December 16, 2014 at 4:01 am (4 Heads, Appleseed) (, , , , , , , , , )

Appleseed – 1988 – Japan

Following World War III, Earth is a wasteland aside from the city of Olympus. Run by a supercomputer called Gaia, Olympus is a utopia inhabited by humans, cyborgs, and bioroids (bioengineered robots). SWAT team members Dunan (a human woman) and Bularios (a cyborg man) are on a mission to eliminate terrorists intent on destroying Gaia. With guns, mecha, and moxie, the pair bust perps and cause collateral damage.

Appleseed is adapted from a Japanese comic by Masamune Shirow. The comic was animated again in 2004. Appleseed aspires to be speculative. Subjects such as artificial intelligence and the rights of artificial life are peripherally discussed, but the focus is action and destruction. Actually, much of Olympus’s technology and culture is laughably dated (i.e. fax machines and drive-in diners with roller skating waitresses).

Japanese animation of this era often emphasizes style over substance. Appleseed has little of either. The characters and technology look plain, and the animation is stiff. The people are rendered in cartoonish style but lack expressiveness. The dubbed dialogue also overuses swearing to unintentional comedic effect.

Appleseed’s most intriguing aspect is the romantic tension between Dunan and her partner Bularios. Bularios is a giant whose robotic head is a cluster of lenses and antennas without any human features. The viewer is forced to wonder about a world where their union is possible. Too bad their relationship is barely developed.

Rating: 4/10 Shrunken Heads. Is the title Appleseed some sort of metaphor? I don’t know.


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