Appleseed XIII (Japan 2011)

Rating: **
Review Date: 5/26/13

Contains 13 episodes.

It took a couple of years, but Funimation finally decided to give "Appleseed XIII" a domestic release, and at a bargain price as well! While it fares better than the "Tartaros" and "Ouranos" movies, and benefits greatly from having subtitles, it's still pretty poor and horribly dull. Tensions are strained between Olympus and Poseidon, as an ambassador named Deia visits Olympus to study the bioroid population. ESWAT has their hands full of bizarre incidents, and Deia turns out to be an extremist who is on a mission to wipe out all bioroids. After being defeated by ESWAT mid-season, she comes back even deadlier than before to fulfill her vengeance. Through it all, Deunan and Briareos attempt to keep the peace while struggling with their own existential relationship woes.

I'm a huge fan of Masamune Shirow's "Appleseed" universe, but this series feels like a serious misfire. Oddly, this is mostly due to its low tech CGI presentation, which is surprising coming from Studio IG. They've ditched the sharp lines and intricate details of the cel-shaded movies, and opted for a more plastic look with watercolor highlights and a video game-like presentation. The mecha looks fantastic, as if it jumped right out of the manga, but the characters look unattractive and their movements are poorly scripted and overly stiff. More than anything, the awkward character movement betrays the budget of the production. A bright pastel color scheme is also used, which spoils the mood and makes Olympus look fake and surreal. The action scenes are highly kinetic, but overly jerky camera work and sparse backgrounds bleed the excitement out of them. I could actually deal with all of these issues if the story was interesting, but it's not. In fact, it is so dreadfully dull that it was difficult for me to stay awake while watching it (which is highly unusual for me). It uses A LOT of static images with long-winded voiceovers, and lots of recycled imagery as well, which is pretty inexcusable given how simple it is to render things with digital technology. It may also be that "Appleseed" doesn't work well in an episodic sense, although the final episode challenges that notion. It's the purest episode of the bunch, and the only one where the characters seem true to Shirow's original work. It's a shame that this tone and social dynamic don't exist in the rest of the show. While I found it disappointing, I hope this isn't the last we see of Deunan and Briareos.