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Appleseed XIII: Complete Series (a J!-ENT Anime Blu-ray Disc Review)

May 31, 2013 by  



appleseedxiii

“Appleseed XIII” was a fascinating and entertaining anime series, especially for those who enjoyed the previous OVA or animated “Appleseed”  films.  The TV series was an interesting look into the background of the protagonists Deunan and Briareos and their earlier relationship as a couple and members of E.S.W.A.T.  An action-packed anime series with an emotional touch, “Appleseed XIII” is recommended!

Images courtesy of © 2013 FUNimation. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: Appleseed XIII: Complete Series

FILM RELEASE: 2011

DURATION: Episodes 1-13 (390 Minutes)

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (1:85:1 Aspect Ratio), Audio: English and Japanese 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, French 5.1 Dolby Digital, Subtitles: English, English SDH and French

RATED: TV 14

COMPANY: FUNimation

RELEASE DATE: June 4, 2013

Originally Created by Masamune Shirow

Directed by Takayuki Hamana

Sereis Composition by Jun’Ichi Fujisaku

Music by Conisch

Original Character Design by Masasamune Shirow

Character Design by Masanobu Nomura

Mechanical Design by Atsushi Takeuchi

Anime Production: Jimi’s Animation Studios

Background Art: Studio Biho

Featuring the voices of:

Kouichi Yamadera/David Matranga as Brialeos

Maaya Sakamoto/Luci Christian as Deunan Knotts

Ami Koshimizu/Caitlin Glass as Gina

Hiro Shimono/Micah Solusod as Yoshitsune

Jouji Nakata/Mike McFarland as Mags

Kanji Suzumori/Brandon Potter as Reese

Kenjiro Tsuda/Chuck Huber as Greg

Masashi Sugawara/Cris George as Baxter

Mayumi Yanagisawa/Shelley Calene-Black as Nike

Mikako Takahashi/Emily Neves as Hitomi

Naomi Shindoh/Monica Rial as Dia

Naoya Uchida/Charles Campbell as Lance

Ryotaro Okiayu/Ian Sinclair as Archedes

Sakiko Tamagawa/Allison Sumrall as Athena

In the wake of destruction from a worldwide non-nuclear war, the city of Olympus has become the control center of the world. As humanity adopts biological enhancements in attempts to achieve perfection, a terrorist organization uprises to prevent what could be the eventual extinction of the human race. Two former LAPD SWAT members join a special mech-piloting, military force to take down the leader of the terrorist organization.

Masamune Shirow, one of my favorite manga artists that I had the opportunity to enjoy his works back when I was a teenager.

Creator of manga hits such as “Black Magic”, “Dominion”, “Ghost in the Shell”, “Orion” and also had the opportunity to read the manga and watch the original 1988 OVA series “Appleseed”.

Although the first Shirow anime I watched was the OVA “Black Magic M-66″, I also had the opportunity to watch the first anime release of “Appleseed” and I can easily remember how cerebral the OAV was compared to “Black Magic M-66″ and the two “Dominion Tank Police” OVA’s.  But if there is one thing that you can expect from Shirow’s work is an intelligent story, being created with meticulous detail and a tremendous back story.  Shirow is able to create a world with characters that just amazes me.

Granted, his work that a lot of people outside of Japan are familiar with is “Ghost in the Shell”, in 2004, all things changed with the release of “Appleseed” the movie, a film that brought the world of “Appleseed” using new technology and a creative, innovative way to use 3D in a film.  Directed by Shinji Aramaki, a sequel titled “Appleseed Ex Machina” was created in 2007.

The main premise of “Appleseed” is a problematic world in chaos after a non-nuclear Third World War has decimated Earth in the 22nd Century.  The United States, Great Britain and China are having problems maintaining order, while former LAPD SWAT members Deunan Kute and Briareos Hecantonchires work for the prestigious ES.W.A.T. (Extra Special Weapons and Tactics) in the city of Olympus.  A city in which half of the population are bioroids and shows how Deunan and Briareos are dedicated to protecting their home from their enemies.

But for those wanting storyline exploring how Deunan and Briareos became close as partners, the storyline was never fully explored in an animated version (only in the manga series) until 2011 when the CGI anime adaptation of Masamune Shirow’s “Appleseed XIII” was aired on television in 2011-2012.  The first 6 episodes were then made into a film titled “Appleseed XIII: Tartaros” in June 2011 and a second film based on the final seven episodes  titled “Appleseed XIII: Ouranos” was released in October 2011.

The series was directed by Takayuki Hamana (“The Prince of Tennis”, “Sisters of Wellber”, “Library War”) and features a screenplay by Jun’ichi Fujisaku (“Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex”, “Real Drive”, “XxxHOLic the Movie: A Midsummer Night’s Dream”).  The music for the animated series was created by Conisch (“Mardock Scramble” films, “ToHeart2”, “Yu-Gi-Oh! Zexal”), character designs by Takayuki Goto  (“Blue Seed”, “Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex”) and art direction by Masanobu Nomura (“The Big O”, “Blue Exorcist”, “Gurren Lagann”, “Ah! My Goddess: The Movie”).

The animated series focuses on a younger Deunan and her relationship with Briareos.  Deunan is a special agent who is in a relationship with Briareos, a veteran cyborg soldier.

She’s has a temper and doesn’t like how Briareos acts like her father (which she didn’t get along with), but Briareos has promised her father and to her, that he would protect her no matter what.  And as the two want to protect Olympus as members of ES.W.A.T., they must deal with a lot of corruption, may it be corporate or political.

But trouble ensues when the city is implementing the Ark Project, a project to preserve the future of human kind but under bioroid supervision.  And as there are humans who have accepted bioroids as part of society, there is another group known as the Human Liberation Front that opposes the project, as they despise anything bioroid.

And because the HLF is tied to a terrorist group known as the Argonauts, trouble begins to take place in the city of Olympus and Deunan and Briareos must do what they can to protect Olympus.

VIDEO:

“Appleseed XIII: Complete Series” is presented in 1080p High Definition.  While both “Appleseed” films raised the bar of what can be accomplished in CG animation during that time, “Appleseed XIII” also utilizes CG but in a different style.  Not to say that it’s bad because it’s a given that a TV series will not have the same animation budget as a film, but there is obviously less detail and the animation can look a bit jerky at times.  From character movements, hair movements, it just reminded me of how animation was back in the mid-to-late ’90s at times, while background art was very good.  It takes a while to get used to, but the art backgrounds, mechanical design and are well-done!

Presentation on Blu-ray is clean with no artifacts, slight banding and colors look very good in HD.

AUDIO:

“Appleseed XIII: Complete Series” is presented in Japanese and English Dolby TrueHD 5.1.  Action scenes showcase very good use of panning for the surround channels and also good use of LFE.   As for voice acting on the Japanese side, you have two veterans involved with the series.  Kouichi Yamadera who had previously done the voice of Briareos (as well as the voice of Spike on “Cowboy Bebop”, Tenshin han on “Dragon Ball Z”, Cheese on “Soreike! Anpanman”.  And you have Maaya Sakamoto doing the voice of Deunan (she also did the voice of Lunamaria Hawke in “Mobile Suit Gundam Seed Destiny”, Ciel Phantomhive in “Black Butler”and Aura in the “.Hack” series).

As for the English dub, it’s important to note that the English voice talent for the TV series is different from the films (as original voice talent were not available) but the voice talent featuring David Matranga as Briareos and Luci Christian as Deunan, both did a wonderful job.

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Appleseed XIII: Complete Series” comes with the following special features:

  • Episode 7 Audio Commentary – Featuring audio commentary by Mike McFarland, Ian Sinclair and Monica Rial.
  • Episode 12 Audio Commentary – (7:23) Featuring audio commentary by Colleen Clinkenbeard and David Matranga.
  • The Inside – (2:23:56) A wonderful featurette featuring 13 special features on the making of “Appleseed XIII” and learning about how the series involved various Japanese creators and companies who took part in making the animated series.
  • U.S. Trailer – (2:02) FUNimation’s trailer for “Appleseed XIII”.
  • Textless Opening and Closing Theme

EXTRAS:

“Appleseed XIII: Complete Series” comes with both the Blu-ray and DVD version of the films.

When it comes to Masamune Shirow works, one of the experiences that I like to come out of reading or watching his works is the feeling of intellectual storytelling.  Storytelling that captivates you for how cerebral and not worrying if the masses will understand his work or not.

“Appleseed” is an interesting anime because the storyline of the characters of Deunan and Briareos as members of ES.W.A.T. has been established in the OAV and the two animated films.  We know these two characters are kick ass, no nonsense and literally get the job done, no matter what challenges come their way.

We have seen the corruption of the powerful and we have seen the troubles within society between humans and bioroids.   So, that is an established storyline for those who have followed “Appleseed” in the past.

With the success of the two films and so much content from Shirow’s manga that have yet to be covered, “Appleseed XIII” takes the storyline before those major events and focuses on a young, explosive Deunan and her overprotective boyfriend/cyborg Briareos.

And I have to admit that I was surprised to see the sentimental side between these two characters.  For so long, they have been involved in storylines where your attention is focused on their partnership and taking on criminals but this time around, while the focuses on protecting the city and going after criminals, still continues, we also get to see an emotional side of the characters.

Deunan’s lack of a relationship with her father, her stubbornness of being upset at Briareos who wants to protect her.  And to see the two bickering about their relationship, it was not what I was expecting to see. But the fact that this series covers their early relationship, I suppose I never really expected to see this emotional side of either characters.

But I suppose it is necessary to show how these two have evolved as partners but I suppose I never really thought about them in a romantic kind of way considering she is human and he is cyborg.

The storyline between human and bioroids actually made me think of an older anime series titled “Bubblegum Crisis” and the hatred between humans and robots trying to co-exist but “Appleseed XIII” also explores the positive bond between human and bioroids as well.   I know there have been several stories that explored that tale, but it’s interesting to see how this storyline plays out and how it starts to affect Deunan.

As for the anime series, I felt the animation took getting used to.  After watching the beautiful animation of the films, it took a while to get used to the anime production.  Character designs were good but at times were clunky.  From hair movement to body movement, the jerkiness was almost like a trip back to the late ’90s of CG animation.  But there are impressive visual moments throughout the film.  Backgrounds were beautiful to look at, fight scenes were impressive and mechanical designs were awesome.

While certain aspects of the film looked amazing on Blu-ray and good use of surround channels and LFE for lossless audio, I was also happy to see the 2 hour and 23 minute featurettes about the making of the series plus the addition of two audio commentaries.

Overall, “Appleseed XIII” was a fascinating series and for those who enjoyed the previous OVA or films, it was an interesting look into the background of the protagonists Deunan and Briareos and their earlier relationship as a couple and members of E.S.W.A.T taking on a variety of challenges.  An action-packed anime series with an emotional touch, “Appleseed XIII” is recommended!






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