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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: Ghost in the Shell, Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex, Akira, Metropolis, and any other number of sci-fi anime classics.
Notes:
Rating: Four StarsFour StarsFour StarsFour Stars
 

The Animatrix

Synopsis

The Animatrix is a collection of nine short animated features that portray different aspects of the Matrix universe, as spawned in the fertile imaginations of the Wachowski brothers. Included are eclectic pieces from some of the finest in the world of animation, including works from MADHOUSE STUDIOS, STUDIO4oC, Shinichiro Watanabe, as well as Andy and Larry Wachowski, who carry writing credit for no less than four of the Animatrix shorts.


Review

The Animatrix is most succinctly described as being seven parts sublime and two parts above average. More often than not, the various shorts of this feature rise to the occasion in splendid fashion, with only a few tarnished spots that very slightly dampen the overall shine of this production.

To being with, the animation in The Animatrix is brilliant. To those looking for eye-candy please look no further. Nearly every short features some of the most astounding visuals that have ever been seen by any fan of the animated medium. What's more is that there also exists an astounding degree of stylistic variety from feature to feature. The moving artwork here exists as sort of an animated smorgasbord, from which even the most discerning otaku will find something to his/her delight. The action from both "Beyond" and "Final Flight of the Osiris" would please the most hardened action fan, and the formalistic elements used in the animation of "World Record" are inspired. I for one will certainly carry some of the haunting imagery of The Second Renaissance within my psyche for a good time to come. The only exception to the mostly excellent visuals, in my humble view, was the animation in "Kid's Story", which just felt a bit sloppy when matched against its stately brethren. However, overall I cannot say enough great things about the general animation quality of The Animatrix.

One might be inclined to think that, since the average running time for each of these short films is only a mere 9 minutes or so, that character and plot development would naturally suffer. Often enough one would probably be correct, but certainly not in this case. In reality the most powerful surprise of The Animatrix is just how much it manages to cram into so little a package. The scope of each piece is usually limited enough (unlike its mother feature, namely the theatrical Matrix film) that a full and satisfying story can be found in an impossibly short span of time. In addition, since the continuity in which these films play has already been established, they are mostly free to explore the niche-like peculiarities of the matrix universe. In fact, the only two shorts that were lackluster in plot development were "Program" and "Matriculated". The plot of the former served mostly as an excuse for an admittedly entertaining adrenaline-laden fight scene, while "Matriculated", though conceptually interesting, was poorly executed. It left me wondering whether or not the feature really had any meaning at all or if I happened to eat some bad mushrooms prior to my viewing. Despite these missteps, though, the plot movement was unexpectedly strong.

The characters of each short are also by-and-far ingeniously planned. Every action taken and every word spoken lends itself to the understanding of the motivations of the players within each story arc. The characters of each minor anime flick are additionally quite easy to sympathize with, despite the brevity of their screen time. Indeed, I was very intrigued by the purpose and demeanor of the leads in "World Record" and "A Detective Story", as well as being touched by the final tenderness between lovers in the "Final Flight of the Osiris". Again, considering the length of the various individual features, the characterization cannot usually be described as anything but exemplary.

Very few viewers would not be impressed by The Animatrix. It seamlessly blends an assortment of unique and dynamic perspectives into an anthology that is so close to flawless that I was left in near-awe. Virtually every component of this viewing experience lends itself considerably to building an atmosphere of electrifying excitement and profound intrigue. It belongs in an elite category of animated features that deserves to be viewed by all willing anime fans. Aside from very minor mishaps, The Animatrix is plainly worthy, 'nuff said.

As close to five stars as possible without attaining said mark. Drop a star or two only if you really don't like sci-fi or the Matrix filmsDerrick L Tucker

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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