Saturday, September 8, 2012

ANI-MOVIE, *The Animatrix

While anime-styled productions like Dark Fury, Batman: Gotham Knight, and Van Helsing: The London Assignment try to act as tie-ins to existing movie franchises, The Animatrix was one of the first of these types of animated films. Originally an online series (or “ONA”), this was a compilation of nine episodes, all dealing with seperate aspects of The Matrix trilogy. Four of these episodes premiered online, while the rest of them were first featured on the video release of the complete movie.

The first story, Final Flight Of The Osiris, was animated by Square Pictures, who also did Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within. This acts as a direct prelude to The Matrix Reloaded where the human crew of the hovercraft Osiris discover that the machine army is drilling directly into the underground city of Zion, so they send their Aeon Flux-wannabe into the Matrix to deliver this news to the humans. Unfortunately, the machines down the ship, and everyone buys it in the end. This had some pretty decent CGI in it, although it seems mostly dated by today’s standards. It also leads into the Enter The Matrix video game.

Following this is a 2-part story which actually gives a comprehensive history of how the world was eventually taken over by the machines. In The Second Renaissance, Mahiro Madea of Kill Bill fame animated this ellaborate retelling of mankind’s downfall from the perspectrive of the Zion computer archives that is represented as a goddess figure called The Instructor. She relays how the human race had created robots to do all their work, but they eventually rebelled. The machines start up their own city, which the humans weirdly enough open up trades with, although this sends the human economy into the sewers. The humans then decide to go to all out war with the machines by blocking out the sun, their main source of power. Of course, the machines eventually win, and begin to harvest the human minds. This origin is not totally compatible with the regular Matrix story as it was stated in the first movie that the entire history was sketchy due to the humans’ lack of information on it. This is possibly an idealized version of what was supposed to have happened based on what the future Zionites thought it would be.

Next is Kid’s Story where we’re introduced to the Kid(yep, he’s got no real name!), who was that annoying teenager who kept stalking Neo in Reloaded, and how he freed himself from the Matrix. This was directed by Shinichiro Watanabe of Cowboy Bebop. World Record(by Ninja Scroll‘s Yoshiaki Kawajiri)follows this same premise about an athlete who almost breaks free of the illusion of the Matrix. Kawajiri also directed the Program segment which is unfortunately the shortest one in the whole movie about a girl training in one of the humans’ VR sims which is modeled after feudal Japan, and is nearly taken out by what she is led to believe as a defector to the machines. This part features some very dynamic action, which make you wich that Kawajiri would do another full-length ninja/samurai movie.

After this is Beyond(by Koji Morimoto of Memories)where some kids find a glitch in the Matrix which they think is a haunted house. Next is A Detective’s Story where a private eye in the Matrix is hired by Agents to hunt down Trinity. Shinichiro Watanabe takes his knack for genre films and applies it beautifully to this noir piece.

Finally, is Matriculated by Aeon Flux creator Peter Cheung, where some humans working above-ground to capture robots and try to win them over to their side by using surrealistic VR, although they all end up getting killed off by other robots. This is the longest bit in the anthology, and is well executed, but at the same time gets too bogged down with the entire dreamlike sim used on the robot.

The Animatrix represented a major change in the way American animated media was handled, by having it branch out to different media like anime. On its own, it blazes alot of trails, and is worth viewing at least for seeing the eclectic views based on a similar theme. A better example of this would be Robot Carnival which is not currently available in America. Granted, this is a must for anyone who actually dug all three Matrix films, and is available in most of the collected editions of the trilogy.

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