Cyberpunk Review » Appleseed

January 30, 2006


Year: 1988

Directed by: Kazuyoshi Katayama

Written by: Kazuyoshi Katayama, Masamune Shirow (manga)

IMDB Reference

Degree of Cyberpunk Visuals: Medium

Correlation to Cyberpunk Themes: High

Key Cast Members:

  • Deunan: Masako Katsuki
  • Briareos: Yoshisada Sakaguchi

Rating: 7 out of 10


Appleseed screen capture


Overview: Released the same year as Akira, this Masamune Shirow story is far more an artifact of 80s Anime, whereas Akira points the way to how anime will look in the 90s. This early Mecha movie is violent, profanity laden and action packed, with a really nice story and interesting philosophical undertones. And interestingly, this is one of the very few animes where the English track is actually the best one.


Appleseed screen capture


The Story: Appleseed takes place in a dystopian future, in which a city called Olympus has been engineered to be a created as a perfect refuge from the rest of the world. Many of the inhabitants have been bio-engineered “biodroids,” which are half-human, half-cyborgs designed to serve specific roles in the society. An all-powerful computer named GIA controls all city functions, and is just now starting to become responsible for the defense systems. Olympus is so controlled that there is little diversity or struggles required from its inhabitants.


Appleseed screen capture


A cyborg terrorist named Sabastian has made it his mission to destroy GIA. He finds a kindred soul in a disenchanted police officer, who’s wife committed suicide after she couldn’t stand living such a controlled existence. They plot to take over the prototype impenetrable tank in order to kill Gia and destroy Olympus. The movie centers around the mecha-laden Swat police force aligning their forces to stop them. In addition to heavy violence, we get MASSIVE amounts of F-bombs dropped here. Its actually rather cool seeing the amount of profanity that is used here - far more than one would expect from an anime such as this.


Appleseed screen capture


Deunan, a hot police chick and Briareos, a bug-like looking cyborg are Swat team members assigned to stop the terrorists. Incidentally, these two are clearly the precursors for Major Motoko Kusanagi and her cyborg partner, Bateau. While Deunan keeps her clothes on and doesn’t have Motoko’s intelligence, she definitely fills the same roll. Spunkiness is her middle name. The rest of the group, including Sebastian the terrorist, and the rest of the police force all provide decent support.


Appleseed screen capture


The animation here is still mostly 80s american style. Additionally, unlike the anime of the 90s, the backgrounds are often single, simple colors. While some animation scenes are rather cool, others are really more simple than you’d want. Definitely, the majority of the animation effort is about highlighing Dunan - she definitely looks better than everything else around her. Also, the sound is 80s keyboard music. Sometimes it works, but mostly its just distracting.


Appleseed screen capture


There are a number of messages that Appleseed puts forth. Looking at it today, the most disturbing message deals with Olympus’ rather extreme attempts to protect and inculcate itself from outside terrorists. The symbol for this is a bird in a cage. Considering that the US is in the throws of working this exact issue, Appleseed gives us a stark reminder that we can easily lose the soul of our society while attempting to protect it. Additionally, there are somewhat brief inquiries into what “life” is when examining whether biodroids should be valued similar to humans.


Appleseed screen capture


The Bottom Line: Appleseed is a good example of very early Japanese Anime. While its nowhere near the top in terms of animation, the Masamune Shirow’s story is high quality. Truly, the story is why you want to watch this. While the 2004 version definitely wins out on superior graphics, I think the 1988 version is a tighter, more interesting storyline. And if you’ve read the Applesead Manga, then the story, especially the beginning, works far better. You will find yourself becoming connected to the lead characters. But most impressive is the pacing. Appleseed packs an incredible amount of story in 68 minutes - truly, there’s very little fat here.


This post has been filed under Hot Cyberchicks Kicking Butt, AI (no body), Utopia Surrounded by Poverty, Dystopic Future Movies, Man-machine Interface, Animes, 7 Star Movies, Cyberpunk movies from 1980-1989 by SFAM.


December 28, 2006

BobbyNewmark said:

Agreed, this kicks appleseed 2004’s ass. Top quality fun to be had with none of that moody philosophising ^_^

January 9, 2007

darren seeley said:

I like both versions a lot, but somehow…I have to agree that I enjoyed the first version a lot better.

January 16, 2007

SFAM said:

Hi Darren, the first version definitely has a more coherent story.

January 23, 2007

wArteX said:

The 2004 one is just like a bad hollywood cliche, the music is aweful too, except for Paul Oakenfold’s track playing in the opening scene..

March 28, 2007

David Mills said:

The 1988 version in my opinion is superior to the 2004 cgi remake…

In the new Appleseed movie, there’s a feeling that it’s a very industrial film aimed for the enjoyment of a robot itself… the script and dialogue is incredibly dry and mind numbingly dull. Hell, if all the cast were robots it wouldn’t have made a difference. There is no interesting villain or high octane plot in the movie- Briareous is a coldcut cybernetic sentinal plugged into the system, whereas in the anime he is very human, and the only thing altered about him is hi physical appearance.

The OVA rules, the new movie is garabge. If you are going to make a CGI anime, at leats make the frame rate faster…

Cel animation will always be superior to CGI, and it’s classics like Appleseed, Wicked City, Akira and he likes that will be remembered, instead of zany DBZ esque TV crap like Naruto.

March 29, 2007

SFAM said:

Hi David, I don’t agree that cel animation is always superior to CG animation, but I do agree that the 1988 Appleseed version is better than the 2004 one - primarily for the story.

David said:

I couldn’t engage with any of characters in the 2004 remake because they all looked totally synthetic (or plastic if you like), and the script did nothing in terms of character development. Cel animation looks more realistic, and a cel animatied characters have more ‘character’ than cgi figures. There was more humanity in transformers than there was in Appleseed 2004.

SFAM said:

Yeah, I had the same issue with engagement, but probably for a different reason. The CG hair was the only thing that really threw me off from the characters from a looks perspective - it really looked right out of the show Reboot (10 years earlier). I thought the characters were plastic-like, but to me this was more due to the dialogue and story than the animation. To me, the 1988 version didn’t have that terrific of animation, except in spots - but it did have a very well thought-out story.

David said:

Didn’t think the story was well thought out at all. I’d seen the OVA before the movie, so I knew exactly what they were going for. The plot seemed a bit convoluted in places, and I’d find my mind was trailing off elsewhere. The OVA had was pretty direct in terms of storyline, and anyone aged 12-30 could understand it.

I’ve never liked CGI anime anyway, because it just seems like it’s where true creativity ends, and the computers are taking over the job slowly but surely for us. I remember coming in from school when I was 10 and seeing reboot- I was pretty amazed when the saturn and ps1 appeared a year later sporting the same kind of VR 3D experience with games like Virtua Fighter.

If there is ever to be a thing such as VR cyber sex or whatever online, in the future, then you will probably be able to choose girls the likes of Deunan Nat and Hitomi- perfect hair forever type thing… I’m sure anime is to blame for alot of the fashion of the 21st century now, which is really annoying.

I actually have some Appleseed cels for sale if you’re interested-

May 21, 2007

Caelum said:

just watched this- very interesting to compare with Akira as different styles of early scifi anime

the animation was a little primitive and the dialogue’s pretty bland, but the action and interesting characters easily make up for it

My favorite part was that it created a very solid anti-utopia. Futuristic fiction tends to be loaded with familiar dystopias brought on by capitalistic greed, war, totalitarianism, etc. but Appleseed constructs something new- a world where everything is clean, happy, and bright, but (questionably) crippled by a single fatal flaw. The movie argues that this flaw doesn’t exist, and that the setting is a true utopia… but I think I’d rather have seen Sebastian win in the end ^^ (btw his death scene is pretty lame :P)

Appleseed sets up a fascinating dilemna about what it means to rebel against perfect government, but leaves us without any real exploration into the consequences of either argument. Good review, SFAM! (oh and in my copy the central system is called GAIA)

August 25, 2007

Bullet Fiend said:

I agree with this last line so much, It’s not funny.

Bullet Fiend said:

By that, I meant “David Mill” ‘ s comment.

Bullet Fiend said:

I just read some more of the page and I have to say I disagree with Anime being to blame for the twenty-first century’s fashion. If you look around, a lot of what is considered “in,” “normal” or even “prevalent,” most of it is so bland and clich├ęd it’s sick.

olympus cit’s police dept. is based upon the new port city police- both by Shirow. is this not correct?

November 6, 2007

Anonymous said:

May i have a track listing of the music played in the first appleseed?

November 10, 2007

Applesucker said:

Actually, Akira blows. I saw it, & wasn’t impressed.
Bring back old Robotech* I say. That was way better.

Along side Cowboy Bebop, this (Appleseeds) is about the best ‘anime’ around. I also enjoyed the old Vampire Hunter D, & the more recent Vampire Hunter D Bloodlust 2001.

Sure, improvements on the graphic detail, & the animation. More of a CGI look, than an film, cartoon based design. I’d love to purchase a copy of the old 1988 Appleseed someday soon. Got to have the recent remake, & the older version to truly respect & admire both. btw? Anyone remember that old Sega Genesis game, Eswat ? There you go. So, sure a lot of the older anime is sort of “bland” unless you’re older geek like me, & remember the early 80’s, compared to now in 07′
well, nice review & peace out. It’s great to see so many Appleseed fans coming around. Since a lot of anime fans out there don’t even know much about it.


(I am so cool, I have a morphed hotmail account)

March 29, 2008

tinymanthbeast said:

what is the name of music in the movie ???
iv been tring to find that what for a vary long time plz if you know tell me.

Ryuk said:

The original soundtrack and music to the series features an electronic, techno and trance theme, with the likes of Paul Oakenfold, Basement Jaxx, Boom Boom Satellites, Akufen, Carl Craig, T. Raumschmiere and Ryuichi Sakamoto handling the music.


“Good Luck” –by Basement Jaxx is just one of the songs used….
i hope this helps and please reply soon….

April 19, 2008

tinymanthebeast said:

is that the music from the new one or the old one?

i looked at all of thous and its not wat i was looking for .
thakes for teling me about this song are perty good
i was tring to find that jass music and …..the fight music in the movie
cind of techno i gess =/?
all ceep looking theres steel a lot of song thes thoughs poeple music rights half that i shuld look at.

July 25, 2008

Imperiumiv said:

I love the animation in this film, it’s a style that has been unfortunately abandoned today.

December 8, 2008

tiny said:

hello sorry it took me so long but i faund the musice i was looking for .
you tiped in appleseed on google and thats how you got the wikapeda thing

thats rong its called appleseed (OVA) the classik one from 1988 .
look at that link it well take you to youtube .Norimasa Yamanaka is the composer and righter of the music . thes info shuld be on thes web site

February 17, 2009

aleesha said:

“instead of zany DBZ esque TV crap” you mean like one of the 500 dbz cels your mommy bought for you, faggot. Nice spelling job as usual.

Applesucker said:

The music in the 2004′ Appleseed was good! What the #%X@! are you smoking?
It was X-Machina that the music could of been a lot better, I was disappointed in that soundtrack.

August 9, 2011

ISO 3166-2:f-i said:

hard to find the original appleseed is.

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