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MCM BUZZ – Movies, TV, Comics, Gaming, Anime, Cosplay News & Reviews » Appleseed XIII Complete Series Collection Review
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Appleseed XIII Complete Series Collection Review

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Appleseed XIII is a fairly unusual anime series. It’s directed by Takayuki Hamana and written by Junichi Fujisaku but the actual production of each individual episode went to a completely different studio. One studio made episode one, another made episode two, another made episode three and so on and so on.

It’s a worrying approach but the result is neither terrible or amazing. Thanks to the direction and the use of standard character models, the look is at least similar enough across the series that you might never guess multiple studios were involved.

The visuals are a really mixed bag. One moment you’re watching a character pull a face like a horrible blow-up plastic doll and the next you see a beautiful shot of the city at night-time.

apple2This is mostly down to the medium itself. Appleseed XIII uses CGI designed to take on the aesthetics of its 2D anime counterparts. Sadly the result can occasionally make you feel as if you’re watching a Saturday mornings kids show or the cutscene to a video game.

At least the character designs are towards the high end of what’s possible with this variety of CG but sadly the animation can let it down. Again, this is all down to the different studios each taking a different approach. While some choose to use motion capture, others are more comfortable with manual animation.

Then there’s the simple fact that some of the studios will simply be better at this than the others and so what you’re left with is a show that wavers in quality.

Even most of the action sequences fail to reach a level of excitement you would expect from a sci-fi anime series. When someone gets hit you don’t really “feel” it. The characters seem too much like puppets so it’s difficult to have that necessary empathy.

Although it has to be said that any of the sequences involving the mecha suits are definitely fun to watch. It’s here that you begin to see why the series was made using CGI in the first place because mechas and robots lend themselves more easily to CGI than anything else.

The lighting and environments are also highlights. There is an immense amount of beauty there and a lot of the scenes set outside are simply breathtaking.

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Like the visuals, the story is also pretty varied. Most 13 episode anime series use their short run to tell a concise and whole story. Strangely Appleseed XIII is actually episodic in nature with the exception of a three-episode story arc towards the end.

While this isn’t exactly a show you’d want to rush through in an evening, the stories do occasionally have something interesting to say. The main characters Deunan and Briareos live in the city of Olympus where humans only make up a small percentage of the population. The rest is made up of robots, cyborgs and things called bioroids.

Deunan and Briareos work for E.S.W.A.T. an elite team who take on the highly dangerous missions that the police and FBI aren’t equipped to handle. Their perspective lets them see some of the problems their society has to deal with and the series gets to look at some interesting questions.

apple1The bioroids in particular raise questions of morality. They are essentially human but due to their genetics and “programming” are designed to be content with their lives and do the jobs humans don’t want to do. While Deunan is perfectly happy to make friends with bioroids, she eventually meets someone who despises them and describes them as mere objects. We’re left wondering, should they be treated as human? Can they be human if they are programmed to act a certain way?

The voice acting is fairly standard with the exception of David Matranga, the voice behind Briareos. His character lacks any facial movement or expression (this isn’t another dig at the animation, he genuinely doesn’t) but he does successfully convey the emotions that the animation can’t show. In fact his voice acting alone is enough to make Briareos the best character of the series.

Even so, those used to watching subs might want to check out the Japanese version instead where the standard of acting is more even overall.

Appleseed XIII could have been a great series, but unfortunately the storytelling lets it down. Good ideas don’t always reach their potential; while the odd episode might capture your enthusiasm, it’s likely that most of them will leave you a bit bored.

It’s not that Appleseed XIII is bad, it just seems to struggle with itself. It tries to be profound or thought-provoking and usually misses the mark. There is some good stuff in there but the overall feel is that it’s all just very average

Extras:

There are a couple of commentaries with the voice actors which are really fun, it’s just a shame there weren’t more. Then there’s Appleseed XIII “Inside” made up of individual episodes that look at the different studios working behind each episode. They’re interesting to watch and should keep you busy for a couple of hours as they delve in to the production of Appleseed.

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