Appleseed Ex Machina (also w/Collector's Edition) -

Anime/Manga Reviews

Mania Grade: A-

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  • Audio Rating: A
  • Video Rating: A
  • Packaging Rating: B-
  • Menus Rating: B+
  • Extras Rating: B+
  • Age Rating: 13 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: Warner Home Video
  • MSRP: 24.98/34.98
  • Running time: 90
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Appleseed

Appleseed Ex Machina (also w/Collector's Edition)

By Bryce Coulter     March 10, 2008
Release Date: March 11, 2008

Appleseed Ex Machina (also w/Collector's Edition)
© Warner Home Video

What They Say
Based on the manga from creator Shirow Masamune, Shinji Aramaki follows up his 2004 take on Appleseed with this new outing which finds Deunan and Briareos as both partners and lovers. As members of ESWAT, the elite forces serving Olympus, they are deployed everywhere trouble strikes. The two fighters find their partnership tested in a new way by the arrival of Tereus who uncannily resembles Briareos before the wartime injuries that led to his becoming a cyborg. At the same time, Olympus finds itself under a stealth attack . Cyborg terrorism, deadly nanotech zealots, and rioting citizens are just some of the threats that Deunan must contend with as she fights to save Olympus

The Review!
Deunan and Briareos team up again to protect Olympus once again

We listened to the English sound track for this release. We also sampled the Japanese track. The English 5.1 track sounded great for a standard DVD release. Surprisingly enough, this release does not come with a Japanese 5.1 track, which is disappointing. The English voice cast does a fairly good job of keeping up with standard set by the Japanese cast. In listening to both language tracks we didn't have any problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.

Originally released in Japanese theaters in late 2007, the transfer for this film is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.85:1. This release is full of eye candy and has a tremendous amount of detail. Issues prominent in the first film such as gradient problems and aliasing are dramatically reduced. The film is very smooth compared to its older brother that was released several years ago. This is very apparent in sequences that have a lot of fast moving action. Pans across the sky or scenes with very detailed backgrounds look very sharp. Scenes involving water or oceanic backgrounds look a lot better than the previous release. Considering that this film is primarily CG, one shouldn't be too surprised to see some very minor flaws. Regardless, this is a fantastic release that does a great job of putting John Woo's cinematic effects into play. The eye candy is fantastic.

The packaging for this release of Ex Machina features Briareos, Deunan, and Tereus on the front cover. There are no inserts for this collection, which is a bummer. The actual DVD features the familiar image of Briareos holding Deunan. The back cover is tightly laid out with very little whitespace. A description of the movie takes up most of the space along with an image of Deunan and Briareos. The special features are clearly defined along with the production credits. If you look closely, the bottom right-hand corner lists the languages for the film.

Ex Machina's menu is very basic and appears to be the same as the Blu-ray release. The menus are easy to navigate, but are pretty lackluster as they only use static images. The language selections appear in their native format. French is listed as Francais while the Japanese and Chinese languages are done in their kanji. Those who want to view the film in Japanese will need to take a moment to figure out which kanji matches up with the right language.

The extras presented in this release are really good in that they provide some in-depth perspectives on the film. The feature length commentary track done by Jerry Beck and Joseph Chou provides a great deal of detail on what went into making the film. The commentary track sometimes gets washed out by the sound from the film, which requires you to crank up the volume. The best extra is the Team-Up feature, which of course focuses on the brilliance behind the film, that being the merging of two great minds, Shinji Aramki and John Woo. Armaki, famous for his mecha designs in Macross and Bubblegum crisis and John Woo, famous for his brilliance in action films is a real treat to watch. The respect both men had for each other and their love for what they do is truly captured in this feature. John Woo's presence had a tremendous impact on the design team. This also goes for Woo himself who stated that he would love to create his own animated feature after having worked on Ex Machina. The feature is in English
for the most part but is fully subtitled. The final extra, Revolution: Animating Ex Machina, covers what went into the CG animation process. This makes for a great inside look into CG artistry, but one has to wonder how this really looks when viewing it in high definition. I really wish they would have put the other extras from the Blu-ray version in instead of this final extra as it would fit better with the high definition format release.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers).
Where do I begin? I vividly remember preordering the collector's edition of the first Appleseed movie several years back and how I couldn't wait to get home to watch it on my newly acquired 62" LCD TV. Theatrical releases for anime are few in far between in Louisville, KY. So, you have to seek out whatever means necessary to get your anime fix. Popping Appleseed into my DVD player for the first time brought back that childhood experience when I first got to see Robotech, Voltron, Battle of the Planets, etc.. I just geeked out!! The other night was no different.

Ex Machina appears to pick up right after the events that occurred in the last movie. Olympus has recovered from its siege by the Elders who attempted to wipe out the human race in favor of starting a new race of biroroids that would inhabit the earth. The ideal of peace throughout the world would be almost guaranteed, according to the Elders, if there were no more humans with hostile emotions.

Ex Machina is no different in its idealism as another faction has emerged in attempt to purge the world of humans and their vile emotions that lead to chaos, war, and destruction. As in the previous movie, the viewer is thrown right into the fray as we join Briareos and Deunan in another high risk E-SWAT operation. Immediately, you will see John Woo's influence as there are several of Woo's trademark action sequences. Woo even stated that he was impressed with the first movie's action sequences and was equally impressed with what was already laid out before him by the staff for Ex Machina. Woo adds just the right amount of shoot'em up action sequences and slow motion effects that just enhance the overall experience.

Masamune Shirow's, manga creator for Appleseed and Ghost in the Shell, futuristic look and design for the Olympus is almost life like. It gives us a glimpse of what our world could possibly look like in the next 20 - 50 years. The underlying theme of Masamune Shirow's works lie within man's dependence on technology and how it can be twisted into the most sinister of evils. Technology brings about much good for humankind, but can be easily manipulated for evil works.

For just a few moments, we get to experience the human side of things as conflict arises for our two main characters. Briareos, primarily humanoid, was nearly killed when ambushed by a group of bioroid terrorists. He is all machine now, but he fights to maintain his humanity. This is best exhibited by his interaction and affection for Deunan. Deunan sees beyond Briareos' shell and continues to love him unconditionally. Deunan's devotion to Briareos is tested to the fullest when she is forced to work with a new bioroid partner. Her partner, Tereus, is a clone of Briareos and resembles his human form prior to his accident. Tereus develops the same type of affection towards Deunan as Briareos, which makes for some deep internal conflict. Can Deunan separate the real Briareos from the clone? Can she continue to love a man trapped inside a mechanized body?

As the overall plot unravels, Deunan, Briareos, and Tereus will have to deal with a form of terrorism that is unleashing massive amounts of destruction and chaos within Olympus. In turn, each person will have to make some tough decisions in regard to what is real, what is right, and what path they must take. This makes for a great sci-fi thriller that is masterfully simple, yet profound in its final outcome.

Ex Machina is a real treat for Appleseed fans and will make true believers out of many anime skeptics. John Woo and Shinji Aramki are a great tag-team that have taken the Appleseed franchise to a whole new level. If anything, Appleseed has proven that CG animation and great story telling can be combined into a great feature film. The 2005 Appleseed film is what I use to show friends who are unfamiliar with anime. Ex Machina is no different as it will be yet another anime release that I will use to sway those to become true believers! Highly Recommended

English 5.1 Language,Japanese 2.0 Language,Chinese 2.0 Language,Portuguese 2.0 Language,French 2.0 Language,English Subtitles,English Subtitles for the hearing impaired,Portuguese Subtitles,Chinese Subtitles,Team Up: John Woo and Shinji Aramaki,Revolution: Animating Ex Machina,Commentary Track,CE: Steelbook Case,CE: Flimmaker's Commentary,CE: "John Woo/Shinji Aramaki Team-Up" featurette, CE: "Profile on the CG Technology" featurette,CE: "Behind the Anime Magic" featurette

Review Equipment
Hitachi 62VS69 62" UltraVision LCD Projection HDTV, Samsung BDP-1000 Blu-ray Player with Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound.


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