A lot of people don’t follow science fiction manga… which is why a lot of people won’t be familiar with Appleseed, a Japanese manga series and various anime productions created by Masamune Shirow (also the creator of the manga Ghost in the Shell). The series isn’t even old (the most recent anime came out in 2014). But I’d like to see a rebooted Appleseed for two reasons: One, because of its premise; and two, because of its format.
Appleseed followed two elite SWAT officers, Deunan Knute and her cyborg partner Briareos Hecatonchires, as they live in and protect their home, Olympus, in the most powerful state after a non-nuclear World War Three. The manga also featured non-law enforcement characters, friends of Deunan and Briareos, and politicians in Olympus, giving the reader a wide-ranging viewpoint and stories of Olympus, its population and its efforts to help guide the recovery of the rest of the world into its image, as well as fending off terrorists and politicians who oppose the new world order.
I especially liked this premise because it gives the audience a storyline of a developing utopia, a potentially positive future for humanity, and the efforts of good people trying to make it happen. You don’t get much of that, especially in science fiction (outside of Star Trek, at any rate). It’s also notable because it’s terrestrial-based SF, not in deep space with aliens, weird planets and Earth-analogue cultures… and we get even less of that kind of SF. For me, that’s a great reason to develop a new series.
Another thing I like about the series is that the characters are reasonably diverse, and include robots and cyborgs who are treated like everyday people (Briareos was Deunan’s boyfriend before being injured in combat and rebuilt into a cyborg body, and the two remain best friends).
The other reason, frankly, is that the series has never been done in live-action. Not that there’s anything wrong with anime (or CGI-based productions), but live-action has a greater impact; and although realistic depictions of scenes, robots and cyborg characters are difficult and expensive, CGI and practical floor effects are improving fast, and the ability to combine great CGI with live-action is developing by leaps and bounds.
I would make few changes to the premise and characters themselves, and I’d want to make sure the stories were fairly evenly split between the police stories of Deunan and Briareos and the civilian stories of their friends and other characters, all showing their challenges and progresses in developing and improving life in Olympus, and the concerns for outside threats to their lives and prosperity. Perhaps add a major character that can help articulate the concerns, politics and dangers of the outside world and its opposition to Olympus (I don’t remember such a regular character from the manga or anime, but it would be important to provide that external POV among the main characters).
If I were to change anything—and I get that this might be considered sacriledge by Appleseed or Shirow purists—I might want to bring in a group of robots from another series, the Tachikoma from Ghost in the Shell. Tachikomas are police robots with sophisticated independent AI that provide excellent backup and patrolling duties around the main characters. I feel like they would be great representatives for the advances of automation in society, providing positive models of AI working with humans, not against them. But if the Tachikomas are verboten, a similar AI-equipped robot would be a great addition to the regular characters of the series.
So, there you have it. A recent review of past SF series has assured me that there aren’t many, if any, old series that I’d like to see return to TV; so Appleseed is probably the last in my series of shows I’d reboot. But that’s okay, because I’d much rather see new and original series come to television or other media, and I’d rather spend time thinking about (and possibly developing) those.