I hardly ever watch anime because it always seems like there’s so much to keep up with. From an outsider’s perspective, it seems that nearly all of the top anime productions are based on entire series that would take hours and hours to try to catch up on. I simply don’t have that kind of time, so as a result, I usually don’t even bother with the genre.
Therefore, you can probably imagine my apprehension when I recently received a copy of the brand-new Appleseed Ex Machina DVD to review. First of all, this film is based on a manga that I’ve never even heard of, let alone read, and second, this is a sequel to a 2004 film that I never saw.
Would I be able to follow the action of this film without knowing what happened in the first movie? Would I care about characters that I’d never spent time with before? Would I be able to appreciate all the nuances make anime so wildly popular with legions of fans? These were the questions I asked myself as I popped the DVD in for my first viewing.
Plot summary (with possible spoilers): The film takes place in the year 2133, after half of the world’s population has been killed off during a massive non-nuclear war. The major metropolis is a city called Olympus, which is described as something of a Utopia of the time.
Business as usual in Olympus is disrupted when mobs of citizens suddenly begin acting very strangely. They walk around in masses, disobey orders from the police, and generally appear to be more like zombies than humans.
That’s when the ESWAT team — an elite police force charged with keeping life in Olympus as Utopian as possible — swings into action. Two of the most talented officers on the force are a human named Deunan and her cyborg partner Briareos (who was apparently human at one point, but was converted into a cyborg after a major injury), but their dynamic is being threatened by the introduction of a new partner for Deunan. The new guy is a biroid (half human, half cyborg, I think) named Tereus, whose face was created in Briareos’ human image.
Deunan doesn’t like the arrangement one bit, but Tereus soon proves himself worthy in battle, so Deunan has no choice but to accept him. The ESWAT team’s investigation eventually leads them to uncover the source of the zombie-like mutations: the latest multimedia device that a majority of the humans are using is actually transmitting an electronic virus causing them to behave differently.
The rest of the film then deals with ESWAT’s attempts to locate and defeat the terrorists causing disruption in Olympus life. I think there was a conspiracy and some double-crossing involved, but honestly, I had a lot of trouble following that part of the story since I wasn’t familiar with the characters.
My Reaction: I thought Appleseed Ex Machina was fairly interesting even though I wasn’t familiar with the series at all. The lead character Deunan was pretty cool, which helped a lot with the enjoyment factor. I like take-charge female leads, and Deunan certainly fit into that mold. Plus, she rode a motorcycle, so she got some bonus points right there!
I’m afraid I didn’t understand the significance of Tereus joining the team as Deunan’s new partner. I mean, I realize she and Briareos had a history and everything, but since I didn’t see the first film, I had no idea what that part was all about.
Similarly, the whole conspiracy plot went right over my head. I tried to pay attention to everything that was going on, but it was very difficult to keep the characters straight, especially since the villains weren’t on screen very long.
If I had to do it all again, I would definitely invest a couple extra hours of time to watch the first Appleseed film before starting in on Appleseed Ex Machina. That’s really the only way to understand everything that was going on in the sequel, in my opinion. Appleseed Ex Machina certainly seems worth the time for those of you who have seen the first film, so I still recommend checking it out! I give it 3 stars out of 5.