Yesterday, IGN posted a trailer for Appleseed Alpha, the latest entry to the world penned by Masamune Shirow in 1985. The film, which is pegged as “a reboot that will depict the early days of Deunan and Briareos in search of the legendary city of Olympus,” will be directed by Shinji Aramaki (Appleseed (2004), Bubblegum Crisis). The soundtrack will include a selection of tracks from a star-studded lineup of electronica artists, which includes Yasutaka Nakata (Capsule), Skrillex & Alvin Risk, Androp, DJ Fumiya (Rip Slyme), Passepied, Q;indivi+, tofubeats, AKLO, 80KIDZ, Nishi-ken, and Ram Rider.
The film is slated to hit stores on DVD and Blu-Ray on July 22, 2014. The release will include eleven making-of featurettes, which detail the entire production process. The film’s digital version will be released on July 15, exactly one week before the physical editions are set to line store shelves.
But before we go on, let’s take a look at the trailer:
Visually, the film looks impressive. However, I do have to question Deunan’s choice of attire on the battlefield:
I don’t know about you, dear reader, but a giant, chest-sized hole in the middle of a kevlar vest doesn’t exactly scream “protection.”
Joking aside, it’s hard to really say how the film will fare, at this point. All anybody can really do is predict the final quality from a selection of carefully selected cuts and shots that will undoubtedly highlight the strongest moments of the film proper.
That said, there are a few interesting things that we can observe, the most obvious being the visual style. As in previous years, Appleseed Alpha will be a CG film. Unlike its recent predecessors, though, Alpha opts to shed the cel-shaded look for a more gritty, realistic aesthetic. Previously, we did receive a hint that this would be the case in a frame that was released to IGN in February.
However, the trailer gave us the first real look at the film’s overall aesthetic, which is quite promising. While the change in style is jarring at first, the characters look to be strong updates to Shirow’s classic designs (though Deunan is certainly channeling a bit of Miley Cyrus in her new incarnation). The landscapes displayed are simply gorgeous. The ruined, crumbling cityscapes and dusty deserts that ooze character.
Musically, Appleseed Alpha looks to channel the 2004 film on a more “spiritual” level.
Don’t laugh. Yes, the film will have Skrillex. Yes, there’s dubstep. Hear me out, first. The soundtrack for the 2004 film was a tour de force of electronic music. Artists like Atom, Paul Oakenfield, and the Boom Boom Satellites studded the film’s score, which helped to really solidify the vibe of the film proper. The big beat tracks gave a visceral punch to action scenes, while the house compositions gave a playful, unique flavor to more low-key segments. Then there was the intro, featuring Basement Jaxx’s Good Luck, which was just a wonderful way to introduce the gleaming city of Olympus.
In this light, it looks as if Appleseed Alpha will follow the same model. Times have changed since the first film came out, though, and the prominent figures in electronica have shuffled. Because of this, it seems almost natural that we’d see at least one prominent dubstep artist included into the film’s soundtrack.
It will be interesting to see if Aramaki can catch lightning in a bottle for a third time with Appleseed Alpha. He is certainly capable of crafting a compelling narrative with the franchise, and the idea of a prequel does open a number of possibilities for both character exploration and world-building. When it releases in July, though, the film will be held against the legacy of its predecessors. Both Appleseed and Appleseed: Ex Machina set a high bar for computer-generated anime films for the early part of the 2000s, and are still regarded highly today. Such a legacy will be a daunting challenge to face, let alone surpass.
Note: We took a bunch of screens for the front page. I didn’t want to see them go to waste, so I’ve posted the below for your enjoyment.