Appleseed is a four volume Cyber Punk/Mecha manga written between 1985 and 1989 by Shirow Masamune, of Ghost in the Shell fame. It led to OVA and feature film adaptations. Set in post-apocalyptic 22nd century, the story follows the Action Girl Deunan Knute and her cyborg partner and lover Briareos Hecatonchires. The two join the special forces of the Olympus city, an enclave of peaceful life on the planet devastated by the World War III (and recovering from World War IV), whose population consists equally of both normal humans and "bioroids", Artificial Humans with genetically suppressed aggressiveness who act as emotional buffer for the former.The original manga saw Deunan and Briareos join Olympus's counter-terrorism unit ESWAT after being discovered in the wastelands and offered a life in Utopian city in exchange for their combat skills (both were formerly SWAT operatives). The manga follows them as they protect their new home from enemies, both foreign and domestic. Unfortunately, other projects and the loss of much of his notes in a 1995 earthquake left the manga as an Orphaned Series.The one-shot OVAnote a co-production between Studio Gainax and AIC was produced in 1988 and has little in common with the original manga except the setting and the characters. The plot concerns a colleague of Deunan and Briareos, who feels that instead of Utopia, Olympus is a Gilded Cage designed to prevent humans from living a fulfilling life. To destroy this cage, he conspires with a professional terrorist and it's up to Deunan and Briareos to stop them.Sixteen years later, the first feature film was released, directed by Shinji Aramaki. Just like the OVA, it shares little with the original manga and diverges even in the premise: instead of joining ESWAT together, Deunan and Briareos are separated by accident long before coming to Olympus and have to regain mutual trust over the course of the film. The main plot centers on the struggle of two equally extremist racist factions in Olympus, each desiring to destroy either the original humanity, or the bioroids to make way for the other. The movie featured a unique for that time style of animation that seamlessly blended traditional anime designs and CGI and which was later reused in the sequel and an unrelated movie Vexille, produced largely by the same people.Appleseed Ex Machina, the Oddly Named Sequel to the 2004 movie, is set two years after it and sees the idyllic relationship between the protagonists challenged by the introduction of Tereus, a Super Prototype bioroid who is for all intents and purposes a clone of Briareos minus the fact that he didn't have his entire body replaced with cybernetic prosthetics. The situation is worsened when all cyborgs in Olympus (including Briareos) start getting hijacked by a Knight Templar seeking to unite humanity once and for all... in quite an unsettling manner. The producer of the second movie was John Woo. Yes, that John Woonote Which explains the pigeons and the extreme akimbo..It also has a CGI anime series named Appleseed XIII. The series was produced in 2011 by Jinni's Animation Studios in association with Production I.G and under the direction of Takayuki Hamana with Junichi Fujisaku as script supervisor. All 13 episodes of Appleseed XIII can be seen on Funimation's official Youtube channel here. An English dub of the series was released on DVD and Blu-Ray in June 2013.A third CGI film titled Appleseed Alpha was released on July 15, 2014, directed once again by Shinji Aramaki. It is a Prequel film that focuses on Deunan and Briareos before they arrive in Olympus, as they are living in the ruins of New York City doing mercenary work for a local crime boss named Two Horns, until one day on a mission they encounter a Mysterious Waif and her cyborg bodyguard claiming to be on a mission for Olympus.Not to be confused with Johnny Appleseed, or anything else named after the man.Has a character sheet in need of some wiki magic love.
Alternate Continuity: All of the franchise's works (manga, OVA, films, & anime). Only Ex Machina is directly related to something else, being a sequel to the 2004 film. Appleseed Alpha, even though it's a Prequel, still has problems fitting into any of the existing continuities. It is only loosely based off of the manga (only the first chapter bears resemblance to the movie, and it's mostly the tank battle in the urban city), and it certainly doesn't work with the 2004 film & consequently Ex Machina, since in that continuity Deunan & Briareos were separated before coming to Olympus, while in Alpha they are surviving together in the post-war wasteland.
Arm Cannon: Nyx in Alpha has a machine gun built into the palm of her right hand.
Armor Is Useless: In this universe, cyborgs are surprisingly fragile, with pistol rounds being able to take down even largely metallic ones pretty easily ( Talos is almost completely metal, yet Deunan's M1911 does severe damage to him with just a few shots). You'd think becoming a cyborg would make you tougher.
Asshole Victim: Some of the "vampire" victims in XIII Episode 5 are war criminals from Eris (said to have committed genocide and ethnic cleansing).
And I Must Scream: Briareos in Ex Machina when he's being affected by the nanomachines. Try as he might, he's largely unable to fight against it without help. Also anyone affected by the signals, as prior to the mind control kicking in, they grab their head in pain and usually fall to their knees as well.
Anti-Mutiny: In the manga, Athena launches one of these against the Elders once they propose to expand bioroid behavior modification to humanity (sterilization in the movie). Gaia gets the same idea about bioroids in general.
Arc Words: From XIII: "Vengeance belongeth unto me."
Also "paradise", to the point of becoming way overused. See the YMMV page.
Bullet Time: Used extensively in the movies, especially Ex Machina.
But Not Too Foreign: Averted, Deunan once spells out her ancestry for Hitomi and there is a lot of variety (she's mixed-race African on her mother's side), but no Japanese. Shirow has mentioned that she won the genetic lottery as far as physical skills go, which is why her employers and colleagues put up with her eccentricities.
Also subverted in that Shirow Masamune has said in the official databook that he never thought of making Deunan Japanese or partially Japanese
Cavalry Betrayal: There's a bit near the end of Ex Machina where we're led to believe that the Poseidon special-forces are pulling this. Turns out it just took them a while to spot the protagonists in need of rescue, and they turn up shortly afterwards.
Cel Shading: The 2004 movie is entirely in CG with a blend of motion capture and cel shading. Both Ex Machina and XIII also utilize this method.
Chainsaw Good: Briareos wields a freaking chainsword in Ex Machina.
Chekhov's Gun: The broken machine Matthews is trying to fix at the beginning of Alpha (it's a Landmate).
Played straight by Deunan, her exceptional combat ability is the only thing that keeps her from getting killed on multiple occasions. And, not surprisingly, she gets chewed out by both Briareos and her ESWAT platoon leader for it several times.
Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: the cyborg Sokaku, Ex-SAS, Mercenary, EOD specialist... and total tool. While a total genius in his area of expertise, his showboating and comic relief nature trip him up more often than not.
Cyber Cyclops: Subverted. Briareos actually has eight eyes: Four in his face arranged around the big central sensor, two at the bases of his "rabbit ear" sensors, and two at the tips, which allow him to safely look around corners. Oh, and the big central sensor mentioned earlier? That's actually his nose.
Declaration of Protection: Briareos takes his promise to Karl Knute in XIII very seriously, so much that it causes problems in his relationship with Deunan.
Disturbed Doves: Would Ex Machina be a John Woo movie without them? However, there is also a twist to them in this case.
Divided States of America: In 1988, the Cold War came to a peaceful resolution with the formation of the Russo-American Alliance, composed of the 13 colonial states, Ohio, Indiana, Michigan, California, Oregon, Hawaii, and Alaska.
After the 2nd American Civil War in 2016, the United States was once again divided. The United States of America was now comprised of Arizona, New Mexico, Nevada, Colorodo, Utah, Washington, Wyoming, Idaho, Montana, North & South Dakota, Minnesota, and Wisconsin. The extreme right-sided military industrialistic American Empire aka Imperial Americana, took everything else, including Washington D.C.
E-SWAT ended up fighting alongside with the Russo-American Alliance forces against Imperial Americana in the manga.
The Dog Bites Back: It's implied in the 2004 film that General Uranus ratted out the Elders while surrendering to Athena, who quickly confronts the Elders just as they're about to bring about the gradual extinction of humanity.
The End of the World as We Know It: Subverted, as with Ghost in the Shell (which shared a similar Timeline if not outright happening in the same universe), despite two world wars, one of which was nuclear, civilization just kept right on chugging along, without even a die back. That said, the world is still a very chaotic place, and you probably wouldn't want to live there.
Eyepatch of Power: Deunan gets one after damaging one eye of hers during a training accident in Volume IV. She also gets a much more girly, frilly lace eyepatch for civilian wear when she's off-duty at the end of the book.
The Faceless: Talos, Nyx, and their soldiers all have opaque helmets. Averted with Talos at the end, after Deunan shoots him through the faceplate, we get a disturbing look at what's behind the mask.
Fallen States of America: Appleseed Alpha takes place in New York City, which is now a bombed out wasteland crawling with renegade cyborgs and other lowlifes.
False Reassurance: In the first movie the Big Bad (well, one of them) says "no human life would be taken", but that does not mean they won't unleash a virus upon the world that causes sterility; rather, it means no human would die immediately as a direct consequence.
Fantastic Racism: Humans vs. bioroids, and, to a lesser degree, humans vs. cyborgs, but only in the adaptations: practically non-existent in the original manga.
Flawed Prototype: The prototype Spider Gun Platform in Appleseed Alpha is incomplete and difficult to control.
Fragile Speedster: Nyx turns out to be this in Alpha when she fights Briaeros near the end. She is no match for him physically, so she has to rely on a lot of She-Fu and jumping around to dodge his hits. When she does try to match him blow for blow, the results speak for themselves.
Freeze-Frame Bonus: Some close-ups of Talos in Alpha show that his body has the word "Poseidon" stenciled on it, making it extremely likely that he, Nyx, and their team are from that country.
Friend or Foe: The IF Fs of the autonomous combat drones in Alpha either don't work, or nobody remembers how to designate themselves as a friend. Either way, the drones attack everybody.
Future Copter: The transport helicopter that appears in the beginning of the 2004 movie looks very much like a heavily upgraded, futuristic V-22 Osprey. Ex Machina's aircraft seem to use Anti Gravity rather than rotors. Meanwhile, in Alpha, Talos and his team make use of a more contemporary looking V-22 that seems to have had all its design flaws ironed out and is equipped with a chin-mounted machine gun and rocket pods that can launch a Macross Missile Massacre.
Gambit Pileup: Even after repeated rereads, it can be difficult to pick out the specifics of Athena vs. the Council.
Gatling Good: Very good. The giant siege platforms have at least four gatling guns the size of buses in addition to their Wave Motion Gun.
The Movie has Deunan pursued by two tanks mounted with gatling guns. These tanks are lifted directly out of the manga's designs.
The Appleseed Alpha movie demonstrates this again with the urban tank that chases Deunan & Briareos around the ruins of New York City, as well as the gatling guns mounted on the "Ostrich" mechs and the prototype giant spider tank.
Gentle Giant: Briareos when he's off-duty. Makes his predicament in Ex Machina all the more disturbing.
Good Colors, Evil Colors: The eyes of Briareos and other cyborgs changed in colour from red to green between the first and second movies, so that we could see when they were Brainwashed and Crazy thanks to the ominous red glow.
Good Scars, Evil Scars: Argus, the Poseidon officer from Ex Machina, has a long scar covering his permanently-closed left eye that makes him look rather sinister. It's misdirection, though - he's not that bad a guy, and even helps save the world (and, later, our protagonists) by the end of the movie.
Grievous Harm with a Body: Both Deunan and Briareos did that when fighting battle-androids: They ripped off an arm and proceeded to beat the android with it.
Gun Kata: Briareos pulls this off every time he gets more than one gun in Ex Machina. Justified in his insane reflexes and multiple eyes.
Guns Akimbo: in fact, Briareos can shoot three guns at once in Ex Machina: two with his mecha's hands and one with his own.
Just one with his hands because it's a Landmate sized one. He could theoretically use hundreds of weapon systems wired directly to his "brain". His cyborg chassis is named after the Hecatonchires, the hundred-armed giants of Greek mythology, for a reason.
Gun Ship Rescue: Happens in the beginning of the film for Deunan after she gets trapped.
Half the Man He Used to Be: In Alpha, Briaeros defeats Nyx after he is able to retrieve his sniper rifle and blows her in half at point-blank range. Later, Talos comes back for one last act of revenge against Deunan, but Iris drops an automatic door on his spine and chops him in half.
Heel-Face Turn: A bit of a delayed one in Alpha when after Nyx tries to kill Two Horns, he still goes after Briareros and Deunan. It's not until after he gets his rear end handed to him again that he decides it would probably be a better idea to team up with our main duo to take down the Triton commandos.
Hero Tracking Failure: Occurs at the start of the first movie, and receives a brief Call Back in the opening fight of Ex Machina, though that huge gatling gun looked pretty difficult to maneuver even for a cyborg. Alpha does this again during the chase in New York between Briareos and the tank, but not unexpected since Two Horns is on the gun, and he wasn't expecting Briareos to be able to move so fast considering how sluggish he was just the day before.
Humongous Mecha: A 13-foot tall death machine appears in volume 4 of the manga, but is taken apart by just two veteran landmate pilots (and a Tank Cannon).
Ignored Epiphany: After Briareos delivers a Kirk Summation to the Regular Army, everyone realizes what they had almost gotten themselves into... save for Colonel Hades ("I've heard enough—and I'll be damned if I let some machine tell me what to do!").
Ironic Echo: From Alpha: "Hope. What a concept." Interestingly it's said on two different occasions by two characters, both of which could not possibly have known the other said it. And even funnier is that the phrase is directed at the same target, Two Horns.
It's Personal: What blinds Colonel Hades to the fact that his vendetta against Deunan's father for booting him off of LA SWAT, which he hopes will destroy the Bioroids, could actually lead to humanity's extinction.
Karma Houdini: Prime Minister Athena in the movie never has to answer for having mercenaries kill all Deunan's comrades in the wasteland, and trying to capture her alive, and later sending outright assassins after her. She was trying to prevent a genocide, that she feared Deunan could unwittingly partake in, but it seems that Deunan never even gets to learn the truth, let alone decide what she decides to do with it.
The Manga also has her drug the food of a bunch of ex-soldiers brought into the city to gauge their reactions. Of course, given that their ultimate reaction was to jump into their landmates and go on a rampage after Tartarus put the question of her wrongness into doubt.
Likewise General Uranus; he was trying a coup and a genocide, but apparently calling off your attempt at the last minute and saying "sorry" is all that it takes to be forgiven. On the other hand, it was implied that the Elders were manipulating him into taking action and that it was his own race that he was unwittingly endangering (and not the Bioroids like he had thought for most of the film), which might have factored into his rather lenient sentence.
Knife Nut: Deunan grabs her knife when going for the ubercyborg during the Church Shootout in Ex Machina... and kicks his ass badly. She takes out three guys with a very large knife (she insists it's a sword) in the manga, too. In the last episode of XIII she also uses a large folding knife in her Landmate to take out an enemy Landmate. Finally, on foot she also uses a large combat knife to stab a prototype combat robot wrestling with Briareos. Let's just say Deunan really likes her knives.
Lightning Bruiser: Briareos uses (or, more accurately, is built into) the Hecatonchire-class full-body cyborg chassis, a towering juggernaut of a military prototype that is amongst the strongest, toughest rigs ever to exist, and boosts his reflexes to superhuman levels as well.
May-December Romance: In addition to the relationship quirks of dating a cyborg, Briareos is a solid nine years older than Deunan.
Meaningful Name: Several, but Briareos has the most obvious - he's named after one of the three Hecatonchires, the hundred-armed giants who overthrew the Titans. He's also a hulking Lightning Bruiser of a cyborg with sufficiently sophisticated targeting software to wield dozens of weapons at once. In case you missed it the first time, the model name of his chassis spells it out for you.
Mecha Expansion Pack: In the fourth volume of the manga, Briareos uses a series of attachments that basically turns him into a Landmate.
More Dakka Spider Gun Platforms in the manga and OVA, Mobile Fortresses in the first movie.
Multi-Armed and Dangerous: Landmate arms typically act on a Master-Slave system: The Landmate's arms mimic the motions of the operator's real arms, which are usually external (and safely armored). When Briareose hooks into his Mecha Expansion Pack as mentioned above, he can actually control all four arms independently (as any Hecatonchires cyborg could).
No Flow in CGI: Deunan's hair is animated as a number of locks, which moves according to physics, instead of animating every strand separately. Extras and Background models are simpler, and have completely un-animated hair.
No-Nonsense Nemesis: Talos in Alpha when after downloading the information he needs out of Olson's brain, Talos doesn't waste any time gloating about it but simply draws his pistol and empties the mag into Olson, then drops him out of the V-22 at high altitude.
Oh Crap: When the first police team busts through the to arrest the terrorists, just to walk in front of a gatling gun ambush.
Phlebotinum Induced Stupidity: In Ex Machina, Briareos would likely have found unearthing the movie's central conspiracy much easier if the lingering nanite poisoning they used to temporarily take him over hadn't compelled him to take the most stupid, pointless, and needlessly violent actions possible whenever his adrenaline levels spiked. Luckily for him, there's a treatment.
Point Defenseless: Averted in Appleseed Alpha with the prototype Spider Gun Platform, which is bristling with weapons, including dozens of CIWS Phalanx cannons that shoot down the vast majority of the missiles launched at it.
Post-Script Episode: The final episode of Appleseed XIII, "Paradisius," is a rather strange change in tone and has absolutely nothing to do with the main plot thread of the rest of the series, especially since the main plot was already wrapped up in the 12th episode.
Race Lift: Though it's nearly impossible to tell in the manga due to the lack of a... well, a FACE, Briareos is apparently African-American originally, as seen in some artwork Shirow has done (including a very odd-looking beach-scene). In the 2004 film and Ex Machina, Briareos is retconned to be a rather Japanese-looking Bishōnen.
Word of God is that Briareos was Black Caribbean (where, he never specified).
XIII makes him black again. Not just Briareos either; Deunan's mother was white in the 2004 film, but black in XIII (also an indicator that XIII is an Alternate Continuity). This one's a plot point in her Death by Origin Story: she was gunned down for crossing an apartheid line.
Real Men Wear Pink: Implied by way of Fridge Logic in Ex Machina, when Deunan receives a top-of-the-line and very, very pink Landmate from the Poseidon assault team she's working alongside. Meanwhile, the Poseidon commander, Argus, uses the ESWAT model that she turned up in. Now, normally, one would expect him to use his own suit... unless, of course, he'd given it to someone else to pilot instead. Perhaps bubblegum pink is a signifier of rank in Poseidon?
Reasonable Authority Figure: Athena tries to get Deunan killed at the start of the film; however, in truth she didn't know Deunan's role in what was going on at the time, and when the Regular Army comes close to committing genocide she sends her, along with the rest of Kudo's ESWAT unit, on a mission to retrieve the Appleseed (which can save the Bioroid race and was long thought destroyed by Dr. Gilliam until an Elder revealed its existence at an emergency meeting called by Athena to discuss the implications of a terrorist attack on the Bioroid day care center).
Redemption Equals Death: Possibly; it's been theorized that the Elders, realizing that Deunan's determination to preserve the future of humanity came from possibly a purer motive than they had, had entered the last letter of the Mobile Fortress password with the last of their strength, allowing Deunan to save humanity with the push of a button.
Red Shirt Army: Pretty much anyone not named gets killed off rather nonchalantly. And even the lesser named characters may not make it either, particularly if they start sharing their backstory or show any character development. The main characters survive largely thanks to Plot Armor.
As an example, when Deunan, Briareos, and Tereus attack the abandoned research center in Ex Machina, there are a few non-named characters that go with them. The minor characters get killed off rather brutally, while Deunan survives long enough to crash her suit (after jettisoning from it) into one of the enemy suits.
Relationship Upgrade: Inverted in XIII. While Deunan still has feelings for Briareos, Bri seems rather clueless as to how much she cares about him.
Samus Is a Girl: The shocking reveal in XIII of the pilot of the recurring terrorist Landmate. Especially effective since in previous episodes, the mech's loudspeakers used a deep, male voice to speak.
Scary Black Man: In the original manga, Briareos was black before becoming a full-body cyborg.
Two Horns in Alpha is a ruthless cyborg crime boss with a face like an oni mask.
Schizo Tech: In this universe cyborgs and typewriters exist side by side.
Sherlock Scan: All Nyx has to do in Alpha is simply wave her hand over a few spent shell casings to obtain an absurdly detailed picture of a battle that was just fought half an hour ago.
Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism: In Appleseed Alpha, Iris & Olson are very much on the idealistic scale, believing they can build a better world, Deunan is somewhere in the middle, while Briareos is firmly cynical. This flips a bit halfway through after they find Olson's corpse, where Deunan briefly loses hope in finding Olympus, but this leads Briareos to adopt a more idealistic viewpoint if only to keep Deunan's spirits up. The villain, Talos, is far on the cynical scale, believing that Olympus's ideals are nonsense and that humanity needs war to continue existing.
Spider Tank: Spider Gun Platforms, and smaller Spider Drones.
The Stinger: Appleseed Alpha has a post-credits scene where it's revealed Iris was a bioroid clone based off of Hitomi, and she doesn't plan to send any forces from Olympus to pick up Deunan & Briareos - at least, not yet.
Too Dumb to Live: The whole plot of Ex Machina is solely driven by lots of highly stupid decisions by anyone involved. Possibly hundreds of thousands of deaths could have been avoided if the PSAs not said "might pose a risk to health" but "will turn you into cyber-zombies and might force the police to kill you".
Turn in Your Badge: General Uranus in the movie does so without being told to after Briareos warns him that he and the Regular Army were really the Unwitting Pawns to the Elders.
Unorthodox Reload: Briareos has spare magazines stored in his forearms in Ex Machina.
The Unreveal: In Alpha, it's uncertain exactly why Briareos's software was malfunctioning at the beginning of the film. They float two possibilities about whether Matthews may have sabotaged him deliberately to keep him indebted to Two Horns, or if it was just normal wear and tear. But Deunan and Bri don't spend much time dwelling on it, figuring it doesn't matter so long as the problem's fixed. At least, in that part of the film. In the final arc Matthews flat-out admits that Two Horns made him do it, but since he's arriving as part of The Cavalry, bringing Duenan a rebuilt Land-mate with him, the matter is quickly dropped.
The Verse: Ghost in the Shell and Appleseed both take place in the same continuity, despite being more than a hundred years apart in the setting (and Appleseed's comparable downgrade in technology since it was written first.) Appleseed established numerous geo-political settings and details used in Ghost in the Shell, such as the existence of the Human Liberation Front organization, the United States of America, Imperial America, & the Russo-American Alliance, Bioroids, and animal-themed mecha and vehicles (though this is a staple of Shirow Masamune in general), among other things.
Villainous Breakdown: Talos starts losing control of the situation in Alpha when he forces Iris to activate the prototype spider tank, but 1) it's only about 2/3 complete and extremely difficult to control and 2) it's on a pre-programmed course to go straight to New York City and self-destruct.
Visionary Villain: Talos in Alpha has a grand vision to rebuild the world and bring order to a shattered globe, though exactly how he plans to do that is a bit muddy. Said vision would also entail getting rid of undesirable elements such as Two Horns and his gang. His plan at least definitely has something to do with a superweapon from the pre-war period, specifically an Arachnoid-class land battleship that was under construction by the U.S. government that was halted when America lost the war.
We Used to Be Friends: Maybe not friends, but Olson and Talos knew each other before the events of Alpha by way of working on the same project to find and disarm pre-war superweapons such as the American land battleship.
Work Off the Debt: This is the major reason why Deunan and Briaeros are working for Two Horns in Alpha, as he was apparently responsible in some way for saving Briareos's life and getting him a cyborg body.