Appleseed XIII Blu Ray Review

Based upon Shirow Masamune's 1980's manga series, Appleseed XIII is a 13 episode series that roughly follows the story line of the manga while taking libertires here and there to appeal to current day audiences. Deunan and Briareos return in an all new adventure by the master of the cyberpunk genre.

In the wake of destruction from a global conflict, the city of Olympus stands as a beacon of hope in a world of chaos. As humanity adopts biological enhancements in attempts to achieve perfection, a terrorist organisation up-rises to prevent what could be the eventual extinction of the human race. Two former LAPD SWAT members join Olympus’ special mech-piloting, anti-terrorism force to take down the leader of the subversive organisation. - Madman

First of all, the negatives. Director Shinji Aramaki (Space Pirate Captain Harlock) delivered two brilliant CGI feature films in the form of 2004's Appleseed and 2007's Appleseed Ex Machina. Both of these films were beautifully animated and beautifully directed. The animation during action sequences especially were wonderfully choreographed and incredibly fluid. The same cannot be said for XIII. That said, this is like comparing apples and oranges. Both of the feature films benefitted from sizeable budgets and studio backing whereas XII is a ONA, an Original Net Animation. That's right, ONA. This is a series specifically created to be consumed over the internet which may explain why the animation, supplied by reasonably unknown studio Jinni's Animation Studio's, is a bit touch and go - investors are less likely to throw money at a project which is entering uncharted waters. While the character design convincingly mimics those originally created by Masamune and even features pencil-like etchings, the animation is at times awkward and always stiff. In fact, it just looks old almost like a series from the early 2000's.

Now that the negatives are out of the way, onto the positives. The story is fantastic and engaging throughout however there are a handful of episodes that don't quite gel with the overall feeling of the series. The relationship between Briareos and Deunan is as solid as ever and is, as it should be, the cement that holds this series together. At the end of the day, the series is fun and that's really the main thing that you could hope for. While the animation and story in an anime series should and generally is the most important element, this series benefits from a brilliant score by composer Conisch who we praised during our review of Mardock Scramble the First Compression. In fact, this synth driven score is even better and more memorable than that delivered in Mardock Scramble.

This series delivers an intriguing look at the world created by Masamune nearly 20 years ago. One of the most dangerous elements accompanying the creation of a science fiction series is that it's instantly dated. The cyberpunk genre absolutely exploded onto the anime scene in the mid 1980's to early 90's and Masamune was one of its forefathers. Unfortunately the animation quality of this series is a real let down but still manages to be saved by an enjoyable and immersive storyline before arriving at being a good but not great series.

Appleseed XIII is available now on DVD and Blu Ray from Madman.

- Ryan


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