First it’s important to note that this anime has an important manga background which could be useful for those of you who have a hard time understanding or taking interest in this anime. For the others, reading the manga isn’t necessary (even if a truly recommend you to read it : it’s really awesome). In any case: this anime is better than the two movies. It’s not like it already is deeper than the best parts of the 2004 movie, but this anime is more focused on the relationship between Deunan and Buriarios than the two movies combined. I truly think that for an anime to be interesting, it is necessary to have these kind of info on the main characters. Appleseed XIII is a 2011 Japanese CGI anime adaptation of Masamune Shirow’s science fiction manga series Appleseed. Composed of 13 episodes, the series retold the exploits of ES.W.A.T. member Deunan and her cyborg partner Briareos.
The characters draw a lot of attention to their mouths, which are impressively lip-synced, but that’s also a major source of distraction since the rest of the facial animation is flat and emotionally dead. Additionally, the lack of motion blur makes character movement seem jerky and unnatural. This may also be the result of a lower frame rate during character driven scenes, since the movement in the action scenes fares much better. The landmates look great, but there’s not as much mecha as you would expect from the series. There’s not as much socio-political intrigue, either, but that might be due to the condensed script. The action scenes aren’t particularly exciting or memorable, which is a shame, and the whole thing feels like an experimental film. What’s most striking is the visual style, which abandons the cel-shaded look of the previous two films in favor of a more stylized video game aesthetic. The character designs are very close to Shirow’s original designs, and the animation rendering employs an interesting hand-drawn watercolor texture. Briareos looks absolutely stunning, like a drawing come to life.
Unfortunately, Deunan and the other human characters don’t look so great, and I can’t even tell you why. There’s just something a bit unsettling about them, and Deunan in particular looks overly plastic and waxy. It’s almost as if virtual idol Yuki Terai were in the starring role. The color palette is also heavy on the pastel side, which doesn’t really fit the environment or the story. Masamune Shirow’s Appleseed manga is a good story as are most Shirow stories (Ghost in the Shell, Dominion Tank Police, Ghosthound, etc) but for some reason the anime adaptations always seem to fall short. The original OVA series aside, it always seems to end up as one big CGI action explosion fests, almost completely ignoring that at the core of it all, Appleseed is essentially one big romance story.
Here’s the thing with Appleseed XIII. I had hoped to gather several key points (good or bad) and go over them. What ended up happening was that I found one good point, one bad point, and a plethora of things that seemed…weird. The action scenes aren’t particularly exciting or memorable, which is a shame, and the whole thing feels like an experimental film. This may be the future of anime, but I don’t think it’s ready for prime time yet. The special features are pretty awesome as well, just like the series itself. There are two audio track for two episodes. Episode #7 features Mike McFarland, Ian Sinclair and Monica Rial, which is a complete blast to listen to and adds a lot to the episode itself. The second is with Episode #12, which features Colleen Clinkenbeard and David Matrenga, also very informative and a must listen for fans. Thumbs in the middle.