Monday, February 15, 2016

Manga Monday: Appleseed ID (Illustration and Data)

It's quite possible that, with the exception of Walter Gibson, few have contributed more to the cyberpunk genre than Shirow Masamune. His manga titles Black Magic, Dominion, Appleseed, and Ghost in the Shell have been published around the world to critical acclaim and much of his creative work has made the transition from manga page into hugely popular anime shows, theatrical features, and OVAs.

First released in 1985, the Appleseed manga spans four volumes, all of which were released in the US by Dark Horse. The plotfollows the exploits of ESWAT members Deunan and Briareos as they safeguard the city of Olympus from both foreign and domestic threats. The manga proved popular enough to warrant an OVA in 1988, three CGI films (released in 2004, 2007, and 2014), and a 13-episode CG series in 2011.

Unfortunately for Appleseed fans, Masamune has yet to return to the exciting cyberpunk world he dreamed up back in '85, leaving readers with only four finished volumes. However, those eager for one more dose of Appleseed can find it in the excellent Appleseed ID, released by Dark Horse back in 2007.

An amazing behind-the-scenes look at the manga, Appleseed ID provides keen insight into Masamune's production process. The volume includes a color illustration gallery, a map of the Appleseed world, a directory of every notable character that ever appeared in the series, a black-and-white gallery, a timeline of events that occurred in the manga (and prior to it), and notes from Masamune himself, detailing everything from weapons (right down to the bullets!) to mechs, along with numerous unreleased sketches and early page designs. There's even a forty-page bonus manga chapter titled "Called Game".

This is a collection no Appleseed fan should be without. The original cover price was $14.95, but I've seen this volume cheaper on both Amazon and eBay in recent years. Reading Masamune's comments on plot and art decisions made this worth the purchase alone, to say nothing of the fantastic artwork. It's wild to read about how carefully his fictional world was mapped out and the painstaking details that Masamune would strive for, whether it be simple 'sound effect' choices or the specific, tactically-correct, way a character would hold a gun. I really wish there were more books out there like this one, where we are afforded the opportunity to dive into the creator's mind and get a glimpse at how these stories are put together (Death Note Volume 13: How To Read is one of the only other examples that immediately springs to mind).

Dark Horse Manga also released a similar book titled Appleseed Hypernotes, which is highly recommended as well. It follows the same structure as ID, with a behind-the-scenes look at the series, but also includes a lengthy manga chapter that takes place after the fourth and final volume of Appleseed, thereby making it the closest thing to a volume 5 that we, thus far, have.

 Even today Masamune's creations continue on, with the recent Ghost in the Shell Arise OVAs and his latest endeavor, which he's provided the concept for, Pandora in the Crimson Shell, now making the jump from manga to anime.

No comments:

Post a Comment