Armitage - Dual Matrix Reviews
A HIDDEN JEWEL OF ANIME
The plot in [i]Armitage: Dual Matrix[/i] borrows heavily from the original series, replacing a government conspiracy to eliminate thirds on Mars with a corporate scheme to uncover the secret behind Naomi?s unique ability to procreate. [i]Armitage: Dual Matrix[/i] also borrows its predecessor?s blend of massive firepower and mayhem, sometimes to superior effect. [i]Armitage: Dual Matrix[/i] opens several years after the events in the first series/film. Ross and Naomi have disappeared into new identities, with Ross working as a security guard and Naomi happily playing homemaker and mother. They also have a young, pre-adolescent daughter, Yoko. Their picture postcard life quickly unravels, however, as Naomi receives a transmission from a dying third on Earth. The third was part of a secret government experiment located on a secluded island. Earthers presume the third was part of a cyborg revolt, violently put down by a group of commandos, at great loss. Naomi assumes otherwise and heads off to Earth, to Chicago. On Earth, Naomi encounters the principal villain, Dimitrios, the head of the Earth Robotics Corporation.
Back on Mars, Ross single-handedly defeats a group of well-trained, heavily armed commandos (presumably terrorists) attempting to destroy a fuel storage facility. Hailed as a hero by the Martian media, Ross becomes a replacement delegate to a governmental conference on Earth, in Chicago (the subject: robot or cyborg rights). Taking Yoko with him to Earth (for no credible reason except to place Yoko in danger at the appropriate time). Yoko is effortlessly kidnapped by Dimitrio?s men from Ross' hotel and held for ransom. Dimitrios, however, offers Ross an even exchange: Ross? ?no? vote at the conference for Yoko's safe return.
Naomi and Ross find each other, effectively joining the two plotlines. From there, the goal is obvious, recovering and saving Yoko from Dimitrios. Before they can rescue Yoko, however, Ross and Naomi must fight their way through a gauntlet, specifically two other thirds, hard wired into combat cyborgs. The replicas have abilities not shared by Naomi, including the power of flight, retractable blades, and in-line skates built into their feet. The twins are incapable of speech, with the exception of constant (and annoying) giggling. The climax takes Ross, Naomi, and the twins from a battle inside the Earth Robotics Corporation to hand-to-hand combat aboard moving lifts (the lifts connect Chicago to an orbital elevator). The running battle between Ross, Naomi and the cyborg twins takes almost half the running time in [i]Armitage: Dual Matrix[/i] and functions as the centerpiece of the film. This set piece blends the 2D and 3D better than earlier action scenes, where the CGI is poorly integrated into the 2D animation.
Story wise, [i]Armitage: Dual Matrix[/i] offers little beyond the first series/film. The director, Katsuhito Akiyama, and his screenwriters, Naoko Hasegawa and Hideki Kakinuma, play it relatively safe, choosing to repeat key elements from the original series, even centering the main plotline on Naomi?s unique abilities (again). Hasegawa and Kakinuma also prove themselves lazy scriptwriters, often dispensing with logic (e.g., Ross bringing his daughter to Earth) or simply failing to provide an answer to the central question, except with banalities. Akiyama and his screenwriters do keep the pacing in [i]Armitage: Dual Matrix[/i] tightly focused, especially in the second half, when the conspiracy element becomes a mere distraction from the pursuit plot, which owes a great deal to [i]The Terminator[/i] films. Akiyama could have also better handled the integration of 2D and 3D animation and avoided the constant horizontal and vertical panning that seems to open or close every scene in the first half, but for most animé fans, these problems will be easily overlooked.