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[The Animatrix box art]
AKA: アニマトリックス
Genre: Sci-fi/cyberpunk anthology
Length: OAV, 9 episodes, 10 minutes each
Distributor: R1 DVD from Warner Home Video
Content Rating: PG-13 (graphic violence, brief nudity, mild fan service)
Related Series: N/A
Also Recommended:
Notes: Set in the universe of The Matrix.

Contains nine shorts: Final Flight of the Osiris, The Second Renaissance Parts I & II, Kid's Story, Program, World Record, Beyond, A Detective Story, and Matriculated. Animation studios Madhouse (X, Ninja Scroll), Studio 4.C (Spriggan), DNA, and Square USA (Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within) contributed to this anthology along with Kawajiri Yoshiaki (Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust, Wicked City), Koike Takeshi (Midnight Eye Goku), Peter Chung (Aeon Flux, Reign), Larry and Andy Wachowski (The Matrix, The Matrix: Reloaded, The Matrix: Revolution), Morimoto Koji (Memories, Robot Carnival), Maeda Mahiro (Blue Sub No. 6), and Andy Jones (Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within).

Rating: Five StarsFive StarsFive StarsFive StarsFive Stars

The Animatrix

Synopsis

This OAV contains nine animated shorts done by some of the best in the animation industry. Most in one way, shape, or form take place in the same universe as the Matrix or follow a theme very similar to that of the Matrix.


Review

The Wachowski Brothers are anime fans with connections, and they have used those connections to bring some of the best modern directors and animators that exist in the animation industry in the world.

I have never really been a fan of the compilation of shorts that I have seen in the past. I have felt that they do not have enough time to create a decent story with interesting characters. I feel that they are rushed and at times they become monotonous.

The Animatrix has completely changed that viewpoint. It has not only proven that Americans can become members of anime industry, but it has proven that Americans can create great anime as well.

Final Flight of the Osiris is the first short on this DVD. Directed by Andy Jones, it is an action-packed short, which contains high-quality computer graphics created by Square USA. Unfortunately, due to the time constraints and the extensive fighting in the early portion of the short, any form of characterization in the plot is lost.

On the other hand, The Second Renaissance Parts I and II are my favorite shorts out of the entire DVD. The shorts tell the story of the fight between man and machine. Over time, machines have been gaining more control over the world in general and are forcing many humans out of work. Soon, people begin to question if robots should be deemed as possessions or separate entities. The animation is absolutely amazing as the battles between man and machine increase while Maeda narrates how the Matrix came into existence.

Kid's Story isn't as plot heavy, but it proves that Studio 4C was not afraid to experiment with the fast, fluid animation, unconventional artwork, and unusual (but creative) camera angles. The style itself allows for a fast paced, physics-defying (Tony Hawk couldn't skate like that if his depended on it) short that is entertaining, yet jaw-dropping at the same time.

While Program is impressive in some ways, it is definitely not the best of Kawajiri's work. While it does tie in to the Matrix, the short is really nothing more than a duel between two characters that are arguing over whether or not to go back into the Matrix. Granted, it is well animated, but the plot and characters are non-existent throughout the short.

Another short that I enjoyed is Beyond, which was directed by Morimoto Koji. Beyond is a true feast for the eyes of anyone to enjoy. Children stumble upon a large and abandoned home that is practically cut into an alternate dimension. Realistic physics become non-existent as the children enjoy pulling off awesome looking stunts. This is further proof that Studio 4C is not afraid to use a new animation style. The character designs are extremely unique during this entertaining short.

World Record, directed by newcomer Koike Takeshi is a story of one man attempting to run away from the Matrix. This anime is great, as it provides for some monstrously ugly (but cool looking) character designs. On top of that, it takes a different view of running. Instead of showing the entire race at its normal speed, Koike decides to put the race into slow motion and focus on one man instead. The bulging and tearing of his muscles show not only the effort he is putting into the race, but the effort to get away from the Matrix.

Detective Story is like Kid's Story. Not very heavy on plot but are more focused on the action. A detective is hired by agents to track down Trinity.

Matriculated is just about okay. While the premise of this short is decent, the artwork is terrible. While this and Program are worst of the Matrix, they would alone receive at least a three star rating.

While there are very mild inconsistencies in the quality of the shorts, they are overshadowed by how ground breaking this anthology is. The Animatrix proves that American influence on Japanese animation is not a bad thing. It's worth more as a whole than it is in parts. It is a work of experimentation and innovation. Just about everyone can find at least one short that they can enjoy, and most will enjoy far more than that. You owe it to yourself to see this at least once.

Robert Nelson

Recommended Audience: In general, there's some graphic violence, brief nudity, and some fan service.



Version(s) Viewed: R1 DVD
Review Status: Full (9/9)
The Animatrix © 2003 Warner Brothers
 
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