Yes, I know this was a movie, but, for me, like “Ghost in the Shell”, the series made more sense than the film, although that’s where the similarities with “Appleseed XIII” end.
It is the future (and with what I see, it had pretty well damn be). It is also after the close of WWV (No, not some Super Bowl; World War Five). On the plus side, it was fought with non-nuclear weaponry. On the negative side, about half the world’s population died. Well, at least I can get a parking space. We have also seen the rise of the city-state of Olympus, a gleaming spire offering a way out of the chaos and destruction of the past and into a grand and glorious future. Or not.
It is governed by Gaia, an artificial intelligence, and administered by bioroids, genetically engineered humans. Isn’t that eugenics? Just askin’!
Into this mix we have the battle duo of Deunan Knute, a young female special agent, and Briareos, a veteran cyborg soldier. They are partners and, when Briareos was human, perhaps lovers, (this is hinted at but never really defined). They work in E.S.W.A.T., the elite Special Forces serving Olympus. They are deployed wherever trouble strikes. Conspiracies, terrorism, deadly military weapons technology, greedy corporations, and power-hungry politicians, whenever it rises its ugly head, they are there to strike a blow for the future as they fight to protect Olympus and conduct their personal quest to find Eden in the wasteland. (Enter patriotic music beneath).
The series contends itself with the Ark Project, aimed to preserve the future of human kind under bioroids’ supervision, while the Human Liberation Front strongly opposes the plan and the very existence of the bioroids. The Front is supported by a radical fringe known as the Argonauts, a terrorist group hiding inside a legendary self-propelled city-fortress. But very little is known about the Argonauts, and their leader. Alcides is a man who reportedly died when the maritime industrial nation of Poseidon bombed the Argonauts’ fortress 20 years ago. Yeah, that’s quite a lot of back history, which is spooled out during the show, so you don’t flunk history class.
The opening credits are a tip-off as well. Aside from all the mythological references, you notice that the images are Hercules and his 12 Labors. In fact, the episodes detail each of the labors, although how they tie in, say, the Augean Stables, to what they are doing in the show is a bit of a stretch. Also, in regards to the theme song, it is a rather creepy version of “Stranger in Paradise”, but I assume that is part and parcel to the overall plan, to let us know that the future cannot proceed with the prejudices of the past dogging them.
Most of the time, you see the interpersonal relationship between Duenan and Briareos. She has a double tragic background and he survived a horrific explosion by undergoing a full cyborg replacement. His personality is still there, but he is, really, a robot. Initially, we do not see how all of these events are connected, but as the show goes on, it does become clearer. But ESWAT seems unable to do more than mop up and containment; they never really achieve their goals of stopping the movement. And the last three real episodes are like Vermont in April, as the sap is really running.
The ending for the series reminded me of a conversation in the old TV show, “Get Smart”, where Maxwell wants to know why Siegfried, Kaos’ top agent, became such an evil spy. All Siegfried ever wanted was a sled when he was a child. He begged and begged his parents, but he never got one, and this hardened his heart. But they were living in Florida at the time. The show is like that. The evil person’s whole motivation is so shockingly marginal as to completely negate all that the show had presented before.
Adding to the problems is the CG. It is everything I dislike about CG: jerky movements, unnatural actions, obvious blinking eyes and a general chock-a-block approach to things. It was really rough around the edges and I do not think that was part of the original plans. I tried to put it aside for the show, but little problems kept cropping up that reminded you it was CG. Again, the only honest thing going for the show was the working and casual relationship between them two. Things don’t run smooth, work gets in the ways, a day off is never a day off, these aspects save the show from sinking in on itself, but it still rides low in the water.
It is a 13 show run, with the last episode as a “Darker Than Black #26” approach, as to where do we stick in a silly episode and it is that kind of show. Although it was nice to watch, there really isn’t a lot to promote this show, even when you have your three-hankie episode (Episode #4) to show who can be more human.
On a scale of 1 to 10:
Artwork 6 (Feels forced with the 3D)
Plot 6 (Lacked overall cohesion)
Pacing 6 (Uncertain as to why they did it that way)
Effectiveness 6 (Couldn’t tie the strings together)
Conclusion 5 (It ended, but not well)
Fan Service 0 (A similar show would be “Honey and Clover”)
Overall 6 (Too many unanswered questions)
And remember, it’s first run until you’ve seen it. When do I get a day off?
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