Appleseed - A look at things to come

Appleseed is the creation of renowned Manga novelist, Masamune Shirow (Ghost in the Shell, Dominion: Tank Police). First published in 1985, it ran until 1989 and won several awards during that time, including "The Galaxy Award" - prestigious amongst Manga artists. In total, four volumes were published in Japan and subsequently they were translated and published in the U.S. courtesy of Studeo Proteus between 1988 and 1992.

In 1988, Appleseed was turned into a 71 minute OVA (Original Video Animation) feature, directed by Kazuyoshi Katayama. The film tried to explore much of what Shirow’s Manga did but failed to provide anything as gripping due its constraints on both running time and script, although Shiro worked on it. The film had pleasant enough visuals but nothing that was on par with some of the bigger animated features of that era. It was dubbed into English and released in Europe and stateside where it performed reasonably well in video sales. And then things went quiet…until now.

Today sees the long awaited return of the franchise in Japanese cinemas, directed by Shinji Aramaki (Genesis Survivor Gaiarth and creator of Bubblegum Crisis), written by Shirow and produced by Fumihiko Sori, the director of last year’s Ping Pong.

The story takes place in the fictitious city of Olympus, constructed after World War III with the intent to maintain peace. Every part of the city is looked after by artificially created Bioroids – drones that make up half of its population. The goal is for Earth to unify through this created ideal and restore what is left of its humanity. A group of terrorist, freedom fighters are attempting to take over the main city’s computer in order to try and preserve a society that they feel is being run down. It is up to police force officers, Deunan Knute and her ex-lover and now cyborg partner, Briareos Hecatonchries to hunt down and stop these terrorists that are threatening Olympus’ tranquillity.

The film is the first in a proposed trilogy, with part two set to come out next summer in Japan. Part Three should hopefully surface in summer 2006. The first instalment of Appleseed will also be released in America this summer by Geneon.

Appleseed uses the latest in animation technology. The “Trinity Engine” has been developed to allow animators to achieve more fluid animation than has ever been possible, whilst also creating fully 3D images with real physics. This now means that facial features, clothing and muscle definition will be of an incredibly higher level that anything else seen before it. Producer, Fumihiko Sori goes on to say that he believes the film’s realism will help audiences to become more sympathetic towards its characters, although traditional anime never stopped this in my opinion anyway, but such is the enthusiasm of Sori and his crew.

The film boasts an impressive soundtrack, varying in styles from Techno and Drum ‘n’ Bass to classical. Heading up the soundtrack are Boom Boom Satellites with four exclusive tunes, including the brilliant “Dive For You”. Other notable names are Basement Jaxx with their hit from last year, “Good Luck”. Classical composer, Ryuichi Sakamoto and dance master, Paul Oakenfold also take part in putting some of their own trademarks in to the mix.

Appleseed marks a new era in animation, along with this year's Ghost in the Shell: Innocence. Visually stunning and with a booming score and script re-written by its creator, Masamune Shirow to fit more in tone with his original Manga. Fans wait impatiently for it’s world-wide release and at this point it is looking like a feature that can match the sheer brilliance of other noted ‘classics’ such as Akira and Ghost in the Shell.

To say that expectations are high would be an understatement.

To see the “Trinity Engine” in action for yourself be sure to check out the Official Website which offers Quicktime VR demonstrations and better yet, trailers as linked to below:

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