Written by: Michael Den Boer on September 22nd, 2005
Theatrical Release Date: Japan, April 17th, 2004
Director: Shinji Aramaki
Writers: Haruka Handa, Tsutomu Kamishiro
Cast: Ai Kobayashi, Jûrôta Kosugi, Yuki Matsuoka
DVD released: September 19th, 2005
Approximate running time: 105 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Sound: DTS & Dolby Digital 5.1
DVD Release: Optimum
Region Coding: Region 2 PAL (UK)
Retail Price: £19.99
After a third world war pushes mankind near extinction a utopian society was created and called Olympus. Deunan Knute one day while fighting cyborg’s in an blown out wasteland is kidnapped by a group of soldiers known as ESWAT who take her to the city of Olympus. Deunan soon finds out that Olympus is not the utopia is pretends to be as half of the population is made of Bioroids genetically engineered species created to protect the human race and the other half of the city is mostly made up of human military who despise the existence of the Bioroids. These renegade humans plot to destroy the Bioroids while a council of Bioroid elders concoct their own devious plan to eliminate mankind once and for all. After a terrorist attack destroys the only way in which the Bioriods can regenerate life they are forced to look for the Appleseed data which allows their reproductive organs to work again. Will Deunan Knute find the Appleseed data and help save the Bioroids or will she be betrayed by someone close to her?
Appleseed was created by Shirow Masamune who also created the hugely popular anime Ghost in the Shell. There are a few similarities between the two like both featuring tough as nails female leads whose combat skills rival those of their male counterparts and then some. The animation if first rate as it seamlessly at times looks like live action photography. Everything in the film has been draw with the utmost delicacy and no building or any object in the background looks the same. They obviously put a lot of time and effect into every frame. This film and its compositions are so beautifully composed that each one could be framed like works of art. Part of Appleseed charm is its limitless imagination on the part of its creator’s who push the envelope of the anime format through out the film. The complex plot is riveting while the characters could have been more fleshed out. The movie moves at a break neck pace and even though most of the time is spent focusing on high octane action sequences instead of more background on the various characters, still there is enough interesting things going on that you will be hard pressed to find a dull moment.
Optimum Asia presents Applessed in an anamorphic widescreen that preserves the films original 1.78:1 aspect ratio. The colors look nicely saturated and they never bleed into each other. Flesh tones look healthy and black levels look strong as details look sharp through out. There are no problems with artifacts or compression and edge enhancement is kept to a minimum. This transfer even though it is interlaced the image remains stable through out with a few minor instances of blurring/ghosting. This release comes with three audio options the films original Korean language track presented in a Dolby Digital 5.1 and DTS and a Dolby Digital 5.1English dubbed language track. All three tracks are is great shape as dialog is always crystal clear and easy to understand. There are no problems with hiss, distortion or any other sound defect. The music and effects sound evenly mixed as they never drown out the other. The Japanese language DTS mix sounds the best of the three included. The English dubbed track is surprisingly good as they voice actors used fit perfectly with each character. Removable English subtitles that are easy to read and follow have been included.
The extras for this release are spread of two DVD’s with the only extra on the 1st disk which includes the movie is an audio commentary with Shinji Aramaki and Fumihiko Sori. The audio commentary mostly consists of them discussing each scene as they unfold and other aspects that went into making them film. The bulk of the extras appear on 2nd disk and they include the films original trailer as well as trailers for other Optimum Asia releases. Other extras include an image archive and profiles for the cast & crew. Rounding out the extras is a thirty five minute featurette titled “The Birth of 3D Live Anime” which gives a detailed overview of the 3D Live Anime process. This DVD release is package in a limited collector’s edition steel tin. Optimum Asia has put together another amazing release that not only shows off the film to its fullest it comes with several informative extras. Despite its one dimensional characters Appleseed is a visual feast for the eyes that raises the bar with its cutting edge animation and its mind blowing action set pieces, highly recommended.
For more information about Appleseed and other titles released by Optimum visit their website.