Guest Author - Lesley Aeschliman
The Appleseed OVA was released on April 21, 1988, and is loosely based on the Appleseed manga. While the OVA and the manga share the same characters and setting, the storyline for the OVA deviates from the story told in the manga. The OVA was produced by Bandai Visual, and directed by Kazuyoshi Katayama. Manga Entertainment holds the licensing rights for the Appleseed OVA in the United States.
Appleseed takes place at the end of World War 3, in a city called Olympus. Olympus is a city where humans, cyborgs, and bioroids live together. The bioroids are genetically engineered beings created to serve mankind, and they run all the administration of Olympus. Olympus was designed to be a utopian city, but for some, the city is more of a cage.
One of those disenchanted with Olympus is a police officer named Calon Mautholos. He lost faith in Olympus after his wife committed suicide, and Calon believes he has a mission to "free" natural humans from such an unnatural environment. Calon teams up with a terrorist named A.J. Sebastian. A.J. is a foreign cyborg who has a mission to steal a big, flying armored tank and deliver it to a nearby strike force. A.J. and Calon work together to try to disable Gaia, the super computer that runs Olympus, so they can steal the tank.
However, the Olympus ESWAT (Enhanced SWAT team) is trying to stop them. Deunan Knute and her partner, Briareos Hectonchires, are leading the effort to figure out who's behind the plot and stop it. Briareos is a cyborg, while Deunan is skilled in operating her "Landmate" (an exoskeleton armor powersuit).
The OVA runs for a little over an hour, and I think this short runtime is to the production's detriment. When I watched the DVD, I felt the storytelling was rather choppy. The only reason I was able to follow what was going on was the fact that I had seen Shinji Aramaki's 2004 film version of Appleseed. If it hadn't been for that, I would have been rather lost as to what was going on. Personally, I think this OVA version of Appleseed would have been stronger if there was a longer runtime, and that a significant portion of the expanded runtime was spent giving a little more background on the characters. Deunan and Briareos are so undeveloped as characters in the OVA, that it's hard to really care about them. And considering that they are supposed to be the heroes of the story, this isn't a good thing.
The animation isn't too bad in the Appleseed OVA. While it's nothing groundbreaking, it's still a good example of the typical style of animation being used in Japan during the late 1980s. However, I wish a stronger script was used for this production.
The extras were rather unimpressive on this DVD release. The character bios are two page write-ups for the characters that include a picture. This was probably the best extra on the disc, but Calon was not included. Considering he's a major part of the story, I thought this was a major oversight.
The "Japanese production credits" are a credit roll that includes the Japanese voice actors. Considering this is already included at the end of the OVA, this seemed like a waste of an extra. The remaining extras were all advertisements for Manga Entertainment (Manga Video Previews, Merchandise & Catalogue, and Manga DVD Catalogue). There are also Palm Pictures DVD previews and weblinks for Manga Entertainment, Palm Pictures, and Sputnik 7.
Personally, I prefer the 2004 film version of Appleseed over this OVA production. However, if you are a fan of the Appleseed OVA, you need to acquire this release, since it is the only way to own the production on DVD.
In order to write this review, I checked out a copy of this DVD through the King County Library System.