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. 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 Woo*
Which explains the pigeons and the extreme akimbo.
.It also has a CGI anime series named Appleseed XIII. The series is produced 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.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.
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.
Composite Character: Tereus from Ex Machina has elements of both Briareos and Fang from the manga. Makes sense, seeing as he's a clone of the former.
Conspicuous CG: XIII contains a rather strange variant of this - the characters and objects are CG, while several backgrounds are rendered through traditional means.
Continuity Nod: The final episode "Paradisius" in Appleseed XIII directly references the plot of the 2004 movie.
Considering that all of the events related to the Gaia malfunction were just a simulation, it's more of a Mythology Gag, as the films and the anime are otherwise not related.
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: 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.
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.
Empire, The: The American Empire in the manga (they just left it as "USA" in the film, they didn't want to make anyone angry)
Not in Appleseed XIII. While in a City of Spies, Deunan notes that there are several American Imperial intelligence agents, as well as European Union intelligence.
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.
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.
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 busses in addition to their Wave Motion Gun.
The Movie has Dunan pursued by two tanks mounted with gatling guns.
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.
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.
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.
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!").
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.
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.
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.
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.
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. And 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.
7th Episode Twist: Episode 7 of XIII has the pilot of the rogue Hecatonchires Landmate turn out to be Deia.
Shout Out: Ex Machina has a scene very similar to the shooting range scene in Robocop, but takes it Up to Eleven by showing Briareos multitasking capability.
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".
Trailers Always Spoil: If you are at all interested in watching Appleseed XIII, then do NOT, for the love of God, watch the trailer Funimation released on their Youtube channel as it spoils one of the biggest plot twists of the series loudly and proudly. * Namely, that Deia is the Big Bad.
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.