Wednesday, June 11, 2003

Animatrix, The

Genre: Dark, Sci-Fi
Parental Guidance Recommended
2003 Wachowski Brothers (writers). Eiko Tanaka (producer, all eps), Hiroaki Takeuchi (producer, all eps), Michael Arias (producer, all eps). Various directors.

The Animatrix DVDs
The Animatrix Books
The Animatrix Music
Everything Animatrix

Cover Description:
9 short films exploring the incredible world of The Matrix. Welcome to the Animatrix, a visionary fusion of CG-animation and Japanese animé from the world's most revered animé directors. Experience the prequel to The Matrix and learn about the last cities of mankind, the war with the machines and humanity's ultimate downfall. Witness the Final Flight of the Osiris, which sets the stage for The Matrix Reloaded movie and Enter the Matrix video game. Grasp a more complete understand of The Matrix available nowhere else. It's time to plugin.

The Films:

  1. Final Flight of the Osiris
  2. The Second Renaissance Part I
  3. The Second Renaissance Part II
  4. Kid's Story
  5. Program
  6. World Record
  7. Beyond
  8. A Detective Story
  9. Marticulated
Amazing! >>> by skysenshi (06.11.2003)

First of all, I would like to warn everyone to watch The Matrix and The Matrix Reloaded, if you haven't already. This would help you understand the animated series-and this review-better. Second of all, I'd like to say, "Finally!" We have here an anime from the makers of The Matrix itself, so maybe that means we'd have lesser wannabes to deal with in the near future. Needless to say, The Animtrix was the pleasant surprise I was looking for after much disappointment from the annoyingly talky and repetitive The Matrix Reloaded.

The Animatrix is composed of 9 short films. When I say short, expect really really short. The kind of "short" that makes you itch for more while the end credits are rolling. The package brings forth stories of various people who have come to awaken inside the Matrix-from students to athletes to typical teenaged girls and children who have discovered their "gifts". The Second Renaissance tells the history of how the Matrix came to be and how everyone ended up as living fuel for the machines. Episodes, like Program, Marticulated and Final Flight of the Osiris, on the other hand, are all about the current state of the human beings struggling outside of the Matrix's control. Final Flight of Osiris, in particular, has been intricately woven into The Matrix Reloaded. How? Well, let's just say that Scion's final battle with the machines have been defined by what happened in this feature.

All the films are somewhat reminiscent of Serial Experiments Lain, Aeon Flux and Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust in artwork, animation and storytelling. You do have a lot of philosophical watchamacallits going on in there. But instead of boring everyone with circular dialogues, The Animatrix makes full use of visuals to render a positive effect. You find yourselves taken to worlds that you might never have thought possible both within and without the Matrix. To me it seemed like different dimensions. Like for instance, in A Detective Story, you'd think the setting is in the early 20th century. Only the computerized typewriters would give away the fact that no, it really isn't the early 20th century. What's certainly unique about The Animatrix is that, unlike most trying-hard-to-be-deep anime out there (ahem, Soul Taker) that can either make you sleepy, dizzy or kill you with ennui, this one will certainly keep you on your toes. Take note of the essential: In the end, you understand everything.

Mind you, not all 9 of them are totally amazing. I became acutely aware of suddenly heavy eyelids when I was watching Beyond and Marticulated. Beyond didn't really interest me as it was only about a cat, a pink-haired girl and a bunch of weird kids playing around. Marticulated basically had the same concept, except this time they added a wide-eyed tarsier into the fray. Lots of running around and lots of swirling colors/graphics get old after some time. Thank goodness each presentation only lasted a few minutes!

My personal favorite? It has definitely got to be Final Flight of Osiris. Being the gamer that I am, I couldn't help but notice how smooth and real the 3D CGs are-so real, I could feel Squaresoft's butt getting kicked big time! At least here, when the characters go through tough times, you can actually see them get filthy and exhausted. I don't see Doctor Aki Ross (of Final Fantasy: Spirits Within) getting a lint on her perfectly combed Lux Super Rich hair. Do you?

Now, if they'd only narrate what happened to the other Ones that came before Neo.

Individual Rating: Art:10; Story & Plot: 10; Characters: 9; Sounds: 9

Exploring more of the Matrix Universe. >>> by firesenshi (08.12.2003)

When I learned that the best anime directors of Japan went to collaborate on none other than a concept that revolved around The Matrix, I just knew I had to get the DVD for myself. No questions asked. Lack of funds delayed my purchase but I luckily received it as a birthday gift. No sooner was it in my hands that I swallowed the red pill and was extremely amazed at everything that I saw. The artwork was definitely amazing, going beyond the stereotypes of traditional anime and introducing surreal concepts by having photo-real stills, film-grain montages, and sketchy caricatures.

If you're one who watches The Matrix series for the eye candy instead of the futuristic and apocalyptic philosophical story behind, then this one has to be it. The artwork of one story differs from another since it is a series of animated film shorts. The Wachowski brothers boldly and brilliantly used the genre as part of the storytelling since their 'bullet-time' concept has been inspired by anime such as Ghost in the Shell... For example, Final Flight of the Osiris is in almost realistic 3D as it is a prequel to The Matrix Reloaded movie. Kid's Story and World Record ask the difference between dream and reality, along with the psychological trauma in seeking the greatest question of all, "What is the Matrix?"

And yes... the story... yah... I really paid attention to all that. Or did I? Let me put it this way: as there are different directors, there are different ways of telling the story. One thing is clear: the Wachowski brothers wrote most of the stories as they are related to the movie and the game to glue the series of film shorts together, but the beauty lies in the distinction of how it was told. Mahiro Maeda is more straightforward while Shinichiro Watanabe is more laidback and mysterious, always wanting you to draw the hidden answers in the dialogue. My favorite director, Yoshiaki Kawajiri, director of X and Ninja Scroll, is great at executing fight scenes as well as focusing everything on angst and tragedy. So you can tell, Program is my favorite of all. Yes, it's one that's most unrelated to the story of Neo and his posse in The Matrix, but heh... neo-samurai fighting SIM existing in there just made me want to plug in and engage in one myself.

What's great about this of course is that you discover more of The Matrix. Things just got started in the first movie and climaxed in a cliffhanger on the second one, but this one takes you on a ride to the stories of other 'less important people' other than 'The One.' It tells you how extraordinary people came to know about the Matrix and their hardships in existing apart from it. It makes you realize the depth of the Matrix universe that you haven't yet explored -- worlds that even Neo, Trinity and the gang have not visited since they're clearly bent on their own mission. You must go check on The Second Renaissance which tells the story of how machines dominated over the world. It's a story that not only astounds me to this moment, it made me think about the current status quo and even making me feel guilty about the future that could be. The images in there can be so cruel and has no qualms telling to your face how evil both the human race and the machines can be. It has scenes that are eerily similar to Hitler's Holocaust except this time, this is about the enmity between man and machines.

All in all, there are just too many reasons to buy The Animatrix and all of them are GOOD reasons. Apart from making you understand more about the Matrix and its HUGE universe... it's just damn good to look at. And why not? The best... if not the GREATEST anime directors went in and collaborated on this one. So if all that geek talk didn't impress you, you'll remember watching everything for the sheer coolness. And this is one good series you can refer to your non-anime loving friend so that they won't be like those people who think anime is just all about Akira.

Individual Rating: Art:10; Story & Plot: 10; Characters: 9; Sounds: 9

A good mix of animation. >>> by MarkPoa (written ??.??.2004 posted 01.29.2005)
With a mix of different creators and influences, the Animatrix gives us a great collection of animation shorts that shows the diversity of the animated medium. Each show has their own merits and demerits.

Final Flight of the Osiris: Lovely computer graphics was used to show the sacrifice of the Osiris. The female lead is probably the prettiest animated in CG so far. The piece itself could have served as an opener for the movie and probably no one would complain... and probably a few won't notice that it was animated.

Second Renaissance: Showing the history behind the Matrix, Second Renaissance has the look and feel of a documentary. The story itself was riveting, showing the desperation and cruelty of the war between humans and machine.

Kid's Story: My least favorite, though this is still amazing visually. Kid's Story directly ties to the Reloaded movie. The animation looks a bit different from regular anime or animation, but I thought it was energetic and appropriate.

Program: I loved the Ninja Scroll feel to this movie. Magnificent animation and action. It also had a good thought-provoking story for its ten-minute length.

World Record: The one I least liked visually, World Record makes up for it with a good story about an athlete awakening from the Matrix by breaking his limit. The ending is especially noteworthy and touching.

Beyond: Colored in light hues, Beyond shows what happens when a glitch in the Matrix occurs. It's the most innocent-looking piece within the anthology. The story is pretty straight forward, yet the underlying message in the ending of the loss of wonder and magic makes it strangely tragic.

Detective Story: My personal favorite. Detective Story effectively captures a good noir detective feel with its black-and-white visuals. It even features a good riveting story for its short length.

Matriculated: I think this was the longest. I had a weird Lawnmowerman vibe to the feature. Still, it was still visually interesting and its story was not that bad. However, I didn't really enjoy the Aeon Flux character designs.

The biggest and most pleasant surprise regarding the Animatrix features is that they can tell a good story despite their short length. It is a testament to the skill of the directors that they could tell the good story given such constraints. Very admirable.

The bonus features of the DVD are also great additions to an already good feature. I particularly liked the History of Anime and Manga feature, which, for its length, was already a great bonus. Still, I wished that there were more creator interviews. The only one I saw was an interview with the people who did Final Flight of Osiris. I wished they could have also added an interview with Shinichiro Watanabe regarding Detective Story or the director of Beyond. That would have certainly made the experience more interesting.

The Animatrix is an interesting study into the world of animation. Definitely a must-have for a Matrix fan, but more of a should-have for a fan of animation in general.

Individual Rating: Art: 8; Story & Plot 9; Characters: 8; Sounds: 9

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