The End of Eden
Yo! It seems like we’ve been waiting sometime for this one to come out. There has been a preview stream since I believe June, but today we have a nice, high-def quality rip of the first episode to examine what I would call Appleseed XIII’s main component, which is the animation.
Rock ’em and Sock ’em
We start off with a scene of Deunan Knute sitting underneath the moonlight (shaped into a cross by the destruction of the ceiling). Briareos brings her an uncontaminated ration and the “couple” talk about their idea of Eden.
We’re thrown right into the middle of an ES.W.A.T. operation as a faction of the Human Liberation Front has taken some hostages and is asking for certain prisoners to be freed. After letting police start the mission off, 2 terrorist Landmates bust out of a building and Deunan chases after them. After shooting one of them into a building, Deunan chases another one ascending past an onlooking Dia Cadence. Deunan successfully shoots it down, but a piece of the Landmate is seen falling toward Dia. Briareos is able to jump in and save her by catching the piece.
Athena and her assistant are going over some data that relates to the Argonauts, specifically a location that can be used as a terrorist hideout. Athena’s mention of what has come of the Argonauts implies that they were a very strong power back in the day and have likely fallen on tough times.
The show’s more symbolic imagery
In a flashback scene, Briareos explains some about the origins of Deunan: how she has African blood and that her mother was killed for a racial difference and how her father trained her in combat. Deunan seems unsatisfied by all of this and is just looking for a way out, looking for an “Eden”. In the current time, Briareos is trying to explain to rookie Deunan about the case from earlier and how she should have more faith in her partners. She says she only trusts him, which leads him to suggest quitting ES.W.A.T. if that’s her attitude. Upset, she hits him in the head with her helmet.
After having that fight with Briareos, Deunan decides to get drunk at a bar. She makes her way to Hitomi’s house and falls down and opens the door. Dia approaches her, and Hitomi steps in and introduces Dia as a bioroid as Deunan vents about her “dork” buddy. Briareos comes a bit later and picks up his passed-out love interest. After a flashback scene showing the moment where it’s realized that Briareos is bound to his helmet, Deunan wakes up.
Somebody’s been celebrating the recent birthdays at Metanorn
There’s a potential black market trade that will take place, thus ES.W.A.T. will step in to prevent it from happening. After catching some goons peeing on the premises, they break into the facility and find the Poseidon’s chief and inform him that his immunity is now suspended. While there, one of the guys notices Professer Leon, a worldwide wanted criminal. As they slowly approach Leon, another Hecaton-Kayle Landmate approaches, knocks out Briareos and takes both the Chief and Leon with it. Deunan chases after it, and eventually the Landmate concedes the Chief and keeps Leon for itself. Afterwards, the guy in the Landmate explains to Leon his importance toward their future. While that conversation is happening, Deunan wonders if all of this really is their Eden.
Now which one of these guys is Richard Ames?
Love Athena’s hair color and lighting in this scene
Almost literally piercing the heavens
Pull over, Briareos. She’s looking a little queasy there.
When not busting criminals, Deunan does breakdancing door-to-door
The feeding ramp is polished to a mirror sheen. The slide’s been reinforced. And the interlock with the frame is tightened for added precision. The sight system is original, too. The thumb safety is extended to make it easier on the finger. A long-type trigger with non-slip grooves… nearly every part of this gun has been expertly crafted and customized.
You’re already laughing at this. I need not add a funny punchline to it.
Appleseed is a really unusual anime property to me. It’s been around since the 80’s as a manga and then an OVA was made for it back in 1988. Then we went another 16 years before it got a story-unrelated release in 2004 as a CGI film and later a sequel, and now we’re getting a 13-episode series that’s alleged to follow Shirow Masamune’s manga much more closely (prime example being Hitomi’s appearance). I loved the 2004 movie and enjoyed at least the animation style of Ex Machina, and always would’ve liked a TV series of whatever length. One concern about a TV series is that I feel every review I’ve ever read of the movies is that, though basic on the plot points, Appleseed is a good watch and fun and action-packed, etc. The question is whether it can take the fun of the movies and spread it into a 13-episode series. Problem with that is, wind is already being taken out of sails because of the Gekijou Remixes that this series is gonna get apparently; 2 parts will comprise scenes from the TV series into different films.
Appleseed seems to have gone thru the reinvention process many times, whether Deunan Knute has a different seiyuu each time (currently Maaya Sakamoto), or different people putting their influences into the franchise, i.e. John Woo producing Ex Machina. With more of a focus toward Masamune’s source material and having TV episodes to flesh out plot points, we can already see from the symbolic imagery posted above or in the OP/ED sequences and in all of the statues that make up Olympus’ knife monument that there’s something more here than just a girl who loves a guy that must wear a cyborg suit now.
The animation is this show’s biggest topic of discussion in my opine. We know it’s gonna have action, and with that and the use of CGI, it better look good. Well, here… I’m not 100% sure about it. In the 2004 movie, it went for a cel-shading style and looks rather similar to something you might see used in an anime-based video game today or a couple years back. In Appleseed XIII, it looks somewhat similar to the movie, but there is a 3D/2D mix with a use of pen strokes on characters that try and make it look hand-drawn. It looks cool in some spots and looks kinda bad in others. The action sequences and scenery look really good, and when it uses more of the dark, blue and gray tones, it’s cool. Sometimes the backdrops look good (like Deunan and Briareos talking about the first mission), other times it looks bad (drunk at Hitomi’s home). When I first saw the stream, I was horrified. Watching an HD version the first time, I was very meh toward it. Rewatching to collect screencaps was when I started to find positive things to say about the animation style. I don’t think it’s great and can be improved upon, so I can at the very least give it an E for effort.
The music in the first episode follows what I’m familiar with from Appleseed, techno music used in action sequences. However, it is really bland and unexciting for the action going on. There were guys like Paul Oakenfold and the Boom Boom Satellites involved in the movies and I really liked it. One can assume the budget isn’t anywhere near that of the movies, but still, what music director Youta Tsuruoka and Cornisch have provided here just isn’t all that good in my opinion.
I feel like I’ve gone through many emotions toward this first episode. I went from being excited in our Summer Preview to being disgusted, then wanting to pretend that the 2004 movie was all there was to be seen of Appleseed, and now to where I currently stand, which is more optimistic that the animation will show signs of improvement along the way and that Appleseed can be a good TV series.