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Appleseed Review

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Terrorists attempt to revolutionise the cyber-city of Olympus.

★★★★

Celebrated manga artist Masamune Shirow is responsible for the strips Black Magic, Dominion and Appleseed. The latter - his magnum opus - currently runs to four half-inch thick volumes in translated English language versions, with an accompanying Appleseed Databook due out shortly. Sensibly, this anime simplifies its impossibly complex plot into a spin-off tale which neatly fits a feature's running time.

In the 22nd Century, following World War III, the high-tech city of Olympus is designed for, run by and populated largely with artificial humanoids known as bioroids. The few human residents, including female SWAT policewoman Deunan and her cyborg companion Bularios, are uneasy about the bioroids' contentment with a staus quo which regards progress as a threat. When anti-bioroid terrorists board a prototype multipede cannon, off-line Olympus' controlling computer defence system so that it no longer operates the insect-like tank, and vent their frustrations on the city in an all-out attack, Deunan and Bularios' defence of Olympus is lent a compelling dramatic edge by the complex emotions underpinning the demands of their job.

Aided by a more engaging English language dub than usual, this is a little thin in the mecha mayhem department, building up to a huge climactic battle, which is over almost before it's started. Such minor objections pale into insignificance, however, beside the otherwise impressive pacing, backed up by solid characterisation. This further scores by emphasising the familiar genre trappings of the police state against Shirow's well-thought out futuristic, cyberpunk backdrop.

Intelligent enough to stand alongside the greatest dystopian science fiction movies.

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