DVD
Appleseed

Starring (voice): Larissa Murray, Bill Roberts, David Reynolds and Lorelei King
Manga Entertainment UK
RRP: £9.99
MANG2053
Certificate: 15
Available 14 November 2005


After the devastation of World War III, the scattered governments of the world have engineered a modern utopia - a refuge governed by artificially created half-human, half-robot Biodroids. However, the carefully controlled and heavily monitored life inside Olympus is not for everyone. Unable to cope with life inside the gilded cage, a rash of suicides among citizens relocated from the exterior wastelands heralds a desperate plot by a dedicated band of terrorists to destroy Gaia - Olympus' near-omnipotent central computer, and restore freedom to mankind. It's up to Olympus' SWAT team leader Deunan Knute and her fellow officers to unravel the terrorists' plans and preserve paradise...

Appleseed (or to give it it's original Japanese title, AppurushÓdo) from 1988 is an artful, but not 100% accurate adaptation of Shirow's best-selling manga, and a clear visual and thematic precursor to Shirow's later, and much more well known Ghost In The Shell.

Call me an old cynic... but do you think that this version, from 1988, is being released to cash in on the 2004 reworking that was also released this year (2005)? Manga has already released this version on DVD (in 2002) and I can't say that I noticed any real difference with this reissue - there's certainly no extra content on the disc.

Extras include an exceptionally high quality audio commentary by Jonathan Clements (co-author of The Anime Encyclopaedia) and Larissa Murray (English dub voice of Deunan), photo gallery, characters biographies and trailers. Audio options include English 2.0, English 5.1 and Japanese 2.0.

I'm going to talk a little bit about the audio commentary - something I rarely do, as the majority are so dull these days. This has to be about the most interesting commentary I've heard yet on any DVD release. Clements (Hang on a mo! Is that the same Clements that was responsible for writing some of Big Finish's classic Judge Dredd audios?) certainly knows his onions when it comes to Manga. There wasn't a wasted minute, as he reeled off interesting facts and comparisons between the original manga and the movie adaptation. It was fascinating to hear, amongst other things, why the character of Briareos was changed to Bularids for this feature.

In fact, I felt a little sorry for Murray - who contributed quite a bit at the start, but was then left to agree and laugh her way through the rest of the commentary. This wasn't her fault. She dubbed her lines years ago and, when Clements explains how dubbing works in the UK, you soon realise that Murray would probably have known nothing about the movie before she went into the studio to record her lines (actors are not usually given a script before hand) and the whole process of recording wouldn't have taken very long.

As I mentioned before, it seems a little odd that this has been re-released without any extra content, but if you don't already own this, it's well worth getting hold of.

Nick Smithson

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£7.49 (Amazon.co.uk)
   
£9.49 (Thehut.com)

All prices correct at time of going to press.