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A Shirow Marathon - Elf M. Sternberg
A Shirow Marathon
This weekend, the kids were mostly interested in doing their own things. I tried a few times to get them involved in a game of Uno or something, but nah, they just wanted to play by themselves, so I subjected myself to a Masamune Shirow marathon: I watched the entire second season of Ghost in the Shell: Standalone Complex and Appleseed 2004. And I just gotta say: wow. Amazing wow.

GitS:SAC2 was a visual feast and, for transhumanists, intellectual dessert. The deliberate emergence of AIs, the transpositions of bioroid for android, the unification of ideas and memories and the questions about whether or not memories and reactions are enough to engender substrate indepedence, plus really good animation and excellent action sequences. Absolutely worth the eight-plus hours I put into watching.

And then there was Appleseed. I didn't like the animation quite so much; it was done completely in computer graphics, although the artists avoided the problems that plagued Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within by making the characters more manga-esque. The CG effects, though, provided for some eye-popping combat sequences that make the Matrix movies look like child's play. The fight scene where Duenan takes on two urban-terrain cybertanks with eight-barreled cannons is just astounding. The end battle, which in the original featured our heroes against a single megastructure cybertank, is much, much bigger and noiser this time.

And although the movie centered around macguffins similar to its predecessor (Appleseed, 1996), they could be forgiven in the context of the film and weren't badly handled. Duenan's relationship with Briearios is much messier than it was in the original, too, which makes it feel more honest. The animation's problem came during the dialogue; the mouths just don't move right and Hitomi's facial expression never changed. At least she's not a whiny drunk in this version.

All in all, given that I haven't watched more than an hour or two of TV in the past two months, I don't think this was too much of an overdose. And it was all good.

I will also mention that somewhere in there I watched the first half-hour of Revenge of the Sith and had a bad reaction to it. I really don't care what happens to Skywalker.

Current Mood: tired tired
Current Music: Gabriela Robin, Cyberbird

5 comments or Leave a comment
From: (Anonymous) Date: January 9th, 2006 05:13 pm (UTC) (Link)


Ah, Appleseed.

That was one of the first anime I was ever exposed to. I forgot it for many years -- remembering only the gigantic solar-collector faces of Tartarus and Daedalus -- until one day I happened upon the trailer for the remake.

I then spent almost two years looking for a copy of the original on DVD. (Yes, I did find it.)

Sometime after acquiring my copy of the original, I found a fansub of Appleseed 2004. It came subtitled in a rather roundabout fashion... it was apparently translated from Japanese to Chinese and then to English. And there was the 'Johnny Dangerously (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0087507/) Tank'.

(Quoting Danny Vermin: "It shoots through schools.")

Well, perhaps it wasn't ever a school... but it certainly chewed through that building without any trouble. The gun looks like a GAU-8 mounted on a Striker body. (I wonder if it's given the Army any ideas?)

I have since bought both the standard version of the 2004 remake and one of the two-disc 'special editions'. I actually liked the translation the (I assume they were Chinese) fans did better compared to the official release -- some of the dialogue they put in Deunan's mouth is downright painful. I mean, "...gravity control through high-frequency oscillation"? That's just... ouch.

I like to lend the 2004 version out with enthusiastic comments about the tank battle in the beginning with no mention of the mobile gun platforms at the end. Invariably I have received the movie back with comments something like "Why didn't you tell me about the giant crab gun-things?!?"

Well, it just wouldn't be right if I spoiled the ending, would it?

elfs From: elfs Date: January 9th, 2006 09:17 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Appleseed

I gotta ask: what was up with Duenan in the opening? I mean, she was even more of a stupendous badass than she was in the first flick. They never quite explained why she was supposed to be so kick-ass compared to everyone else.

And the supertanks: I liked the wheels. They were gimbled and spherical, giving the tanks a turn radius no bigger than its own diagonal, and fast. Very Shirow, that.
From: (Anonymous) Date: January 10th, 2006 01:42 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Appleseed

Perhaps it's an effort to underscore her position as the savior character? As in the "she's the only one strong enough to save your sorry asses from the mess that you created" type of character? Compound her strength with the rest of the story and it emphasizes the dire gravity of Olympus's situation.

Perhaps it's a commentary on precisely how bad the world has become, and how much one has to cast off their humanity to survive there. Not to say this has any bearing whatsoever on it, but the remake was made in a world where extraordinary terrorist attacks are a very recent memory.

It looks very much like the same kind of strength displayed by Major Kusanagi at the end of the original Ghost in the Shell movie where she goes up against that tank... and starts tearing it apart (bare handed!) to her own detriment.

But this is all just me speculating. I really have no idea. But I sure love those strong -- yet tortured and angsty! -- female lead characters.


Now, about that tank... It's quick, agile, highly situationally aware and possessing of enormous firepower. Just like Deunan Knute. But it's made of metal and flesh always wins... with some help from above, of course.

I so wanted to model that thing for use in Unreal Tournament 2004, but I simply haven't had the time.

srmalloy From: srmalloy Date: January 10th, 2006 12:24 am (UTC) (Link)
I think, having watched the entirety of Revenge of the Sith, that while the movie does explain Anakin's transformation into Vader, the "because Anakin is a typical whiny teenager, who happens to have more power than is good for him, and he listens to the self-serving scumbag who plays to his ego" falls flat, with no one in the Jedi Order being able to see what's happening to him. Yes, it ties up the loose ends, but it lacks believability.
From: (Anonymous) Date: January 10th, 2006 08:03 pm (UTC) (Link)
>GitS:SAC2 was a visual feast and, for transhumanists, intellectual dessert

(giggle) At first I misread as 'desert', and I thought, "Huh? That's *harsh*!"
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