New and old worlds meet in Shinji Aramaki's action-packed sci-fi, which blends traditional-looking cell anime characters with cutting-edge CGI backgrounds. Beautiful female soldier Deunan Knute, a guerrilla fighter in a brilliantly realised ruined city, is recruited to protect a utopian society built on a populous of human and "bioroid" citizens. A convoluted plot with echoes of Ridley Scott's Blade Runner pitches man against clone. But, ironically, the impressive hi-tech visuals of Appleseed undermine the human aspects of story and dialogue.
Not that movies like this are really about dialogue. Fans of the genre will have their appetites more than satisfied by the usual serving of lemon-headed, almond-eyed girl heroes with peachy behinds, plus muscular wall-smashing robot soldiers. And the striking 3D scenery and dynamic action sequences offered by Aramaki's innovative production techniques are sometimes breathtaking. However, this excitement is tempered by lots of arduous monologues about society, war and "the future of mankind".
"AN EXTENDED VIDEO GAME"
This failure to keep things simple would be far more excusable if there weren't still several plot holes left unexplained at Appleseed's explosive climax. Equally, the downside to Aramaki's use of computer-generated animation is an occasional feeling that you're sitting through an extended opening sequence from a video game. Nevertheless, there is plenty to admire from a technical and artistic standpoint. Some of the action sequences are as refreshing as those early viewings of The Matrix, which itself owed much to Appleseed creator Masamune Shirow and his comicbook Ghost In The Shell.