Violence, nudity, terrorism and swearing are not the usual cartoon fare, but with Appleseed
we find ourselves firmly in the cyberpunk territory of Manga cinema. Based on the comic series by Masamune Shirow, the film's story takes place in a post-World War III future, in particular within the mega city of Olympus. With the city administered by the Biodroids (a race of perfect half-human, half-robot hybrids), there begins a human resistance to a society that offers little in the way of real freedoms. As with most of the Manga genre, the deceptively simple animation (reminiscent of Pokemon
) conceal more than a few complex issues. Appleseed
proves to be a thought provoking, if a little confusing, examination of the "one man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter" argument, particularly as it somewhat blurs the moral borders by instilling both sides in the conflict with a degree of sympathy. Definitely one for Manga fans, but also recommended for SF buffs and those curious to try something a little different.
On the DVD: Appleseed on disc has various language options, with the possibility of watching the film in either the original Japanese or dubbed English. The picture is bright and clear, as is the soundtrack. Highly recommended is the audio commentary from voice actress Larissa Murray and Manga expert Jonathon Clements, which not only fills in many of the gaps left by Shirow's original film but also provides an invaluable and often humorous insight into the genre as a whole. --Phil Udell