Thursday, December 23, 2004

Apples and Oranges

Friend of mine showed me a copy of the new "Appleseed" that he'd downloaded from somewhere. This is a new CG animated film from Japan (based on the manga by Masamune Shirow) that is due to be officially released in the US in mid-January. It's a lot of fun, combining serious sci-fi speculation with some killer action featuring bad-ass robots. It's animated with a combination of realistic backgrounds and simplistic character designs that are shaded to look almost like 2D drawings. At first, the styles clash, but once you get swept into the action, you accept the look as normal. In fact, at times, the design looks amazingly like Shirow's comics, which also feature a dichotomy between cartoonish characters and photoreal backgrounds.

Japanese science fiction is a bizarre thing. On the one hand, they can have really astounding production design and mature, speculative plotlines. On the other hand, they have trouble resolving plots, often resorting to a simplistic "love conquers all/trust your guts" homily to wrap everything up.

The plot of "Appleseed" concerns that old staple of the Japanese, conflict between old-style humans and the new-style genetically-engineered Bioroids. To keep the advanced Bioroids from dominating humanity, they've been designed to be sterile and to have drastically shortened lifespans that can only be extended by frequent medical treatments. The Appleseed of the title involves technology which can restore the Bioroids ability to reproduce sexually; this will apparently also give them normal lifespans. Which reminds me of a story...

When I was in Basic Training, there was a rumor that they put saltpeter in our food to keep us from getting sexually aroused, so we would concentrate all our energy on training. One of our drill sergeants spent what seemed like an hour one evening putting the lie to this notion; it was exhaustion that had stolen our morning wood, he said, and at some point, it would return with a vengeance. When that happened, he had some very specific suggestions on what actions we should take, the gist of which was, "Don't save that s**t up, men! You will explode!"

Apparently, the Bioroids were dying from blue balls. I try not to imagine how the longevity treatments were carried out.

You know, I actually was hoping to keep things on a higher intellectual plane than this. Silly me.

BTW, apropos of nothing, I used the phrase "chock-full of" something today, which made me wonder, where does that come from anyway? Chocks are things you put under wheels to keep them from rolling. What does that have to do with being full?

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