Appleseed Ex Machina (Two-Disc Special Edition) (2007)

Actors: Kara Greenberg
Shinji Aramaki
Animated, Closed-captioned, Collector's Edition, Color, DVD-Video, Limited Edition, Widescreen, NTSC
English, Japanese
1 (U.S. and Canada only)
Number of discs:
DVD Release Date:
March 11, 2008
Run Time:
104 minutes


Description: Based on the popular science fiction manga from renowned creator Shirow Masamune (Ghost in the Shell), Appleseed: Ex Machina follows partners and lovers, Deunan and Briareos. As members of ESWAT, the elite forces serving Olympus, they are deployed wherever trouble strikes. The two fighters find their partnership tested in a new way by the arrival of Tereus who uncannily resembles Briareos before the wartime injuries that led to his becoming a cyborg. At the same time, Olympus finds itself under a stealth attack. Cyborg terrorism, deadly nanotech zealots, and rioting citizens are just some of the threats that Deunan must contend with as she fights to save Olympus and her relationship. -

Appleseed Ex Machina uses 3D computer graphics to replicate a 2D animated look and feel
- whatever will they think of next?

Appleseed Ex Machina is the latest adaptation of Shirow (Ghost in the Shell) Masamune's popular 1980s manga, or rather Japanese comic book. It maintains basic plot elements from the manga, but goes into a different plot direction than the 1988 adaptation and obviously excises a lot of material from the original, lengthy comic book series.

Deunan and Briareos are members of an elite SWAT team who live in an apparently utopian futuristic city society following World War III. Their relationship is never fully clarified in the movie (or the manga for that matter). Are they lovers - or just really, really good friends? The relationship can't be an easy one though. Although Deunan is still 100% "human," Briareos is a cyborg - part machine, part human. In fact he appears more machine than man. After all, he has a mechanical helmet head instead of a flesh and blood one, and one sort of wonders what other human parts were replaced and just how they would impact on any physical relationship.

Such questions are never really raised - or answered for that matter - in Appleseed Ex Machina. After all, it would become an altogether different sort of anime movie if it did. But one still wonders . . .

Even though the 2D layered onto 3D animation process is new to anime, the truth is that Appleseed Ex Machina's plot isn't particularly fresh or new.

Whilst the original manga may have been a breath of fresh air back in the 1980s just as words such as "cyberpunk" and the like were being coined for the first time, the truth is that much in Appleseed Ex Machina are downright anime clichés and plot conventions nowadays - right from the character histrionics and human-controlled giant robots to the all-out apocalyptic ending. The one interesting notion - that of having to work and being in daily contact with your clone - is given somewhat short shrift.

Ex Machina is executive produced by John Woo. It shows in the several Woo-inspired action sequences throughout the movie. However what may seem impressive in a live action context seems pointless in an animated movie like this: it feels like watching someone else play a computer game. Not very enticing.

THE DISCS: The double disc edition seems to be a bit of a cheat. The only extra features they boast is two featurettes running at about 20 minutes each. An entire disc for 40 minutes of running time? The featurettes aren't bad, but they ain't brilliant either. Your call.

WORTH IT? Sometimes the characters move too "stiffly", but at least they don't have those staring junkie eyes of characters in the recent Beowulf. But whatever qualms you have may have about the animation processes and techniques employed, the point is that Ex Machina is such eye candy that it makes the 1988 traditionally animated version look positively antiquated in comparison in the same way that the epic battles in Troy now seem tired when compared to the ones in 300.

RECOMMENDATION:  Appleseed Ex Machina will appeal to anime fans more inured to the genre's plot conventions. Plus the animation - as if they re-filmed Akira in the style of A Scanner Darkly - is more colorful than the "tasteful" grey drabs of the similar Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children. However the endless fight and action scenes get tiresome real soon. Worth a rental at least.



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