Cinerama: Appleseed

Posted: September 11, 2009 in Cinerama

Appleseed

By Mike Derderian

“A rose in her prime weathering on a hospital bed in room 147.” This was the only headline that caught my eyes as I leafed through a Jordanian daily. I work for a newspaper, yet I hate reading the news, why? Is it because the News Muse never paid me a visit or is it that I just hate our reality—the reality is that I fail to exist in both mind and spirit but not in body!

The rose’s name is Faten, an 18 year-old Jordanian girl with an acute liver failure that instigates a haste liver transplant. Alas, all she and her family can do is but wait in hope for a divine intervention or the hand of a merciful good-doer that can pay for the operation costs.

All she needs is a lousy JD 50,000. I say lousy because such a sum is equivalent to the price of a fancy E-class Mercedes; ironically, some Jordanians are willing to pay this sum to obtain a piece of scrap metal on four wheels. Where is the irony? Well, in Faten’s case, such a bundle is equal to her life, the life of a human.

“Let the man without a sin cast the first stone.” Who am I to judge thee rich people of Jordan? I realize I am no saint myself after spending JD 100 on a DVD collection. So what’s my little Satan’s excuse? You’re a cinema columnist and you need to establish a film library. If you can find a better excuse than this, then I suggest you become a writer yourself.

After such a forlorn prelude all I can wish for is that life all of a sudden would turn into a Japanese anime film, where a girl-soldier called Deunan Knute can simply give Faten the Appurushîdo or Appleseed and save her from death.

A lot of people fail to realize that life’s reality and anime’s fantasy is little by little fusing into a single dimension as technological breakthroughs—like cloning, integrating live texture with microchips (Cyborg science) and robots—are becoming real. Who knows, maybe in a few years time, if I am still around, I might enlist in a Blade Runner police squad!

Based on a Manga comic book created by Masamune Shirow in 1988, the 2004 remake of Appleseed will take you to a fascinating world, where humans, bioroids and cyborgs coexist in a utopian society ruled by a corporate organization known as Olympus.

For your own knowledge: Bioroids are fully formed living beings created through biogenesis, the name adjoins the term biological and android—a robot that possesses human features—into one.

Unlike the traditional anime approach found in full-length Japanese animated films, Appleseed was a mixture of Computer Generated Images (CGI) with the basic anime school brush strokes. The result was a highly-styled action film with a blend of anime heart wrenching drama, which contrary to the belief of Jordanians regarding anime is not suitable for children.

Set in the year 2131, the film’s opening sequence transmits the apocalyptic vision of a world ruined by a non-nuclear war, when merciless machines started hunting for humans. It is here that we are introduced to the animated vixen warrior Deunan Knute as she prepares to take out highly trained robotic killing machines.

This is one action sequence you’ll sink your teeth in and at the same time will keep you glued to your seat as you watch how Deunan boldly tries to escape a heavily armored tank with only one purpose: destroy target at any cost—sounds like one of George Bush’s campaign slogans.

The plot does sound familiar, doesn’t it? Here is a list of films you’ll find similar in plot and action to this one: Blade Runner (1982), Robocop (1987), Robot Jox (1990), Johnny Mnemonic (1995), Final Fantasy: the Spirits Within (2001), The Matrix Trilogy (1999-2003) and Artificial Intelligence: AI (2001).

A tiny apple seed is where all life’s knowledge existed once upon a time, the same knowledge that deprived us from our eternal life under God’s grace. Ironically, in this 2004 anime the apple seed is the element that will ensure the continuity of man’s existence.

Directed by Shinji Aramaki, the film introduces us to colorful characters ranging between humans, biroids, robot assassins and cyborgs. However, it sadly fails to present a more in-depth search in the main character’s personalities as in the case with Deunan, Hitomi, Athena and especially Briareos, the cyborg companion and former lover of Deunan (Ai Kobayashi).

Good animation, great fight sequences, impressive jet vehicles and machines—especially the robot suits worn by humans—are among the many reasons that makes Appleseed a good film to watch. Watching the film in Japanese is quite an enjoyable experience, especially after listening to the characters as they voice anger, frustration and even joy.

The introduction of a character such as Briaros (Jûrôta Kosugi ) brings in another question: How would a human feel if he lost his entire body, but is left to live entrapped within a robotic skeleton and, above all, face the person he once was in love with?

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