Mania Grade: D
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- Audio Rating: B
- Video Rating: A
- Packaging Rating: A
- Menus Rating: A
- Extras Rating: A
- Age Rating: 16 & Up
- Region: 1 - North America
- Released By: Geneon Entertainment (USA), Inc.
- MSRP: 29.98
- Running time: 90
- Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
- Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
- Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
- Series: Armitage III
Armitage III: Dual Matrix (Special Edition)
By Robert "DarkSong" Piekut
June 23, 2002
Release Date: June 25, 2002
Ok, this is going to need a Fair Warning/Explanation on why I rated this release like I did. One thing I need to mention is that I'm a very big fan of the show before this, Armitage III: Polymatrix - even though it was a dub-only release and suffered from Kiefer Sutherland's totally uninspired and wooden voice acting. That show was well written, with a story that flowed nicely, and above all made sense in a logical way as to the actions the characters took. Dual Matrix, on the other hand, is a disjointed and illogical mess. But I'll be sure to explain my feelings in (painful) detail in the content section of the review.
I took the time to check out this disc in both Japanese and English audio, and from a technical standpoint there was only one flaw, but enough of a nuisance to me to knock it down a whole letter grade. Once again Julian Mack comes up with a fantastic soundtrack that does a wonderful job in complementing the action taking place on the screen - but sadly I feel his great work was wasted on such a sub-par feature as this. The issue that caused my ire and to drop the audio rating, is during parts in the show, when Naomi gets her senses jammed by an enemy - the sound is overridden by this literally deafening burst of static. Quite frankly, it's merely supposed to debilitate the character in the show, NOT the people viewing it. The sound level of this effect is mixed so high, that we had to scramble for the stereo remote to cut the sound volume down for fear of waking the children who were sleeping upstairs. And of course they did this trick more than once, so for this poor choice of technique in this effect, mixing the sound level so high in comparison to the rest of the show, I docked the audio a letter grade. Otherwise, from a technical standpoint, this is a nigh flawless release.
"Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1" - yeah, well I'm not any insane AV-o-phile like some of my friends. I won't be able to sling around the high-faluting technical mumbo-jumbo they're fond of either. But I can say this with confidence - This is an amazingly crisp, clean and clear release in the video aspects. I was unable to detect any cross-colouration, rainbows, shimmers or macroblocking. The digital animation did stand out from the conventional, but not in a way that was excessively jarring. The use of colours in the various scenes was well done also - but the only thing that mars the visual experience in my book is the "sensor jamming" affect that I mentioned above in the audio review. When that happens, not only do we get a horrid aural assault of noise, but also the entire screen turns to snow at the same time, giving a one-two punch that rattles the viewer, and in my opinion damages the flow of the story. I bet they intended it to have that very effect on the viewer, but I feel it was a poor choice. I debated whether or not to dock the video grade for it as well, but chose to leave it as is.
Featuring a really slick-looking raised foil cover for this release, I've got to give Pioneer high grades for the packaging. A nice action pose of Naomi in gun sights adorns the front, while the back has a good collage of various images. It gives you a lot to look at, without feeling cluttered or excessively "busy". Inside the case is a booklet giving some background on the story, the characters, a relationship chart (like was seen in SoulTaker), and a full credits listing at the back of the booklet. Sadly this comes in Pioneer's new choice for a keepcase, which I consider to be rather craptacular - a four inch drop to my desk with the case open, simulating if I fumbled while opening it and dropped the case, resulted in a disc that springs loose and runs the risk of damage. To say I don't like these cases would be an understatement.
Nightjar! Wh00t! Nightjar menus are a fan favorite, and once again they have created another fine work. In some ways this one is less complex than some of their other works, and in others it seems more - It's a sort of gear motif, than moves around. Easy to use to make the selections you want, and quick response - and Nightjar. You really can't ask for much more.
Although I'm usually not all that enthused with extras, I've got to admit that Pioneer served up a good bunch of stuff for this release. The "Assembling Armitage" piece was interesting - I was glad to see the bit with Julian Mack on the music - as I've loved his work for some time. I've got to agree with Chris on wishing there was more stuff about the Japanese side of this production. A character design gallery and the movie teaser are on there, and a neat touch that I didn't really mess with much was the 5.1 music player. But this is a good amount of impressive extras, instead of the rather austere selection we get all too often in R1 releases.
Content: (Please note that content portions of this review WILL contain spoilers. You have been warned)
Almost five years after the release of Polymatrix, a show I REALLY enjoyed, and what I thought was my hopes coming true happened. Despite Polymatrix being a dub-only release, and with some scene cuts and other scenes added in from the original OAV, I thought it was a solid story, and it left me wanting more. Yes, we got more, but now after watching Dual Matrix, I find myself regretting this ever saw the light of day.
I'm going to have to disagree with Chris on his evaluation of the plot - I feel that this show is not only "plot hole hell", but suffers from several other big flaws, of which I'll go through in painful detail.
The story picks up a few years after the end of Polymatrix. Naomi and Ross are living on Mars under new identities, and raising their daughter Yoko. The unique thing about the Thirds was that they could give birth to a human child, and it has happened here. Ross is working as a security guard, and Yoko is in preschool, with Naomi being a housewife. Ross and Naomi have decided to keep any knowledge of the past, and what Naomi is from Yoko, and you know this is going to bite them in the butt later.
A bit into the show, a Military commando unit raids an facility making Thirds illegally and kills just about everyone in the place, under the cover of a robot rebellion. Naomi gets broadcast what is happening as the other Thirds are dying - this is an ability all thirds have, to be able to share data like this without a direct connection - and after helping celebrate Yoko's birthday, decides to put on her old butt-kicking outfit and get to the bottom of this, as what she knows, and what was broadcast on the news don't jibe. Without telling her loved ones she is going. She just up and leaves in the dark of the night.
Here's my first gripe - I don't know about you, but I have HUGE problems thinking that someone who is a mother, and after all the crap her and Ross went through together at the end of Polymatrix, is just going to up and go without saying a damned thing to her loved ones. Sorry, I don't buy that one bit.
Okay, while Naomi is off trying to be a one-girl army again, Ross gets some press exposure due to a terrorist attack on the facility he's a guard at, and fends off the attack while taking a bullet. Due to an issue with humans and robots involved in the attack, he gets trust into the spotlight as a defender of robot rights, and ends up being sent to Earth as the Martian delegate for the Robot Rights debate vote, courtesy of an old acquaintance who happens to be rather rich and influential in the Robot Rights movement on Mars. So off he goes to Earth, taking Yoko with him.
Here comes gripe number two - Okay, Ross has his wife and mother of his child disappear with no word at all on him. He gets shot at in a mess involving humans and robots, gets thrust into the limelight as the "defender of robot rights". And despite fully knowing the kind of hellstorm that will most likely occur - never mind the missing Naomi mystery - he decides to take Yoko with him into the lion's den. HELLO?!? Do you have half a functioning brain cell left, Ross? If I were in that situation, I would have demanded that his factor that sent him on this junket provide a safe and secure place for Yoko to stay on Mars, well away from all the furor that will no doubt ensue. But does he do that - NOOOOOO, it would ruin plot events. ARGH!
Naomi, while she's Earthside kicking butt and taking names, finds the Colonel that led the commando assault that killed off those Thirds, and then encounters the so-called villain of this show. He offers her a deal, in exchange for her data on what makes her a true Third - the ability to conceive a child. She tells him to go taking a flying you-know-what, and he promptly brings in a giant combat droid to disable her. She manages to escape, despite having her senses jammed and taking some fairly serious damage - and falling out of a skyscraper.
Oh boy, here come some more gripes! First off, this "villain" is so forgettable it's pathetic. One thing that you really need in a story is a strong antagonist, and this guy definitely isn't it. You can't even summon up the effort to care about him or his plans, really. He's your cookie-cutter rich mad scientist type, with delusions of godhood. All in all, he gets filed into the "who cares" category.
Then when this droid attacks Naomi, the sensor jamming effect I mentioned in the audio and video portions of this review occur. Frankly, it gave me a headache, because I was trying to concentrate on the plot and then the burst of white noise at that insane volume level. Grrrrr.
And when she manages to take the droid out, she ends up falling out of the skyscraper, and falls who knows how many stories - but it's a lot. She crawls into the sewers before she finally breaks down some much and passes out. Hello - there's only so much suspension of disbelief I can deal with here!
Later on, the villain, in an effort to make sure the Robots Rights bill does NOT get passed, kidnaps Yoko and tells Ross that if he doesn't vote against it, she's a goner. HELLO!!!! He didn't even make sure that Yoko was in a safe and secure place (not that she would have been on the same planet, if I was in his place). Quite frankly at this point, Yoko should have been taken away from Ross and Naomi for being criminally negligent parents.
If I touched on every bloody plot hole in this debacle, this review would be a lot longer, so I'll try to hit on two more items that annoyed me. In the end, Naomi, Ross and Yoko get reunited, and they all kiss and make up, and are trying to escape the Villain's Armitage clones, and head up the Space Elevator to the launch platform so they can get back to Mars and live happily ever after. So they sneak into this Space Elevator, which is the major hub for space travel in the Chicago area - and it's completely, totally and utterly unguarded. Not a soul in sight, human or robot. Well, except for the 2 Armitage clones that are trying to kill them.
Now, I know what airport security is like. There's no way in hell that a spaceport complex would be unguarded. Not a chance. I broke my "I believe" button trying to get past that part, people.
And finally, during this scene, one of the clones rips up Naomi and her android circuitry is showing. Yoko recoils in horror at this - understandably so, all the sudden finding out her mommy is a monster. But not a couple of minutes later, after seeing mommy beat up the bad monsters, Yoko decides it's all good, and Mommy is a good person after all. Sorry, there was not enough development in that part for me - it just seemed like a lightning-quick change of mind. Actually, my friends commented on it, and I just said back to them "It's in the plot, now shut up." It's a shame when you have to do that sort of thing several times in a show.
In summary, I hope I've managed to make my disappointment with this title crystal-clear. I didn't even touch on my dislike of the character designs - especially for Naomi - cause that complaint is minor compared to the ire I have with the plot holes you could drive a truck through. In the end, the only thing I can really say is that I'm damned glad I did not spend my cash for this disc, because as a fan of Polymatrix and the whole storyline, I am extremely disappointed with the way Dual Matrix turned out, to the extent I wish it had never been made. I cannot recommend this to anyone and keep a clear conscience - in fact I'd avoid this release at any cost, personally.
1) RCA 25" TV, Skyworth 1050P Progressive Scan codefree DVD player, Sony STR-DE845 DD/DTS receiver, S-video cables, Fibre optic audio out to receiver, Paradigm speakers.
2) Toshiba M-1612 DVD-Rom, PowerDVD, ViewSonic G810 monitor