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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Wednesday, Oct. 1, 2014

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Anime film "Appleseed Alpha" was released on DVD, digital and Blu-ray today.
Anime film "Appleseed Alpha" was released on DVD, digital and Blu-ray today.

"Appleseed Alpha" sets up animated world in spectacular detail

If about a quarter of the way through you forget you're watching an animated feature, the film did one of two things very well. Either the story pulled you in with well-developed characters in exciting situations, or the animation is just that good.

Both are true of "Appleseed Alpha."

It is as stunning in its animated detail as it is an entertaining story.

"Appleseed Alpha" is the third full-length animated film, following "Appleseed" and "Appleseed Ex Machina." The "Alpha XIII" broadcast series was re-edited into two films as well.

What is different here, in this prequel, is that it tells the story of the main characters -- soldier Deunan and bioroid Briareos, who used to be her boyfriend – in a time after the war ended. All too often stories about soldiers of fortune end when the final battle is won. We never get to see what happens to the winners and losers after the fighting is ended. In "Appleseed Alpha," we realize that both sides never won the battle of World War III.

In the other two films, we find our couple in Olympus, working in the structured military command. In this film, they are mercenaries only living in the moment, doing what they need to survive. By the end of the film they have purpose … they’ve found a reason to keep going, just to see if Olympus even exists.

The detail spent on the lighting, the renditions of the backgrounds, the textiles of clothing and the camera perspectives are breathtaking. There has been decades of technological development in the world of CGI crammed in these last few years. In this animated film, first available on DVD, digital and Blu-ray today, we get to see these animation skills at its best.

I had the opportunity to review the Sony Home Entertainment Blu-ray over the weekend.

As with Japanese anime, the films developed for the western world have a pace or feel that we’ve come to expect out of most of the average movies we like … think of the common summer blockbuster. But the Appleseed world is a story from Japanese author Masamune Shirow and it is meant for a Japanese audience. The story is more about the journey, than it is about the outcome in the end.

Those who enjoy CG-animated films will enjoy "Appleseed Alpha" as well. But those who have an appreciation and cultural sensibility for magna tales like Shirow’s "Ghost In The Shell" will truly enjoy the journey Deunan and Briareos take to get to the Olympus they know from the previous films.

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