Appleseed (2004) anime movie review

Well, well, what do we have here? A love story disguised as an action movie, eh? We’ll just see about tha– hmm… It’s not so bad… I guess. My Google-fu tells me there are at least 5 Appleseed movies or anime series out there, all loosely based on Masamune Shirow’s Appleseed manga wot I haven’t read and don’t plan to. This particular one I watched came out in 2004. I quite like the art style, which blends regular anime art with CG. It’s not a flawless mix, but it’s a very interesting effect that works well for a faux-gritty movie like Appleseed.

Story blurbPlucked from the last battlefields of the final war, mercenary Deunan Knute finds herself pressed into duty with the ESWAT, defenders of the Utopian city of Olympus. But serpents beneath the peaceful surface of this apparent Garden of Eden, and new seeds of destruction have already been planted! Now it s up to Deunan and her former lover, the now-cyborg Briareos, to unravel a deadly web of plots that threaten to bring down Olympus from within! 

Pros

– I was worried when they started off with all the technobabble and stuff, but the story is very easy to follow. It could honestly have been set in any kind of world, not necessarily this one.

– Everyone gets a happy ending and the bad guys get what they deserve.

– Apart from Hitomi, all the other voices in the English dub were very well done, so much so that I forgot I was watching a dub after a while, only to be smacked back into reality every time Hitomi opened her little mouth.

– As I said, I liked the art style. The music was good too.

deunanCons

– At almost 2 hours long, it’s a little on the lengthy side. It’s still very interesting, but some parts could have been shortened – like the ultimately pointless war scenes at the very beginning.

– Part of the story seems kinda stupid, like why would humans have a giant tank full of a killer virus just floating above the city? You’d think it would at least occur to someone that hey, maybe we should develop an antidote to this thing just in case, you know?

– Appleseed is a story of love lost and regained and the hope that humanity carries within them, etc etc that sort of thing, so honestly the action felt out of place much of the time. It almost felt like the writers/director had one story they wanted to tell, but then every 15 minutes it would be like “Quick! The audience is falling asleep!” and they would throw in some lengthy action sequence out of desperation.

– Speaking of action scenes, the last one was entirely too long. Once the bad guys had been rumbled and it was obvious that Appleseed is an idealistic kind of movie, the fortresses obviously had no chance of taking down humanity while Deunan was around, so why spend 15 minutes pretending they do? IMO they should have had Deunan face off against the giant robots first, THEN had the showdown with the bad guys, but that’s just me.

Final thoughts

Appleseed will probably disappoint anyone looking for a gritty, futuristic, hardcore kind of action movie. It only pretends to be one, but inside it’s a mushy-wushy I Love You, You Love Me, We’re a Happy Family kind of movie. I liked it, myself, even though the story is rather below-average and contains a number of unexplained points (like if Deunan was there when Dr. Gilliam was killed, why didn’t the killers take her into custody and confiscate everything she possessed, etc). Did I like it enough to watch the sequel (Ex Machina)? Not really, no. But still, it’s a decent enough movie and worth at least a watch if you like romantic action movies.

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