Direction: Right to Left
by: Masamune Shirow
Publisher: Dark Horse Manga
World War III is over, and nomad soldier Duenan Knute and her cyborg partner Briareos struggle to survive in the abandoned cities and demilitarized zones of the post-war wasteland, the "Badside." Matters appear on the upswing, however, when they are found and brought to Olympus, an urban utopia and centrepiece for the reconstruction of civilization. Duenan and Bri join the Olympus police, a force that seems hardly necessary in such a paradise. But, like in most pretty pictures, perfection is an illusion, and Olympus’s peaceful facade hides a dark secret, a violent struggle between human and cyborg that could once again plunge the world into war . . . and genocide.
The heroine Duenan Knute. is everything I love in a character. She’s strong (physically), strong willed, and a little bit insane. I also like how her strengths and weaknesses balance out, with neither one over powering either her, or her personality. I was however a bit disappointed with the way they softened her later on with love, but i still like her.
Briareos Hecatonchires is Duenan’s partner, and also her lover. He’s more down to earth and thoughtful than Duenan is and tends try and be a temporising force on her. He’s dependable, and dedicated, as well as one tough guy. In the third and fourth volumes he does go through some changes, which make him less likely, but still an interesting character.
Appleseed is an excellent manga series that, quite frankly, could have been amazing. The first two volumes of the series have an amazing flow. Shirow introduces an excellent story with two really likeable characters. The characters are introduced really well, and as the story passes their personalities come across without stifling the supporting characters, or the story.
Post-apocalyptic stories aren’t usually my cup of tea, I’ve always preferred either high fantasy type stories, or josei, yet it’s hard not to like this series. Personalities wise Duenan and Briareos are great match, their personalities don’t clash, to much, nor do they come across as forced.
The first two volumes are dedicated to setting up both of the leads in their new roles. Taking them from the “Badside” to their new homes. Introducing them to the new way of life, and setting them up in their roles as SWAT officers.
I liked the way this was done, though, as I’ve found often in short series, it does feel a bit fast. They go from newcomers to major characters so fast it’s unbelievable.
Sadly that’s where a lot of my enjoyment ended. Volumes three and four were an excellent read and i did enjoy them. However the changes in the characters really didn’t sit well with me. The sudden change in both the character personalities, as well as the physical changes (Duenan suddenly becoming a cyborg), really didn’t mesh well.
The story is also a little harder to follow as the location changes aren’t explained very well. However the biggest disappointment for me was Athena, who for the first two volumes was acting one, when the suddenly does a 180 turn and acts the complete opposite, with just a shrug off explanation.
Both Duenan and Briareos go through some personality changes which doesn’t really sit well with me. I preferred them the way they were in the first two volumes. I understand that characters do go through changes as time goes by, and i can usually embrace and even enjoy them. However when the character go to bed one way and wake up another, it’s a bit annoying.
The story also goes off in wild tangents and loses it’s focus. I’m guessing this was due to the core story being resolved in the first two volumes. Though i have to admit that while the focus shifts, the story we do get is not un-enjoyable. For me though i found it hard adjusting to the new personalities and characteristics of the leads.
When all is said and done though, i did enjoy the series for what it’s worth. I do love the art style of the series, and it does showcase Shirow’s art style off well. This series also shows off his interesting sense of humour as we get little commentaries and side notes throughout the series. I was lucky in that i got this series for a discounted price, and have to admit i don’t regret buying it. Now if only i could get my hands on the other few Appleseed books out there!!
I wanted to comment on a few things done by Dark Horse. Firstly this series is oversized compared to normal manga. It’s rather the size of the manhwa titles we see. Also the colour pages were all left intact, which makes the series look exceptional. Also they left the series un-flipped, so it reads right to left in true manga style.