Anime Review: Appleseed XIII Episode 1

Anime Review:
Appleseed XIII Episode 1

What this is about: Watching all of the anime shows so you don’t have to! — I’m taking a look at the first episode of every show from the Spring 2011 anime season that has been subtitled, and giving it a thumbs-up or thumbs-down. For more information about me and my reviews, click here.

Series Premise: In a war-torn future where most of civilization has fallen into ruin, the utopian city of Olympus stands as a beacon of light, run by genetically-engineered Bioroids for the benefit of humanity. A former SWAT member Deunan Knute and her cyborg partner/lover Briareos are new members of Olympus’ ESWAT team, protecting the city from threats. Based on the 1985 manga series by Masamune Shirow, this is a new CGI-animated series more closely based on the original story than recent animated ventures. The first episode premiered on June 3, 2011, subtitled second and future episodes are uncertain.

Click on the thumbnails below to view the picture in full size in a new window:

ep. tl;dr review: Deunan fights terrorists and cyborgs in sci-fi future world; Everything’s about the selfish and self-absorbed Deunan.

Episode Summary: In the 22nd century, most of the planet has been ravaged by endless wars. Except for the city of Olympus, a bastion of technology operated by Bioroids, genetically selected and engineered human clones for the benefit of the human residents of the city. After spending years in the wastelands, Deunan Knute and her cyborg partner Briareos have joined the elite ESWAT military unit, protecting Olympus from threats. Now they are coming up against the terrorist organization the Human Liberation Front in a military raid, and discover their leader, who has been missing for twenty years, has re-emerged from the shadows. But Deunan is unwilling to trust anyone except Briareos, unsure of her relationship and her future.

My Reaction: Hey, it’s Appleseed, one of the first manga series I read a couple decades ago. Also one of Masamume Shirow’s (Ghost in the Shell) first works…and also incomplete. I haven’t read the comics in at least a decade, but supposedly this anime series is a much closer re-telling of the original story (or at least “re-imagining”) compared to the more recent Appleseed movies. I recall seeing the first movie in the theaters about a decade ago and left it somewhat disappointed at the clunky computer generated animation and the messy story that was not really faithful to original. So, along comes this new series, following the aborted Appleseed: Genesis that never got off the ground in 2008. I was of mixed opinions, happy to see new Appleseed yet dreading the concept of computer generated animation, which I’ve never been a fan (to say the least).

After viewing the first episode (the only one available right now), I still don’t like the computer animation bits, but at least it’s not as fakey-stiff/inflexible as some of the more amateur efforts I’ve seen before. This time around there was more of a melding of the 3-D artwork and 2-D shading, which worked well when humans were not involved. Given that there’s so much shiny mecha in Appleseed, that was a good thing — but fell apart whenever actual flesh or human faces took the stage. Looks like we are still a very long way off from when 3-D human animation can hold a candle to the expressiveness of standard animation techniques. In this case it was so non-human that it didn’t even reach the point where the uncanny valley was a concern.

As for the story itself – crikey, I don’t recall Deunan being such a cocksure ass. I knew she was generally full of herself and overconfident to the point of being dangerous, but they really played that up, as well as her complete inability to trust anyone…except for her mechanical lover. Basically, she’s really annoying to watch. And they really lay the symbolism on really, really, really thick with the extended retrospective scenes with the ancient artwork and statues. It’s been so long since I read the manga I can’t tell how close this is to the original story, but they have the setting down pretty pat.

Still on the fence about the “new, improved” Appleseed, mixed opinions about the story, mixed opinions about the animation as well.

The verdict:


  • Videos and Previews:
  • Additional Info Resources:
  • Official United States Licensing Information:
    • Currently no plans, but previous Appleseed movies have been released on DVD.
  • A Sampling of the Blog-Roll of Reviews:
    • “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.” – Metanorn
    • “This episode was very sappy. I mean, I wouldn’t be surprised if Deunan was on her period for the first half of this episode. In terms of the graphics: the faces look as weird as most other 3D series: it’s the botox-faces syndrome, but at least they’re moved nicely. Potential: 80%” – Star Crossed Anime Blog
    • “The episode is quite a mess, they jump between the past and present at will and without warning as they try and how things came to be but at the same time they are introducing characters as well as doing a bit of character development on the main two. Basically they are just trying to do too much, hell they even threw some fanservice in which was rather random.” – Bokutachi no Blog
    • “This is a seriously flawed series, with more bad points than good ones. There is much better science fiction of this ilk out there, with more likeable characters, better animation, and more interesting futuristic settings than this series. I could only recommend this for Shirow completists.”> – Drawn Into Life
    • “Appleseed XIII is marred by haphazard storytelling with little plot or character establishment. The visuals attempt to incorporate the traditional hand-painted cel look and pen-and-ink manga style illustration with contemporary CG. But the result is surprisingly crude. The character rendering and animation is, unfortunately, rudimentary at best. They just look, move and feel too mechanical. Appleseed XIII will need more than just a few actions scenes and a reliance on fans’ nostalgia to save the day. At this point, it’s looking thoroughly forgettable. Grade: 2.5/5.” – No Name Anime Blog
    • “While I’m on the topic, this incarnation of Deunan cries a lot. I counted at least two times in the present and several more in flash back mode…But let it be known that the original Deunan would never cry as much in such a short span of time. She’d either pout, get visibly angry, or go into 80′s moe mode, and that’s only when she’s not busy kicking ass…Everyone was less…how do I say it? Overtly emotional? Did they choose to completely rewrite the characters or something?” – Anime New Modality

SPRING 2011 ROUND ONE RESULTS!

  • First Episodes from the Spring 2011 Season receiving a thumbs-up: Steins;Gate, Deadman Wonderland, Hanasaku Iroha, Dog Days, Moshidora, Ano Hi Mita Hana no Namae o Bokutachi wa Mada Shiranai, Tiger and Bunny, Fireball Charming, Denpa Onna to Seishun Otoko, A Channel, Sengoku Otome: Time Paradox, Nichijou, Yondemasu-yo Azazel-san, C – The Money of Soul and Possibility Control, X-Men, Blue Exorcist, Kaiji Season 2, Hyouge Mono, Showa Monogatari, Detective Conan OVA 11: A Secret Order from London, Kung Fu Cooking Girls, Fujilog, Appleseed XIII
  • First Episodes from the Spring 2011 Season receiving a thumbs-down: Sket Dance, Softenni, Happy Kappi, Astarotte’s Toy, Dororon Enma-kun Meeramera, Inazuma Eleven Go, Hidan no Aria, Suzy’s Zoo Daisuki Witzy, Seikon no Qwaser Season 2, The World God Only Knows Season 2, Toriko, Maria Holic Alive, 30-sai no Hoken Taiiku, Oretachi ni Tsubasa wa Nai, Pretty Rhythm Aurora Dream, Fairy Tail OVA, Plastic Nee-san, Yu-Gi-Oh: Zexal, Nana to Kaoru OVA, Shukufuku no Campanella OVA, Gintama, Tono to Issho: Gantai no Yabou, Hen Zemi, Hoshizora e Kakaru Hashi, Honto ni Atta Reibai Sensei, Senjou no Valkyria 3, Seitokai Yakuindomo OVA, Amagami SS OVA, Katte ni Kaizou, Digimon Xros Wars Season 2, Seibu Tetsudou Ekiin Tako-chan, Highschool of the Dead OVA, Panty and Stocking with Garterbelt OVA
  • Coming up next: Asobi ni Iku yo OVA…and then it’s time for the Spring 2011 Round One Wrap-Up, followed by the Summer 2011 Season Preview!

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2 Responses to Anime Review: Appleseed XIII Episode 1

  1. Pingback: Anime Review: Recap of the Spring 2011 Season | This Euphoria!

  2. Pingback: Anime Review: Appleseed XIII Episode 2 | This Euphoria!

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