Shin Force | Appleseed OVA

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Shin Force ~ The All Sega Site ~ Review
Geoffrey Duke
Manga Video
Bandai Visual
Yumiko Horasawa
Masamune Shirow
70 min
Sci-fi / Mecha
  • English / Japanese audio
  • English subtitles
  • Full Screen
  • Dolby Digital 5.1
  • Manga Previews
  • Character Bios

         > The Appleseed OVA (original video animation) is based on the Manga comics of the same name by Masamune Shirow, which were actually inspired by the book Brave New World written by Aldous Huxley. Brave New World is set in a future totalitarian state where war and illnesses have become a thing of the past, and where every physical desire is catered for. To maintain the delicate balance achieved by this new world order, the human population is created via genetic engineering rather than born. A person's appearance, intelligence and future career are determined from birth, people are conditioned through messages delivered during sleep, and drugs provide all the pleasure they will ever need. 

         > The themes of Brave New World and Appleseed are quite similar in that constant pleasure in a pacified paradise is no substitute for freedom. After the world was reduced to rubble during the third world war, an experimental city called Olympus was built in order to bring together the remaining people of the world who were torn apart by war. Watched over by a supercomputer called GAIA, this city is populated by both artificial humans otherwise known as biodroids created to serve humanity, and humans brought in from the outside world towards that end. Despite their newfound peaceful surroundings, some humans are discontent with what is supposed to be a perfect society; even though everything is provided for, the biodroid government under-estimated the human need for true freedom. Freedom that some are willing to obtain at any price. The OVA is basically the story of the conflict between human extremists and the biodroids governing the city that inevitably ensues. The central characters of the Appleseed OVA are Dunan (an uncompromisingly strong-willed female character for a change) and Buliaros, two humans (well Buliaros is now part man, part machine after sustaining injuries in a prior conflict) who are members of the Olympian SWAT team. As such, they are on the front lines in the fight against terrorist activities which now threaten to throw Olympus into complete chaos...

         > I especially liked the Appleseed OVA because I found myself empathizing with the villains of the movie, and even sympathized with the plight of the rogue cop, Karon (strange name for a guy), who felt that humanity was caged in a prison of its own making - that humans had become unwitting prisoners. He and his wife came to the city of Olympus to enjoy the peace and safety it provided, yet his wife was slowly suffocating in such a controlled environment where there was nothing left to strive for, and threw herself out of the window of their tall apartment building to rid herself of her growing despair. She wished she was as free as a bird. After losing everything that ever meant anything to him, Karon was left disillusioned with this so-called perfect city. In the end, he was willing to do all the wrong things (aid murdering rebels, and even kill others when he was left with no other choice himself) for what he believed were all the right reasons (to free humanity from its own self-imposed shackles). Noble villains are the best characters that anyone can ever envision (in my opinion anyway) because we are invited to wonder what drove such people to take such drastic measures. Haunted by his wife's suicide, Karon was convinced that GAIA and the biodroids had a hidden agenda to control all aspects of human life. He was sooner prepared to die than allow anyone other than humans to have control over humanity's destiny.

         > In Appleseed where the defenders of the status quo sometimes placed no value on the lives of the sentient biodroids (after all, who cares if an artificial human is killed if you can simply clone a replacement?) and probed people's memories against their will, I began to wonder who the true villains really were. The struggle to live in a free society portrayed in this film from the villains' point of view reflects what it means to be human; it shows the lengths we are willing to go to ensure that no one encroaches on our own personal sense of freedom. From the Olympians' perspective, we see how far they are willing to go to maintain a society free from war. The question is: where do you draw the line? There's a part in the OVA where Karon releases a bird into the air, freeing it from its protective cage, which beautifully summarizes the theme of the film. One could argue that humans only abuse their freedom, and therefore need to be kept on a short leash, but some of us would rather walk down a free path wherever it takes us than allow anything to stand in our way. Even an ostensibly peaceful city with all the trappings of a paradise which caters to your every whim. That's just typical human nature; if you're not truly free, then what difference does it make? You can't cage the human spirit.

    Bottom Line:
         > Appleseed has succeeded in earning a place in my fondest memories, and will almost certainly remain there for the foreseeable future. So what if it's a cop drama? I like cop dramas. As for the technical aspects of the OVA, the animation itself, which bears all the hallmarks of late 80s' anime, is par for the course. The English voice acting is by no means bad for the time either (at least the characters don't speak in complete monotone), and the music is quite thrilling in some places. I mustn't forget to mention that there's some occasional profanity to give the film an added touch of realism, too. The story is pushed forward by frequent dialogue and infrequent occurrences of explosive action with people shooting at one another in armored suits which typify Japanese animation (anime). If you haven't seen this film, then you don't know what you're missing. It isn't action-packed enough to warrant action-movie status, but the story speaks to the human condition, and that's more than enough for me. Those of you who feel that an anime is nothing without something exploding every five seconds obviously need to learn how to appreciate the finer things in life.
    Overall: 90%
    ~ Geoffrey Duke ~

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