Guest Author - Lesley Aeschliman
Appleseed Ex Machina is the sequel to the 2004 Appleseed film that was directed by Shinji Aramaki. Appleseed Ex Machina, which is also directed by Shinji Aramaki, was released to Japanese theaters on October 20, 2007. The film was released on DVD in the United States on March 11, 2008. Warner Home Video holds the U.S. distribution rights to the film.
Appleseed Ex Machina is set in the year 2133. The film opens with Deunan and Briareos being deployed with E.S.W.A.T. to save E.U. officials who were taken hostage by cyborgs. Deunan subdues the cyborgs and secures the hostages as other members of E.S.W.A.T. arrive. She follows some cyborgs into another room when Briareos arrives as backup. The two of them kill or mortally injure the cyborgs. When Briareos tries to interrogate one of the mortally wounded cyborgs, it becomes a countdown to detonation. Briareos grabs Deunan and jumps out of the building right before the explosion. Unfortunately, Briareos is injured and is taken to the hospital.
On her day off, Deunan intercepts a report about a construction Landmate that is on a rampage. She goes to help take care of the problem, and she is able to disable the Landmate with the killswitch. She is joined by other members of E.S.W.A.T. as she finishes, and she sees a new member who looks eerily like Briareos before he became a cyborg. The new arrival is introduced to Deunan as Tereus, a bioroid to be Deunanís new partner. Deunan goes to complain to Nike, Athena' advisor, and finds out that Tereus is a new generation of combat bioroid based on Briareos' DNA. E.S.W.A.T. wants Deunan to evaluate him. After leaving her meeting with Nike, Deunan runs into Hitomi. As the two go to visit Briareos in the hospital, Hitomi tells Deunan about a new popular device called a Connexus. After Briareos is discharged from the hospital, he is assigned a new partner named Aeacus. Aeacus is part cyborg, and it turns out he has a Connexus.
An international conference takes place in Olympus concerning the idea of putting all of the nations' satellites under Olympus' control. There is an attack on the area during the conference, and it is discovered that humans are joining the cyborgs in the rioting and fighting. Aeacus also betrays E.S.W.A.T., and is killed. The rest of the film shows Deunan and the others trying to find out what is causing the cyborgs and humans to riot. In the process of their investigation, Briareos is affected. Is there anything Deunan can do to save Briareos?
The languages menu for the Appleseed Ex Machina DVD is a little on the frustrating side. It is done in such a way that the language option for each country is written in that respective country's language. Unfortunately, this means that the Japanese and Chinese options are written with the Japanese and Chinese characters. If you want to choose either of those as a language option, you have to have some familiarity with the written characters. Also, after you choose the language, you are automatically returned to the main menu. In order to indicate that you want subtitles, you have to return to the languages menu and choose the subtitles.
The regular release of Appleseed Ex Machina also has two short documentaries on it. The first is "Team Up: John Woo and Shinji Aramaki." This runs for about 16-and-a-half minutes, and through interviews with Shinji Aramaki, crew members, and anime journalists, you find out what each of these individuals brought to Appleseed Ex Machina. The other documentary is "Revolution: Animating Ex Machina." This runs for about 18-and-a-half minutes, and it talks about how the animation was done for the film, and it also delves a little bit into the English dubbing for the project. The trailers feature only includes two anime-related trailers (both of which are for the live-action version of Speed Racer). There is also an audio commentary.
There was also a two-disc special edition version released for Appleseed Ex Machina. The second disc includes two documentaries. The first is "The Appleseed Chronicles." It runs for about 20 minutes, and goes into the history of the Appleseed manga. Personally, I was a little disappointed that this feature never touched on the 1988 OVA version of Appleseed or the 2004 Appleseed film directed by Shinji Aramaki. The other documentary is "East Meets West," and it runs for about 18-and-a-half minutes. This feature talks about how anime crossed over into the west, and how various terms and ideas involved with anime have been cross-pollinated between the Japanese and American cultures.
In my opinion, Appleseed Ex Machina was a strong follow-up to the Appleseed film. The computer animation used in this film is even better than in the first film, and there are some shots and sequences where you truly feel like you're watching a live-action film.
Appleseed Ex Machina is a PG-13 rated film. It's a violent film, so I really wouldn't recommend it for young children. However, if you're a fan of the first Appleseed movie, you wonít be disappointed by Appleseed Ex Machina. It's a DVD that should be in the anime library of anyone who considers themselves a fan of Appleseed.
In order to write this review, I checked out a copy of the DVD through the King County Library System.