“Appleseed” = bad Sci-Fi
Okay, I’ve got the attention of the Anime fans, now.
I just watched the first half of Appleseed. It’s a beautiful film. Some of the character animations are a little wooden, but it’s still very, very PRETTY. (Okay, regarding the wooden animations: In a few places it is so bad it’s only a step or two above Barbie: Rapunzel. Which I have seen. Twice. Go ahead, become a parent. Have daughters. I dare you.)
Back on topic: Appleseed is pretty. It’s also horrible sci-fi.
Oh, it’s got lots of neat pieces: robots, artificial people, a false utopia, shiny cities, ruined cities, and stuff blowing up. The setting is a fascinating one. Apparently the writers thought so too, because characters spend endless minutes of screen time “cabbaging” about this and that aspect of the setting. In particular, the dark-haired, burgundy-eyed bioroid chick did that, and did so in a voice I can’t believe the dub producers paid money for.
Here’s the problem: not one of the characters was even remotely interesting. Oh, I could tell which characters I was SUPPOSED to be identifying with, rooting for, or otherwise emotionally investing in — that’s what the audio cues and soft lighting is for — but there wasn’t a single one of them I would have stood up for and said “please, mister screenwriter, don’t kill him/her/it off.” Not the heroine. Not her half-machine friend. And certainly not the burgundy-eyed cabbage-head.
Oh, the irony: when the film finally gets around to the “quest” bit (“go find this piece of lost and mysterious technology so we can save our society”) one of the motivating factors for the heroine is that cabbage-head is now dying. Me, I couldn’t have cheered louder, seeing her collapse in a ruined heap. If this film had been “Peter Pan” and she’d been Tinkerbell, I would have run through the audience attempting to keep people from clapping. I would have invented anti-applause, and applied it liberally, not-clapping intently enough to kill the fairies for the next three nights’ showings.
(Thinking about it… in this case, shouting “I DO NOT BELIEVE IN FAIRIES” is all I’d have to do, right? Now… is there a version of that sentence that works on Anime chicks?)
Yeah, I’ll go back and watch the end of the movie. There’s a lot I can learn from it about line and color. Shots are well framed, and the action is enjoyable. But whoever it was who recommended Appleseed to me needs to raise the bar a little bit. Appleseed is beautiful, and it’s sci-fi, and it’s great animation, but that doesn’t make it great sci-fi.
Maybe if I’d watched it BEFORE watching Serenity.