Armitage III: Dual Matrix (Special Edition) (of 1) (Mania.com)
Review Date: Saturday, May 11, 2002
Release Date: Tuesday, June 25, 2002
What They Say
The Bad Girl Returns! Naomi Armitage (voiced by Juliette Lewis) and Ross Sylibus have changed their names and live with their daughter Yoko as a happy and normal family on Mars - until a robot riot breaks out at an anti-matter plant on Earth.
Armitage learns the riot is a plot to suppress evidence of illegal research and development of more "Third Robots" and decides to go to Earth to find out who is behind this heinous act. What Armitage discovers is the most powerful enemy she has ever encountered - replicas of herself!
In probably one of the quickest releases to the U.S., the Dual Matrix movie was released in Japan in March of 2002, only to have its U.S. release at the end of June. What was surprising was just how out of the blue the entire release was, as it seemed like nobody knew it was even being worked on.
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this disc in its original language of Japanese. The disc features some choices in the audio, from the Japanese and English 5.1 tracks to the inclusion of a 2.0 English track. With the Japanese 5.1 track, the music and the action effects make most of the use of the rear directionality, as I don’t recall hearing all that much dialogue going there. But the music and action effects work extremely well with this movie, particularly the style of music. Julian Mack’s work here compliments the world of Armitage perfectly, and having it designed for 5.1 is a real treat. We listened to the English 2.0 track during the writing of the review and heard no issues with it.
Presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.33:1, this transfer is as far as I can tell, absolutely flawless. Cross coloration and aliasing is non-existent, colors are spot on without being over saturated and overall I couldn’t find a single thing to complain about with it. The show makes excellent use of the digital coloring palette open to it, particularly with the sky colors.
Using a raised foil for the cover, something I haven’t seen in years from my comic book collecting days, the front cover features a great looking and great feeling piece with Armitage in an action pose with a great bit of additional depth to it with the material. It also manages to use some really nice vibrant colors to give it more life and more attention while on the shelf. The back cover uses the effect as well with various pieces of artwork and design layout. Features are clearly listed as well as a brief summary of what to expect. While there’s no thin insert with this release, there is a really slick full color booklet that goes into detail with all of the characters and the world they inhabit. An amusing relationship tree is also provided.
I’m starting to feel repetitive, but every time I see a new Nightjar menu, I get excited. And this one is no exception. Utilizing the multi-layered disc look with portions of it spinning around the center piece where the selections are, you get a great looking and great sounding menu. Submenus are quick to load and moving about is pretty straightforward.
There’s a good selection of extras included in this release. There’s an interesting 15 minute piece on the Assembling Armitage featurette, which talks with the director, Julian Mack on the music and Juliette Lewis on the voice acting (this being her first gig for it). There’s some interesting pieces in here, and I was glad the director got most of the time spent, but wished there was just a bit more about the Japanese side of it or with more actors in general. There’s a number of character designs presented in the gallery, but what I found neat was the 5.1 music player. This section has three songs from the show that you can play in a really high quality format in 5.1 and sounded great. Also included is the teaser trailer for the movie that started appearing not too long before its release.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
It’s been nearly five years since the original release of Polymatrix, the movie version of the Armitage OVA series that had cut a lot out and added in a number of new scenes. That release was dub only, but still built up something of a following. It must have been selling well over the years, as I’m not sure how else someone figured there was a demand for more of the show.
After watching the movie, I’m glad that there was enough interest among the various parties involved, because this was a good light and fun movie to watch. It’s in the category of sci-fi movie where there’s no real major plot holes, but there’s enough things that make you just chuckle and move on.
Things pick up a number of years after the events of Polymatrix. Naomi and Ross, now living as Kevin Oldman, have their new identities and still live on Mars. Their daughter is growing up nicely, probably about five or six years old if not a little more. Yoko is completely unaware of her mothers past, which is that of a Third. Third’s are a different kind of android, and the focus of the original storyline from Polymatrix. They don’t cover what the Third’s are here, which means that they expect you to have seen that movie already. There’s a couple of little things like that in this movie, so it definitely helps to see it prior to this one.
Ross, under his new name, has a good job as a security guard while Naomi seems to be doing the whole at home mother job. This all goes screwy though when an elite military group stages an attack on a research facility that’s actually secretly producing Thirds, something that’s illegal. But the military folks have their own agenda, and that includes murdering the humans that are there as well and framing it all as a robot rebellion, which they stamped out.
Naomi, with her special connection to the Thirds, learns of the attacks and gets a brief bit of video sent to her showing the who and what of what really happened there as opposed to what’s being broadcast on the news. Sensing another form of her old adversaries showing up again, she leaves her family and dons her old outfit once more and searches out for the colonel that led the attack to try and figure out what’s really going on.
While she’s off doing her own investigation, Ross ends up getting involved as well when an attack on the facility he works at occurs. He manages to take out the terrorists that tried to explode the fuel there, but the robots they had with them escaped but were ultimately caught and destroyed. This provides a shift in the debate that’s the real focus of what’s going on; robot rights. There’s a meeting in just two weeks in Chicago that deals with the Robot Bill of Rights between the two worlds. With Mars and their shrinking population and low birth rate, they’re keen on getting more robots integrated into their society, whereas on Earth it’s the complete opposite.
When Ross, as Kevin, emerges from the events with some controversial statements but still ends up being considered a hero, an old associate of his gets involved and uses him as his proxy for the upcoming vote. This sets the stage for Ross and Yoko to go to Earth, where they’ll find Naomi stalking those who are manipulating everyone behind the scenes, all for the great goal of a business plan.
This in the end is the one thing that hurts the plot as it zips along, is that while we do have a villain and he has some impresive androids of his own to take on Naomi, we don't have any real strong personality as the villain. The executive whose doing all the plotting is a "bad guy", but not one that can really carry things. And the androids he has are definitely good ones, but they suffer from a complete lack of personality. It doesn't lessen the intensity of the final arcs action sequences, but it's something that could have made them much more.
Dual Matrix features some slick looking animation, and most of the 3D style CG animation manages to mesh well. It tends to look better in these SF styled shows than the real world present day ones, and this movie does a better job overall of meshing things together. There are of course some moments that stand out as looking bad, such as the helicopters and some of the doors that close. Some of the doors make you feel like you’re playing a PC RPG. This is something that people all have an opinion on, but it’s something that generally doesn’t bother me all that much if it looks like they at least tried.
The silly plot stuff though just makes me laugh. In the big budget SF films, there’s always the big fight sequence at the end, usually the more unique the setting the better. This one takes place in the space elevator in Chicago, which reaches up into orbit. Now, having been a SF reader and fan for as long as I can remember, I’ve always found the concept of the space elevators fascinating. They’ve gotten the short shrift in the anime world, so when they brought it up here, I was intrigued. While they don’t really do much with it beyond a setting, they drop the ball of believability completely by having this massive base unit and the entire elevator portion be completely unmonitored, unguarded and all around unattended. It just makes things all the more difficult to flow with.
The other one is that when Ross gets the important job of being the proxy for one of the Mars votes, he brings his daughter. Even with Naomi off on her own adventure, wouldn’t the first thing you’d do as a father to the apparently well-off person whose sending you to this, is to have them ensure her safety in his compound? I mean, I certainly wouldn’t take my daughter into such a situation. But of course, doing that would kill a good portion of the third act and the emotional arc of the story.
But barring that, this proved to be a fun little escapist movie that did a good job of balancing the action with the more emotional side of the story, which is the whole motherhood issue that Naomi brings to the table as the unique Third. Yoko and her interactions with both her parents and her parents own realization about her works well, and while important, doesn’t feel like it dominates things. While the Armitage material has never been something that I’ve been jumping up and down to get more of, I found that I rather enjoyed this feature and hope it does well enough to see some more come out for it. They’ve got some nice concepts to play with that could be nicely realized.
Japanese Language 5.1 Surround Sound,English Language 5.1 Surround Sound,English Subtitles,"Assembling Armitage" featurette,5.1 Music Player,Character design gallery,Trailers,16-page printed character guide
Toshiba TW40X81 40" HDTV, Skyworth 1050P Progressive Scan codefree DVD player, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Sony speakers.
Mania Grade: B+
Audio Rating: A
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.
Running time: 90
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Armitage III