26: Called Game is the rather oddly titled manga short story that appears in the first of the two Appleseed graphical encyclopedias, Appleseed ID. Apparently written (and set) in a time period between The Scales of Prometheus and the unfinished Book Five, Called Game is a satisfyingly tautly scripted, well illustrated tale. Despite its small size, and delayed release in North America, the installment is surprisingly packed with references to other volumes, background data, and plot clarifications, making it a very important part of the book saga.
Beginning with a narrowly-prevented bomb detonation in Tartaros, the story quickly gathers pace with what seems to be a mundane and unrelated ES.W.A.T. anti-organized crime operation. Briareos Hecatonchires is called in to contact an anonymous corporate Poseidon whistleblower at a streetside cafe, only to be caught in the thick of an another terrorist bombing that this time succeeds, leaving nearly every patron dead, and both he and his informant injured. After enacting a press gag on the incident and falsely claiming that the whistleblower died in the attack, believing that it may have been an indiscriminate assassination attempt, ES.W.A.T. is then contacted by Poseidon's emissary Yoshino. She reluctantly tells them that her own security forces have uncovered a rogue quasi-mafia operating in the darkness of one of its subsidiary companies, Lumina Corp, and suspects that the recent bombings are related. Contraband smuggling between both nations is suspected, and while few names are named, a certain Mr. Kitamura seems to be missing from Poseidon, and is unlikely to be anywhere else in the world but Olympus.
Briareos and pointwoman Deunan Knute investigate a lead that appears to tie a Central Management Bureau employee named Mary Butler between both the planted explosive in Tartaros, and the explosion at the cafe, which was ultimately caused by a rocket-propelled grenade. After searching Butler's apartment, and almost finding nothing, Deunan then finds a discarded rag in a trash can, that bears the familiar scent of World-War era low grade gun-oil. After some further deducing, Butler is declared to be Kitamura's personal gunner. Or was his gunner; for a short time later, ES.W.A.T. finds his body, freshly murdered, and the first sign of the criminal organization trying to cover its tracks in Olympus. The hunt is on to locate Butler before any further bomb attacks occur, or the last trace of the terrorists vanishes on home soil.
Notes and ReferencesEdit
- This is the first time in the manga that the Seburo Bobson Centennial is officially named in a footnote, following it's quiet debut in the third Appleseed book, The Scales of Prometheus. It's also the only time the specifications of the pistol are mentioned, with Deunan cheerily declaring that the use of the six millimeter calibre gun is "growing" on her. Up until this point, her primary sidearms had been either a Colt M1911 style automatic handgun, or a Seburo Gong, both employing calibres no smaller than nine millimeter to .45 ACP (the Colt) and even including high-powered shotshell (the Gong).
- Finned sedative bullets are seen multiple times in this story, in the exact form later depicted in the 2004 CGI movie. In this installment, they are fired primarily from a Seburo Gong handgun. However, unlike the movie, the rounds are not propelled by caseless ammunition, and are contained in shell casings.
- Deunan encounters a character strangely reminiscent of David Carradine in what is depicted to be a seedy bar, perhaps belonging to a gang or motorcycle club, just prior to his neutralization by Briareos. Later, the duo shows some surprise that such establishments are managing to take root in Olympus, despite the near police-state that exists.
- If the unnamed character is indeed supposed to be in Carradine's likeness, it makes him the second real-world celebrity that appears in the manga saga, following Kurt Russell in his incarnation of Snake Plissken, in the third volume.
- ES.W.A.T. operative Doric shows up again briefly, following the exploits of Operation Benandanti, covered in The Scales of Prometheus; her debut here follows an accident involving her car and Deunan's microcycle. Predictably, a characteristic barbed-laced "discussion" ensues.
- 26: Called Game is one of the few manga installments that focuses on more conventional crime (drug smuggling and bomb attacks) rather than the usual grandiose plots like human extinction (books one to two) and preemptive strikes on a hostile France (book three). Interestingly, the story is told in the format of a 1970s thriller, with even the characters themselves noting (and sometimes criticizing) the similarities.
- ES.W.A.T.'s counterterrorist training facilities are shown briefly, with a scene set in a large wind-tunnel. Here a full-scale subsonic airliner fuselage is stored, and used to simulate a mid-air hijacking. During this drill, operatives approach the plane with Landmates, then attempt a retaking of the aircraft, entering the fuselage via breaches cut into the fuselage near the wings. Commander Lance participates in the test, posing as a captive hostage.
- Although merely part of the depicted background chatter in an ES.W.A.T. dispatch room, a UFO sighting is reported to have occurred in the neighbourhood of Bezekric. This is the first (and only) time that the topic of extraterrestrial existence is broached in the saga, even though the series supposedly concludes with the colonization of space and discovery of intelligent life in Alpha-Centauri. These events, however, occur in the 2140s, some ten years after the events of the last book, and exist only as a mention in the official Appleseed chronology, published in Appleseed ID.
- Olympus FBI agent Arugess makes a brief reappearance, along with Poseidon's Yoshino.