Appleseed Ex Machina (Ekusu makina) (2007)

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Released 11-Sep-2008

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Anime Main Menu Audio & Animation
Audio Commentary-Producer and Animation Expert
Featurette-Team Up: John Woo & Shinji Aramaki
Featurette-Revolution: Animating Ex Machina
Featurette-The Appleseed Chronicles
Featurette-East Meets West
Theatrical Trailer
Trailer-12 Madman Trailers
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2007
Running Time 100:08 (Case: 104)
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (49:08)
Dual Disc Set
Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Shinji Aramaki
Studio
Distributor

Madman Entertainment
Starring Ai Kobayashi
Kôichi Yamadera
Yûji Kishi
Kong Kuwata
Shinpachi Tsuji
Gara Takashima
Rei Igarashi
Rica Fukami
Takaya Hashi
Miyuki Sawashiro
Yasuyuki Kase
Takaya Kuroda
Naoko Kouda
Case Amaray-Transparent-Dual
RPI ? Music Haruomi Hosono
Tetsuya Takahashi
Miuccia Prada


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Japanese Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.85:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
English for the Hearing Impaired
Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits Yes

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    Appleseed Ex Machina picks up four years after the original Appleseed, and presents a wholly seperate story featuring many of the same heroes from the original film.

    The year is 2135, and the giant city Olympus is still heavily under construction following world war three. A powerful, networked artificial intelligence named Gaia manages both the development and day-to-day operations of the city.

    Deunan, a feisty female police officer, and Briareos, a cool-as-a-cucumber "Bioroid" cyborg, are senior officers on the city's action packed E.S.W.A.T. (Especial Weapons And Tactics) team. They're also lovers. Also joining the E.S.W.A.T. team is Tereus, a genetically engineered clone who was produced from none other than the DNA of Briareos. Tereus looks identical to a Briareos before he became a brain inside a big tin can. In cartoon-land, that there is what we call sexual tension. There's nothing like a bit of soap to push things along.

    E.S.W.A.T. have been kept busy by a series of terrorist attacks by malfunctioning industrial machines, including the robotic component of bioroids, that are believed to be masterminded by an evil group of bioroids. One such attack sees Briareos go beserk and results in him being placed behind bars (well, a futuristic energy field), which is no place to be solving a high-concept mystery. It is not long before his daring escape tests the loyalties of the E.S.W.A.T. team and plenty of bullets fly as the rogue members of the team track down the real source of the attacks.

    Appleseed Ex Machina tells a fairly routine sci-fi conspiracy story. Both the characters and plot are underexplored, with a particular focus on flashy action sequences to drive the film. Sadly, this is quite the opposite to the original Appleseed, which featured intricately detailed machinations on man, machine and the combination of the two. That said, the stylish, kinetic action sequences are beatifully realised and the visuals are truly spectacular throughout the whole film. John Woo's input, doves and all, is frequently identifiable when the bullets fly, which is sure to please many viewers.

    Appleseed Ex Machina will satiate fans of mecha-action anime, but isn't likely to win any new fans to the genre.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The film is presented in its original 1.85:1 aspect ratio and is 16x9 enhanced.

    The video generally looks very good, however compression related artefacts are noticeable in some of the backgrounds

    The image is quite sharp. There is a good level of detail in the blacks and dark areas.

    The colours are beautifully realised in this transfer and really show off the cell shading style of colouring to the best extent you are likely to see on DVD.

    Macro blocking is present in many of the backgrounds throught the film, but to an extent that will only be noticeable on particularly large displays. A mild degree of colour banding artefacts are present in the background of many of the scenes. Most viewers will not be distracted by these artefacts. There is no sign of film artefacts in the video (in fact, I would be surprised if this CGI film was transferred from film).

    Bold, yelow English subtitles are present for the feature. The subtitles mirror the English dialogue, rather than appearing to be direct translation of the Japanese (though I don't speak Japanese to confirm this, the English dialogue is well formed and colloquial to the extent it is highly unlikely to be a word-for-word translation).

    This is a RSDL disc. The layer break occurs at 49:08 but was not noticeable on my equipment.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    A English and Japanese Dolby Digital 5.1 (448 Kbps) audio tracks are present for the film.

    The audio is of a very high standard on this disc. The dialogue is clear and the surround mix aggressive.

    The dialogue in each audio stream is clear and at a good level in the mix. There are no issues with audio sync, save for the level of discrepancy you would normally expect in an animated film that has been dubbed into two different languages.

    The film features a high energy soundtrack by electronic guru Paul Oakenfold. The music is beautifully timed to the video, so much so that many of the action sequences would probably work just as well as a music video.

    The surrounds are used aggresively during the many action sequences of the film and create an immersive environment outside of those ballistic action segments. The subwoofer gets a great workout, though there isn't a lot of subtlety to its use.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

    A modest assortment of extras, all on a second disc save for the commentary, each presented in a 1.78:1 aspect and in English (with Japanese and Chinese interviews dubbed rather than subbed).

Audio Commentary with Producer Joseph Chou and Historian Jerry Beck

    Jerry Beck, a widely published animation historian, leads Joseph Chou, one of the film's army of producers, through a sparse commentary on the film. The pair mainly cover technical issues and the themes of the film rather than the story and characters. When he has anything to say, Chou is quite affable and interesting. He is happy to discuss many of the elements of the film that have sparked controversy among die-hard anime purists, such as the film's use of motion capture, and is surprisingly unbiased. A worthwhile, though unessential, commentary for fans and sci-fi nerds.

Team Up: John Woo & Shinji Aramaki Featurette (16:27)

    A mash note to Producer John Woo and director Shinji Aramaki. After spending most of the featurette telling us how awesome the pair are individually, we are reassured that they worked really well together and respected the bounds of each others' roles. Ho hum.

Revolution: Animating Ex Machina Featurette (18:39)

    A good feature about the animation process and unique style of the film, particularly its use of cell shading to keep a traditional anime look to the CGI (and a few friendly stabs at Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within).

The Appleseed Chronicles Featurette (19:47)

    A rather interesting, though particularly Western, chronicle of the history of the Appleseed franchise, from manga to TV and onto films.

East Meets West Featurette (18:39)

    An overlong featurette about how Japanese culture and entertainment are influencing the kids in the west nowadays. A handful of the people featured in the other featurettes on the disc

Theatrical Trailer (1:36)

    A short, action packed trailer for the film.

Madman Trailers

    A huge number of trailers for other Madman anime and live action releases.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    The Region 4 edition is the same as the Region 1 2-disc edition, save for the two containing a different set of trailers for other movies and PAL/NTSC formatting differences. A single disc edition is available in Region 1, which is identical to the first disc of this release.

Summary

    A very pretty fighting-robot anime, filled with action but light on story. Fans of the original Appleseed will be equal parts happy and disappointed with this sequel as the action is a significant improvement on the original but the story lacks the depth of its predecessor.

    The video looks good, but suffers from mild compression artefacts. The audio is excellent. The extras reasonable in number, but erratic in quality.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Adam Gould (Totally Biolicious!)
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
Review Equipment
DVDSony Playstation 3, using HDMI output
Display Samsung 116cm LA46M81BD. Calibrated with THX Optimizer. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 576i (PAL).
Audio DecoderPioneer VSX2016AVS. Calibrated with Video Essentials/Digital Video Essentials.
AmplificationPioneer VSX2016AVS
Speakers150W DTX front speakers, 100W centre and 4 surround/rear speakers, 12 inch PSB Image 6i powered sub

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