A pioneer in their fashion of animation, the two recent Appleseed CGI movies also quietly began (or were at least at the forefront of) a trend in Japanese anime that saw the significant participation of Western musical composers in the creation of a soundtrack. Key players in the first episode included Japan's Boom Boom Satellites, the UK's Paul Oakenfold and Basement Jaxx, as well as lesser known artists like Canada's Akufen, and the United State's Atom™ as well as Adult, with an exclusive remix for the film by DJ Carl Craig.
The sequel featured a large cast of composers as well, but apparently due to scheduling and production conflicts, the talent this time around was almost purely Japanese, featuring Hasymo, Wagdog Futuristic Unity, Technoboys, Haruomi Hosono, Aoki Takamasa, and even a single by Russian-Japanese fashion model Lina Ohta.
Musical styles employedEdit
Electronica, electroclash, pop, and full orchestral themes were prevalent through the 2004 and 2007 episodes. Typically, the movies begin with a lot of dramatic, bass-heavy beats of any genre, to accompany the various gunfights and battles, before transitioning gradually to the more epic themes written by composer Tetsuya Takahashi, as the story nears its climax and conclusion. Both of the latter episodes use some themes interchangeably, most noticeably a leitmotif (recurrent musical theme) heard first in Kikan (2004), then again in Ten (2007). This was probably to provide some continuity between both episodes, as at the time a trilogy was being planned with a third installment yet to debut.
Famous artists in the 2004 soundtrackEdit
In the 2004 movie, we hear a static-laden electroclash theme while Deunan defeats sixteen hostiles during a simulated wargame; this is electronica veteran Ryuichi Sakamoto's "Coro," a piece of music written just for the soundtrack. Sakamoto is famous for introducing to late 1960s Japan the then-revolutionary combo of synth and organic sound, best heard in his early album The Thousand Knives of Ryuichi Sakamoto.
Interestingly enough, in the sequel Ex Machina, Sakamoto's longtime co-musician Haruomi Hosono joins the cyberpunk scene, and lends his own contribution in the form of "Metallic Velocity," the catchy guitar/synth beat heard during the onslaught of the first Halcon riot in Olympus, during the G32 Peace Summit. In real life, Sakamoto and Hosono are better known for forming the internationally popular band Yellow Magic Orchestra, more or less a troupe along the lines of a Japanese Kraftwerk.
Although they were absent for the second movie, the equally veteran and famous Japanese techno/pop duo Boom Boom Satellites add to the soundtrack a few of their already popular songs like "Dive for You," "Bump Over Hill" (Engrish duly noted), and the perfectly selected "Anthem" to accompany the end credits. Most of these can be heard on their mid 2000s album Full of Elevating Pleasures.
Also important to note is the presence of Paul Oakenfold's Burns Attack, a suspenseful pursuit theme which had, until then, languished inside a Richard Burns Rally motorsports videogame, as main-menu music of all things. Oakenfold is otherwise a world famous DJ with an established record label, and has since provided more of his music for other animes like Vexille.
Last but not least is Basement Jaxx, a house duo from Britain, who provided a shortened version of subtly epic single "Good Luck" as an opening theme for Appleseed—as well as the Euro Cup of the same year.
Music sampler - Appleseed (2004)Edit
The 2004 movie begins with a dramatic undertone set by Paul Oakenfold's Burns Attack, played during the cyborg attack on Deunan's military brigade that earns the movie it's R rating.
Later, Basement Jaxx gives us Good Luck, the opening theme, T. Raumschmiere a car radio tune barely heard over the traffic in the movie, and Tetsuya Takahashi the great orchestrals heard as things turn epic.
The recurrent Appleseed leitmotif can be heard near the end of Kikan following Briareos' supposed death. Interspersed through the rest of the film are catchy electro beats from Adult (during the ORA Landmate attack), and also Atom (playing loudly in the Black Magic nightclub).
|Basement Jaxx - Good Luck (available on iTunes)|
|Boom Boom Satellites - Anthem|
|Paul Oakenfold - Burns Attack|
|T. Raumschmiere - One Man Army|
|Tetsuya Takahashi - Sakai (Reunion)|
|Tetsuya Takahashi - Mother|
|Tetsuya Takahashi - Kikan (The Return)|
|Tetsuya Takahashi - Crossfire|
|Tetsuya Takahashi - Password|
|Adult - Hand to Phone (available on iTunes)|
|Atom - White Car|
This is just a small selection of the soundtrack; the official issue is a two-disc set that totals nearly an hour and a half in length.
Music sampler - Appleseed: Ex Machina (2007)Edit
|For 2007's Ex Machina, a chilling narrative about the last World War starts the movie, with Tetsuya Takahashi's Ex Machina theme underlaid.
After a cutscene to the hostage rescue intro, Mission is played, with an ominous drumbeat tempo; as the opening credits begin to roll, Hasymo's RESCUE starts to play, but in the movie, the Japanese sung, Danish lyrics are barely discernible.
The Appleseed theme which first debuted in Kikan is heard in Track Ten; later, a beautiful leitmotif representing Olympus is heard in Anthem and Appleseed II. Finally, the movie concludes with Lina Ohta's one-off single, Puzzle-Riddle.
|Hasymo - RESCUE|
|Lina Ohta - Puzzle-Riddle|
|Hasymo - Method|
|Haruomi Hosono - Metallic Velocity|
|Tetsuya Takahashi - Ex Machina|
|Tetsuya Takahashi - Mission|
|Tetsuya Takahashi - Anthem|
|Tetsuya Takahashi - Track Nine|
|Tetsuya Takahashi - Track Ten|
|Tetsuya Takahashi - Appleseed II|
Again, a brief sampler - this rare soundtrack release is also a two disc set.
The CD release of both soundtracks was limited in North America, and the discs are somewhat hard to come by today. While some more common tracks from the first film are purchasable on sites like iTunes (such as Hand to Phone, and Good Luck), the more obscure pieces that fill much of the movies are not readily available for download. Miya Records, an elaborate Taiwanese counterfeiting operation, produces high-quality but illegal copies of both soundtracks, and it is these CDs that are easiest to find, even through otherwise reputable dealers, not the originals. However, all monetary proceeds of MIYA sales goes directly back to the counterfeiters, and not the original composers.
The originals, while in short supply, can be generally found on resale sites such as Amazon, as well as eBay, but care must be taken to ensure that a purportedly "original" soundtrack does not ultimately contain a burned Miya disc, another common practice online. When a genuine set is found, the average price to be paid is usually between $75 to $125.
Special thanks goes to Ashitaka645 of YouTube, for hosting these soundtrack samples.
- Ashitaka645's complete sampler on YouTube. All the tracks above, and the rest of their albums.
- The Amazon sales pages where the official soundtracks (not Miya ripoffs) can be purchased: Appleseed, and Appleseed: Ex Machina.