Thursday, May 31, 2007

The Apple Doesn't Fall Far

APPLESEED was a joy to watch.
This is not news, as it's been out now for three years.
Not only was the story intriguing, but it was one of the first cel-shaded action movies from Japan to make waves in this country. Being a huge fan of cel-shading, this was a huge inspiration to me.

Appleseed, based on the graphic novel by the same name, was written by Masamune Shiro, and the graphic novel was so well received that it won the 1986 Seiun Award for Best Manga. Shiro, a fan icon inthe cyberpunk scene has gone on to pen many more stories, but for a large group of fans, Appleseed was a crowning achievement, followed only by the Ghost in the Shell series.

Two things come to mind when thinking about stories by Shiro; his frequent use of strong, female leads in his stories, and his philosophy on mecha and its limitations. For as much as I've seen, Shiro's stories have always had strong female leads, something which I admire. Let's face it, guy's and dolls, there are a lot of kick-ass women out there who hold their own just as much, if not more than men. Recently, there have been more heroine's in major media, Lara Croft, Ripley from the Aliens series, Battlestar Galactica's Starbuck and more that I'm sure I haven't mentioned. This is not to say that Shiro makes them larger than life necessarily, like so many male heroes have been, but he shows a determination and inner strength, as well as physical prowess that matches the boys. It's this fan's opinion that doing such was a great move by Shiro, as it not only set his work aside, but it finally gave the spotlight to those who deserve it.

Shiro once created a Rules of Mecha article a while back detailing the physical limitations of mechanical augmentations to the human body. Why is this significant? Well, in most movies, books and film, the artistic direction is completely implausible. Let's say you have Joe Action who loses both arms while fighting off a ferocious tribe of pygmy armadillos. Joe gets back and has bionic arms grafted to his body. Now he can lift up cars, steel vault doors and the like. Nope, sorry Joe, no dice. According to Shiro's articles, while the bionic arms themselves may have the capacity to lift an incredible amount of tonnage, they are still grafted to Joe's original bone structure. Due to the transfer of weight throughout the body, the shiny new arms would be fine, but the rest of poor Joe's bones would shatter. He's probably cry too... pansy.

Observations such as this changed the way that mecha (specifically human augmentation) has been designed. For example, all of the physical augmentations that deal with strength have been written to include fully reinforced skeletal structures.

So why do I bring all of this up?
Because there's a sequal coming. It has been announced today that Appleseed Saga Ex Machina, the sequal to the first movie, is now in production and will be released Q4 07 in japan (so most likely Q1 08 stateside). From the trailer available on the official Appleseed Saga Ex Machina website, the technique and direction has significantly improved, as well as the quality of animation. Its being directed by the #1 fan of slow motion doves, Mr John Woo, so expect a good amount of gun-play and eye candy.

So am I excited? Oh hells yes. Not only does the fact that the series is continuing excite me, but seeing the cutting edge technique is something that I've been waiting for. Don't get me wrong, I like my share of ogres, donkeys, talking cats, talking, gingerbread men, talking penguins, talking toys, talking rats, surfing penguins, lost zoo animals, superheroes, talking mammoths and talking cars as much as the next red-blooded American, but I'm growing older now. My tastes have changed. I'm glad someone, somewhere has notices, and is making movies accordingly.


shinykaro said...

Pygmy armadillos? Really?

Anonymous said...


Americans! one of your quirky and endearing qualities is that you think everything in the world is a special gift just for you!
as long as you appreciate it ;)

but seriously, Anime in general is very underrated in western society. Pity - the themes, characters and cinematography are so much slicker, subtle and intellectual than your ususal hollywood mass-manafactured flick.

when you see new movies these days, especially in the action / sci-fi / fantasy genre, there's always a lot of "Ziff-ing" ("errrr! AS IF!" = "as if" quickly becomes "a Zif") which is a sure sign that the disbelief is no longer suspened.

But with Anime, there are not alot of Ziff moments. so where a film would incite a flood of angry protestations on the internet, Anime seems to stave away the Ziffers.

Thank God for SBS Australia showing awsome flicks like Appleseed, Ghost in the Shell, and Miyzaki classics like Spirited Away, and Kiki's delivery service!!