gives us one character, Briareos (voiced by James Lyon in the English language version), who inexplicably looks like Frank the bunny from Donnie Darko (2001). Of course, as in just about any anime film, there is the constant "Transformers" (1984) aesthetic--that's part of what amounts to a technological fetishism--and there have to be some nods to kaiju (Japanese monster) films.

The actual plot, which was based on manga (Japanese comic books) by Shirow Masamune, concerns a post-apocalyptic society (of course) that has attempted to create a utopia, Olympus (there are a lot of very shallow Greek mythology references). At the beginning, we see Deunan Knute (voiced by Amanada Winn Lee, or "Jennifer Proud", in the English language version) fighting off a bunch of Terminator/Transformer-like robots, Matrix-style. She's captured by a militaristic organization known as "E-SWAT", who take her to Olympus, which she didn't know existed. She learns at Olympus that there is another race of humans, "bioroids", who are genetically engineered clones, designed to "keep the peace". The bioroids cannot reproduce on their own--that was a "safety" feature built into them by humans worried that they'd otherwise take over. There is a Star Wars-styled council of elders (and occasionally congressional meetings right out of Episode II). And of course, there is a rebel faction of humans who are determined to wipe out the bioroids. Deunan ends up in the middle of all of this, partially because she is related to persons who were important in the history of Olympus, but more importantly, because she's an unstoppable, butt-kicking soldier, ala Ripley in Aliens, but given Neo-like powers, after he's had all of the kung-fu and weapons programs downloaded. The plot turns out to be something like a war between the rebel faction and the official government, in a race against time to see who'll survive and how.

As you might expect given a plot like that, Appleseed is a bit heavy on exposition--screenwriters Haruka Handa and Tsutomu Kamishiro have to explain a whole other world, including the intricacies of its politics, social problems, and a lot of technological gobbledy-gook. But you might not expect the exposition to be as heavy as it is. Voice actors frequently have to rattle off very long stretches of explanatory dialogue--this continues throughout the length of the film. They often sound like they're reading, and not much of an effort was made to make the exposition flow naturally in the story. Probably because there's absolutely no way to make such heavy handed stuff flow and not seem like a chore to listen to instead.

But even that wouldn't have to be so bad. I was reluctantly becoming acclimated to convoluted explanations, even if they remained a bit clichéd and hokey. What killed it for me, however, is that the further you go into the film, the more melodramatic it becomes. By the end, every bit of dialogue is delivered as if the fate of the world is resting on characters' feigned, overly serious concern, and annoyingly, they keep saying each other's names at least once every other sentence. I don't think a single one of these characters ever met a sense of humor. That disposition is a hard sell, and it needs far more artistry than a mishmash of genre film conventions in a predictable post-apocalyptic scenario.

Still, even though the story was growing more problematic by the minute, I found myself being slightly wrapped up in the climax. Aramaki is able to build suspense and put viewers on the edge of their seats even if they're annoyed. Imagine what he could do with a good script! I should also briefly comment on the music. Even though the score also tends to be a bit melodramatic and manipulative at times, there are a lot of good songs in the film ranging over various techno/electronica styles. If you're at all into that stuff, don't miss the soundtrack.
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"Appleseed" - The next stage of evolution... animation
dee.reid11 May 2005
Anime' has come a long way from the days of gratuitous bloodshed and borderline pornography that marked its early notoriety here in the United States.

Part of this massive and successful transition into mainstream American cinema has been due to technological breakthroughs in animation, computer digitization, and detailing. Immediately, you think of the films of Hayao Miyazaki, "Ghost in the Shell" (1995), and Katsuhiro Otomo's "Akira" (1988).

"Appleseed," the latest addition to the list of groundbreaking Anime' films in the last 10 years, is yet another skillful advance in the world of Japanese animation.

This film has a plot that's not greatly different from past adventures: a rebel female soldier, Deunan Knute, is captured at the beginning of the movie after a fierce battle in the ruins of a large city. She's flown back to the city of Olympus, a vast metropolis that looks a lot like "Blade Runner" on a better day.

Human beings (grudgingly) coexist with the Bioroids, human androids, who are slowly becoming the majority, already with one serving as the city's prime minister. Bioroids have a limited emotional range (sound familiar?) and cannot reproduce, nor can they experience feelings such as love or anger.

When the Bioroid generation center is attacked, Deunan, a kind and curious Bioroid named Hitomi, and Deunan's cyborg lover Briareos link the attack to a deadly conspiracy involving the (still human) military and the mysterious 7 Elders, who control Olympus' main control center.

If you don't buy the story, then at least "Appleseed" will draw you in by using its lush, beautiful animation and graphics, which are surely the next stage in the evolution of Anime'. The plot is convincing, if not wholly original, and fans of Philip K. Dick may spot some of the scattered references to "Blade Runner."

Certainly a testament to Anime' and animation in general, "Appleseed" should definitely not be missed.

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Funny story behind this review...
A_Different_Drummer29 April 2014
Warning: Spoilers
Well, not funny ha-ha but at least interesting. Your humble reviewer used to review films professionally (back when dinosaurs walked the earth) and also worked in Hollywood for a short term. Talking to an old friend (they are all old at this point) I mentioned that the biggest surprise and pleasure to me at my stage of life was discovering Japanese animation, and I had lately been watching a number of features and series, many in the original Japanese with subs, in fact. The friend asked, what is your favorite? I said, I was not sure. He then asked, which one would you want to see over, if you had a chance? My answer was this film, Appleseed. It is amazing at so many levels. The animation is to die for, especially the eyes. Wow. The story (in spite of the other reviews) is fine, and, as you may discover, a heck of a lot better than the official sequel. And I love the names. Brilliant. If I ever get another dog, I intend to name the animal either Deunan -- which sounds so wonderfully Scottish, it could be the next Mel Gibson movie -- or Briareos, which is one of the few names I can recall that sounds longer than it actually is. As you may have noticed, this is not a traditional review. But it is indeed as review. Astonishing film. I dare you to see it and not marvel at what is coming out of Japan.
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Visually stunning but badly flawed
gordon_mcvey13 April 2006
There is no denying that Appleseed is a striking film to look at with its use of cel-shaded 3D characters, but I had expected a lot more from this movie and was disappointed.

First the imagery, while stunning, had a lot of problems. For me, the biggest problem with it was that while the characters were cel-shaded, the backgrounds has a pseudo-photo-realistic look and so the characters really felt out of place. I would have felt happier with the look of this film if the backgrounds were more in keeping with what you would expect from animated features, ie, hand-drawn backgrounds.

Another problem with the imagery showed up during action scenes. At first I couldn't put my finger on it but eventually I realised that there was no motion blur. The result was fast-moving action was extremely jarring and disorienting to watch. Even a limited amount of motion blue here would have helped greatly.

However, for me the biggest failing was in the execution of the story. Exposition was handled extremely sloppily in my opinion, with vast amounts of information being reeled off in a couple of scenes that threw off the pacing of the whole movie and were just plain boring to watch. I think the story might have flowed better if the same information was given to us in smaller chunks distributed more evenly throughout the film. The fact that the plot relied heavily on things that sounded like unbelievable pseudo-scientific hand-waving didn't help matters much either.

All in all, I'd say go see it for the remarkable CG work, but don't build up expectations of this being a great movie, because it isn't. I couldn't recommend that you buy the DVD of this either, because the bonus material is all in Japanese with only subtitles. An English soundtrack would have made all the difference here.
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Beautiful, But Painfully Cliché
CrassActionHero18 September 2007
Warning: Spoilers

Review: This is the new wave. Motion capture is taking storm and it looks good, but beauty is only skin deep.....

Appleseed is none too different then the usual cliché. You will notice right away that it's beautiful. The first anime I saw that finally used motion capture instead of animation. No question it looks fantastic, but it's ultimately wasted here due to a flat and cliché story.

For example, our hero is the ultimate fighter, has special parents, is significant to our story, and cliché villainy. I would like something original like maybe our hero is a nobody and has no special significance to the story and had worthless or just regular parents and nothing more. The clichés were just too much for me to digest.

Also things get a little to over-dramatic as well. The action is good, but not enough. With the use of motion capture and the stunning visuals, I wanted more action.

The Last Word: It's worth looking at, but that's it. This is otherwise nothing special. The use of motion capture and the visuals are impressive. I would like to see this art used more often. Hopefully next time, we get a good and original story.
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Stunning animation, average story
mollycat1 June 2005
Warning: Spoilers
This movie looks absolutely stunning, no doubt about it. The cg background works well, and the characters' somewhat artificial look fits in well. The chase scene at the beginning is incredibly beautiful with it's shattering statues and slow motion fighting. The story, however, is less impressive. I have never read the manga, but found it hard to believe that it comes from the same person who has created Ghost in the Shell, a story that is far more involving and clever than Appleseed 2004. With the exception of Hitomi, the emotional link between the Bioroids and humans, the characters are truly awful and uninvolving. The love story between Deunan, the main character, and Briareos, her love-interest who has become machine, is neat in theory, but wears thin quickly. He dies, then miraculously is alive again because the amour that he is has shut down before he dies. The reason why and how the dying man Briareos has been confined to this armour is never touched on, and any questions about existence and self are dropped. At the same time the Bioroids, beings who are supposedly without emotion, appear far more human than the main protagonists. This lack of characterisation and development is almost excused by the sheer beauty of the animation, but only almost. As the plot turned more and more into a standard action movie, i felt my attention slipping, until in the end i was so bored that I was almost glad that it was over. It's a shame, because the story has potential, and the animation is perfect. I can't help but think that a director like Mamoru Oshii would have made more out of it. Having said that, Appleseed 2004 looks so stunning that it deserves a watch, and I feel 6/10 is fully justified.
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APPLESEED - overdone computerized animation in anime remake
BrianDanaCamp15 January 2005
I have two major problems with the new anime remake of APPLESEED:

1) The characters' faces all look like porcelain masks or mannequin faces. There's very little movement or detail in them. No facial lines, no bags under the eyes, no cheekbones, no variation in the color on the faces. No movement of the eyes. I've seen much more expressive emotion on the characters' faces in "Pokémon." Sure, some of the characters are supposed to be "bioroids," some kind of human/machine hybrid, but I don't think the original manga artist, Masamune Shirow, meant for them to be completely devoid of expression. And besides, this is true of the human characters in the film as well. Either way, it's kind of hard to get engrossed in characters whose faces are completely blank.

2) The backgrounds and other aspects of the design are way too detailed. You can see distinct textures on every surface. You can see every detail on the power suits and the mecha and the costumes. And on the buildings, highways, streets and cityscapes. The human eye doesn't need all that detail. It's not how we see things. We isolate details when we look out at landscapes. Some things are blurred or shaded or unseen or out of focus. Not here. Every detail is in sharp focus. Piling on so much detail is incredibly distracting. And annoying. It's not beautiful, it's cluttered.

One of the aspects of anime design that has made the work of Japanese animators so consistently interesting from an artistic standpoint is the use of suggestion of detail when budgets prevented them from the kind of fluid animation and detailed backgrounds we'd get in a Disney film, for instance. Some bold lines here, a block of black there, a wash of color here, all tastefully and delicately applied to suggest a more detailed setting. I've seen futuristic cityscapes in black-and-white episodes of the original "Astro Boy" that impress me far more than anything in APPLESEED. It's the quality of the detail, not the quantity. It's called artwork and you can see the human hand at work in every frame. When the Space Battleship Yamato sailed across the screen 30 years ago, you could see an artist's hand at work in every movement of the battleship. The crude character designs were more than acceptable given the way the animators could convey emotion through the eyes and the set of the jaw and the coloring of the cheeks. Simple but creative methods. Nothing like that can be found in the new APPLESEED. The hand of the artist is nowhere evident. The soul of anime is slowly slipping away.
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Lousy scriptwriting
kerangador15 March 2005
The person who did the script for the movie deserves to be shot. I mean you know the rest- beautiful animation, but their eyes are lifeless like Polar Express. The story makes little sense- but its typical convoluted Japanese crap. I wish they could resurrect Akira Kurosawa and get him to do their scripts. But if you like immature naive melodramatic stories, mind blowing graphics that gloss over the flaws, this might be the story for you. If you're going to watch it in the movie- please bring along a pair of earmuffs.

I was very disappointed with this film as this is the 2nd attempt to remake the original - and exceptionally good - manga series into a film.

The movie script comes across as being illogical and full of pretentious dialogue.
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A bad movie, a worse dub
djl27416 January 2005
This movie was never going to be in any sort of wide release, and it was never going to appeal to a mainstream audience, yet Geneon, the distributor and translator decided to release it sporting a new English dub track. And it is wretched. Horrible. The anime industry is in a boom period right now, and the direction it is going to wavering between good, solid, accurate subtitles that leave the original actors who actually care about performance, and bad Disneyfied recordings with sub par actors who ham it up like old 70's cartoons. I would compare these "serious" performances to those found in Waiting for Guffman. Yes, it is that bad. Pile on top of that a terrible script, and you're left with a shell of the original movie.

That aside, the animation did look pretty at times, and I've seen the integration between the 3d and 2d animation praised as some of the best, but it really didn't work well for me. What they did good was try to incorporate some of the artistic style of the characters into the 3d renderings, but I don't think they went far enough and the difference is still too jarring. The characters obviously belong to a different "world" then their backgrounds. This isn't a problem with in movies like Akira or The Incredibles where everything looks like it fits. Instead you're eye is constantly drawn to the difference, not the action.

The story was far too complicated to be told in an hour and a half. It seemed interesting enough, albeit a little overdone filled with established sci-fi cliché's, but something that could sustain my interest for a little while if properly done. Based on a manga though, the movie tries to cram too much information and background into too short a time, something Akira also suffered from. Therefore, when major revelations about the characters are made, or huge plots wrap up, the feeling behind it is one of confusion and pointlessness. One is left to ask why they should even care.

The cinematography was easily the best aspect of the film, some of the shots looking absolutely gorgeous, the animation tablet letting the camera move in some incredible directions. This sadly was limited to the actions scenes, sparsely scattered throughout. The other scenes where mundanely structured and shot, nothing about them pulled to eye to attention.

All these problems coupled together created a pretty bad experience, and the audience I was with agreed, laughing throughout at the film. The only recommendation I can make is that by attending, you support the theatrical release of anime, which can never be a bad thing. But if this isn't a strong opinion you share, skip this film.
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The 'I, Robot' of anime
emouse6 April 2005
This movie is fine to watch if you can put up with Shirow's original work being raped to make a summer Hollywood effects blockbuster. Every intellectual aspect of the movies has been removed and replaced with hokey melodrama. The dense plotting that originally covered two books is twisted into a forced mess.

It is a very pretty movie to watch, and the soundtrack is great. While this adaptation is better than the last try, it's still incredibly bad. Here's hoping that in another 10-15 years it will get a decent treatment, or that the movie will inspire an excellent TV adaptation like Ghost in the Shell did.
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The ultimate expression of Shirow's work
oshram-32 March 2005
Warning: Spoilers
It was more or less Masamune Shirow's amazing comic that introduced me to the world of manga and anime back in the late 80s, and I've held a fond spot for it in my heart since then despite a really weak film back in 1988. An overhaul was long overdue, and I finally managed to get my hands on a copy today.

Appleseed mostly distills the first volume of the comic, following the story of a female soldier named Deunan Knute and her companion, the cyborg Briareos, as they arrive in the futuristic city of Olympus. Olympus is a haven for the bioroids, genetically enhanced humans who have been designed to live together in peace to put an end to mankind's incessant war. But, as with all utopias, something is fouling up the works, and Deunan and Briareos have to figure out what.

It's sort of a misnomer to call this an anime; like the first talking picture, Appleseed is something new entirely. Yes, it is animated, but not in any traditional sense. Most of the CGI graphics look incredibly realistic, and movements and motions are handled in such a realistic way that it feels more like live action than animation. Eyes blink realistically; they narrow and widen very subtly, and even the swaying of hair in the wind feels much more natural than traditional animation. The character movement is also amazingly smooth and subtle, very natural. At times it is was easy to forget you're watching something created on a computer, it is that believable.

The design work is really top notch. While the human characters no longer strictly resemble Masamune Shirow's artwork (a complaint of mine coming into this), they actually look more human, with only slightly exaggerated eyes and normal-sized mouths. All of the mechanized characters are realized flawlessly, from the super-cool all-white battlesuits the police wear to the sinister robots that attack the SWAT headquarters. And the action scenes, well, they're amazing, blow you out of your seat kinetic, so fast you can barely follow the action and yet, thanks to a wonderful directing job by Shinki Aramaki, you never lose track of what's going on (which is more than I can say for Shirow's comic). The end sequence, where several humongous spider-like battle platforms come to life and wreak havoc on the city, is so well done it feels like you're watching it real time on CNN. It's simply amazing.

I can't wait for an official release of this film on DVD (I'm pretty sure I bought a bootleg; the contrast is so high that in one or two scenes all the white washes out completely, and the English subtitles must have been composed by a roomful of monkeys on typewriters; there's no consideration for tense, grammar, or spelling at all); this is simply a beautiful film, and even with the mangled subtitles it feels like they managed the near-impossible feat of distilling Shirow's story into something intelligible. Appleseed makes a nice statement about the belligerence of mankind as well as just offering us pretty pictures and amazing action.

My only qualm, and this is only something you would hear from a reader of the comic, is that Briareos is given a little short shrift in the movie; it's really Deunan's film, where in the comic it's a lot more balanced between the two. But that's a small quibble in the face of the most impressive and evolutionary Japanese animated film since Katsuhiro Otomo's Akira. Appleseed is not only perhaps the ultimate expression of Shirow's vision, it is very possibly the first step toward completely realistic digital film-making, where we won't need flesh and blood actors anymore at all.
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Pretty junk
Knuckle7 August 2005
The 2004 version of Appleseed contains awe-inspiring art and fight choreography, but aside from that, is nothing more than your standard anime shoot-em-up.

In the future, the Earth has been blasted to bits by war, with the city-state of Olympus as the only oasis of civilization in vast sea of urban ruin and debris. Deunan, the movie's heroine, is rescued by agents of Olympus and inducted into their elite law enforcement unit, ESWAT, alongside her former lover, Briareos, who is now a full blown cyborg with barely anything human left in his metal and plastic body. Intrigue involving a power struggle between Olympus' bioroids (cloned servants)and the humans, and Deunan's mysterious role in it all, is what drives this movie to its action packed climax.

The main weak points of this film are its voice acting and dialogue. The English dubs can be grating at times. Yes, I know, always watch it with subtitles, but the original Japanese dialog is only marginally better. Also, as with every other Masamune Shirow inspired movie, the dialogue sucks. In what can only be described as techno-firearms pornography, the characters all seem to possess an irresistible urge to exposit ad nauseum about every bit of equipment they handle.

All in all, it is worth it for the visuals alone. But if you want to watch a movie that explores the question, "what is it to be human?" then may I suggest another Masamune Shirow-inspired movie, "Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence."
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nogodnomasters11 April 2019
Warning: Spoilers
It seems mankind (no emphasis on kind) has done it again and destroyed much of the world. There is a paradise city called Olympus which is run by a group of bioroids who get advice from a computer named Gia. Bioroids are cloned humans who cannot reproduce and have limited emotion. They live among the humans and keep them under control so they don't hurt themselves or each other. Meanwhile there are brutish humans in the military who want to destroy the bioroids.

Deunan is a female human who lives outside the city in a wild zone where humans are fighting humans and they don't know why. She is taken captive by the bioroids and is enlisted to help them. The twist of this movie is that we are tricked into rooting for 1984ish Brave New World. Clean English translation.
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Tweekums5 October 2018
Set in the year 2131 AD after the world has emerged from a global war but not all fighting has stopped. Deunan Knute is still caught up in the fighting until she is plucked from the wasteland and taken to the city of Olympus. This is an apparent Utopia where humanity survives and lives alongside 'Bioroids', sterile clones who need to have their lives regularly extended; they are also far less emotional than humanity. In this city Deunan befriends Hitomi, a bioroid, and is reunited with her former lover, Briareos, who following serious injury is now a cyborg. Olympus isn't quite as peaceful as it appears; there are humans determined to exterminate the bioroids and certain individuals who believe humanity needs to make way for the new race. Deunan will have to choose sides and learn who she can trust if she is to preserve peace in Olympus.

When I picked up this film on DVD I was a little unsure of whether I'd enjoy it; I like traditional 2D anime but was unsure about 3D anime, especially as it is almost fourteen years old now... I needn't have worried about how the film looked; it looks fantastic and the action is very dynamic. The story might not be the most original but it was solid enough and there were some unexpected twists. The character designs are impressive; it is definitely 3D anime not a Japanese attempt to replicate the styles of western 3D animation. The backgrounds are impressive too; it feels like we are in a real city. If you like action packed sci-fi I'd definitely recommend this.

These comments are based on watching the film in Japanese with English subtitles.
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