Plot: What’s it about?
Deunan has become so accustomed to being partnered with Briareos, the thought of anyone else by her side seems almost unacceptable. This is because in addition to being her partner in E.S.W.A.T., Briareos is also her lover, so the two share a strong bond on and off the job. After Briareos suffered injuries that almost claimed his life, he was kept alive thanks to cybernetic armor, a change which impacted both his personal and professional life. Deunan tries to adapt to life with Briareos in this condition, while also trying to adjust to a new partner, a bioroid named Tereus. The bioroid was engineered using Briareos’ own DNA, which means he looks and sounds just like the original. As Deunan struggles with this unusual situation, she is thrust into a violent chain of events, but how will she handle her altered lifestyle?
I am not a huge fan of anime, but I do watch a good deal of anime programs and I was looking forward to Appleseed: Ex Machina. To be sure, the involvement of John Woo helped pique my interest, as I had visions of grand gun battles in glorious computer animation. As it turns out, Appleseed: Ex Machina does provide some good eye candy, some of the visuals just shine and you can’t help but soak it all in. This is a sequel, so the filmmakers have ramped up the action and the tension for the second jaunt, which results in a more thrill packed ride. The story works well, but the emotion of the story is often restrained by the limitations of the animation. Even so, Appleseed: Ex Machina is a fun and kinetic ride, with plenty to look at and some well crafted action scenes that are well worth a look. So while this might not be an anime masterpiece, Appleseed: Ex Machina is recommended to anyone who loves gun based action. This Blu-ray edition doesn’t look as good as I had hoped, but better than the standard release, so this is the one to check out.
Video: How does it look?
Appleseed: Ex Machina is presented in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen. I tend to have high expectations when animated releases are shown in high definition, so I was let down here. The visuals here look good, but don’t deliver the eye popping detail or three dimensional depth I expected. I wouldn’t go so far as to call the image soft, but clarity isn’t up there with the best animated transfers, that is for sure. I also noticed some noise and artifacts, but I don’t think these problems were as prominent as some other reviewers have claimed. The visuals do look good, with bright colors and solid depth, but by Blu-ray standards, just don’t measure up that well.
Audio: How does it sound?
Despite what the case states, there is a Japanese Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack included. The audio sounds great here too, with some skillful surround use that draws you in. All of the speakers are put through some serious exercise, with great directional presence and atmospheric elements. When bullets are fired, you’ll hear them zip through the channels and not just from the front, the gunfire comes from all corners. The soundtrack is active from moment one and aside from a few isolated scenes, never seems too crowded or bogged down. This disc also includes an English, French, German, Dutch, and Cantonese language tracks, as well as subtitles in English, French, Chinese, Dutch, German, and Korean.
Supplements: What are the extras?
Given the power players involved in the production, I was let down to learn the audio commentary was only with producer Joseph Chu. Even so, the track has some good information and Chu discusses the cultural elements, the animation process, and the voice talent. The featurettes on deck include a look at the animation process, a trip into the Appleseed manga, a piece on Woo and Aramaki’s involvement, and a final featurette on the Western influence on anime.