Book 1
This article contains information that applies to ALL interpretations of the Appleseed saga.
Differences will be clearly marked or placed in the Notes and References section.
1988 DVD cover

World War III, also known as the Conventional War, is the massive international conflict that partially sets the groundwork for the Appleseed manga and film franchise.

Appleseed (manga) [1][]

Initiation and Background[]

The manga timeline starts In 1988; in that year North and South Korea reunited peacefully while the Soviet Union (Russia in post 1989 source materials) and United States form an alliance and sign a treaty eliminating 4% of all medium-range ICBMs, mainly to protect their own weakening power. The Soviet Union pushes for policies of peaceful negotiation and perestroika, but at the same time, social and economic issues continue to worsen. Also in 1988, the war between Iran and Iraq finally ends. In 1989, the democratic movement in Japan begins, and the Chinese Tiananmen Square incident happens in China, drawing world wide condemnation.

Despite a promising future, the 1990s are marked by political upheaval. In 1991, the Soviet Union returns the disputed four northern Kuril Islands to Japan and there are agreements made between the Japanese and Soviets, though problems remain. In 1992, the European Community (European Union in recent source materials) unifies into a nation state, while the world continues in a state of quasi-war ("peace") and criticising Asia. In 1993, East and West Germany were finally reunited, and in 1994, the Baltic states, Poland, Czechoslovakia, and Hungary join the E.C. Then, in 1995, The Fifth Middle East War breaks out between Israel and its Arab neighbors which goes nuclear in November of that year when Israel is forced to use nuclear weapons, wiping out southern Syria. This causes cracks in the American-Soviet Alliance. Iran, taking advantage of the situation, invades Iraq, as an internal split allows hard-liners to take control of Iran, leaving the Islamic world in chaos. As a result, the U.S.-Soviet Alliance finally falls apart. The Soviet Union sends troops into the Middle East, suppresses Israel, and then invades the Mediterranean, where it clashes with the E.C., beginning World War III.


The War itself only lasted 2 years. In 1996, the war went nuclear, causing a nuclear winter. The U.S. retaliates against the Soviet Union with a nuclear strike; because of this, the Euro-American Alliance wins the war. Inflated missile counts, improper maintenance, and other unknown factors cause numerous mislaunches and misfires (which perhaps saved the planet from annihilation). Though the war ends soon afterward, the effects are immediate and devastating. The world is left in political, economical, and ecological ruin, and devastation is everywhere. Unfortunately, the world learns nothing, leading to the beginnings of World War IV.

Appleseed (2004 movie)[]

Initiation and background[]

It is not made clear in the movie what sparked the major armed conflict, nor how it rapidly escalated to involve nearly every world power. Oddly for such a devastating battle, nuclear weapons were never deployed, and the conflict was relatively short, lasting for only about two years between 2133 and 2135. The decimation of Earth, as well as the significant loss of life, is possibly due to the use of bio or chemical weapons, such as Sarin gas, which is made reference to numerous times in the manga.

Although many small theaters of engagement were created, including the North African front which drew significant casualties on all sides, it appears that the armed conflict was concentrated mostly in Europe and Asia, backed by several major coalitions which either later withdrew, or were fiscally and socially bankrupted by their participation. The imagary of the battle is mostly that of urban combat, which suggests that the majority of earth's population was based in cities during the timeframe of the conflict.


No clear victory was achieved in this final "war to end all wars," and the end result was incessant worldwide disorder and civil conflict thereafter, comprising of disorderly armies either trying to wrestle ownership of the remaining contested territories, or ignorant that the war had officially ended in their land perhaps months earlier. Several "countries" remained progressive enough to retain warcraft such as tanks and APCs and use them in battle; such a faction is seen in the opening teaser of the 2004 movie when Deunan Knute (at that time perhaps reduced to a mercenary herself), is cornered by an unnamed army, utilizing tanks and Mechas, closing in for her kill after violently slaughtering the rest of her platoon.


Unlike most dystopian sci-fi stories, World War III is not depicted to have destroyed Earth entirely, in any of the multiple interpretations of the Appleseed saga. The opening preface to The Promethian Challenge, the first volume in the manga, tells of how "the Earth became a quieter place," while the narrative beginning to the feature film Ex Machina states that "over half the Earth's population was killed off."

The precedent the battle sets is more or less a politically resetting of the globe that eliminates all countries and power structures, and places an onus on the last city on Earth, Olympus, to rebuild the planet as a new paradise.

World War III is also known as the Conventional War by Bioroids, since it only involved humans and not their species.[2]

Historical figures[]

  • Both of Deunan Knute's parents, Carl and Gilliam Knute, died or were killed prior to the outbreak of the conflict.[3]
  • A young Edward Uranus, seen leading the insurgance onto Gilliam Knute's Bioroid offshore platform, survives the war and is appointed General of the Olympus Regular Army thirty-odd years later.[4]
  • Briareos Hecatonchires was mortally wounded in battle on the North African Front at some time during the peak of the conflict, and was then rebuilt as a cyborg, using only twenty-five percent of his recoverable human body. His brain (therefore his consciousness and personality) was retained but augmented with a biological computer, in a fashion strikingly similar to one seen in another Masamune Shirow manga involving cyborgs, Ghost in the Shell. [5]
  • Mechas are apparently common in World War III battles. The technology is invented by Poseidon and adopted by Olympus during the war, rechristened as the Landmate.[6]
  • The uncontrolled territories outside Olympus (and other developed postwar nations) are frequently referred to as the Badlands (in the movies), or the Badside (in the manga).
  • During a peace conference hosted in Olympus during the events of Ex Machina, it is said that there are again thirty-two developed postwar nations. Several heads of state are depicted to be of Indian, Saudi Arabian, and American ethnicity.

Notes and References[]

  1. As per Appleseed ID, pages 112-120.
  2. This is true at least for the 2004 movie.
  3. As per The Scales of Prometheus (manga), and the 2004 movie, albeit in slightly different contexts.
  4. This is based upon visual similarities, and could be a contested claim.
  5. As per the 2004 movie. The Appleseed ID graphical encyclopedia, (page 117) tells us the nature of his injury is unclear, but related to his life prior to Olympus, possibly during his career with the Soviet KGB.
  6. Appleseed ID, also Appleseed Hypernotes.