Armitage III: Polymatrix

Conjuring up similarities to both Blade Runner and The Matrix, ‘Armitage III: Polymatrix’ is a futuristic tale that questions the importance of life; human or robotic, what’s the difference?

Huge skyscrapers penetrate the Mars skyline, often blocking out the sun light. Thousands of people go about their jobs, either oblivious to or just uncaring of their terrible every day living conditions. Cyborgs have become common place, especially on Mars, where some have even been illegally designed to conceive offspring to increase the Mars population. Apparently it’s tough for normal human’s to give birth on Mars.

But all is not well though; humans have become weary of their robotic creations. Jobs aren’t as freely available anymore and mass unemployment will often lead to restlessness. A revolution is about to begin – the humans want rid of the cyborgs and in their blind hatred, are failing to accept the obvious truth that many of the ‘3rd type’ cyborgs are more human than they could ever possibly imagine. If an artificial intelligence can feel pain, shed tears and give birth, what’s to say they haven’t been granted a soul for themselves?

Naomi Armitage is just one such example, a bloody good police officer, but also a ‘3rd type’ cyborg. With many of her kind being murdered around her and society gradually beginning to turn against all robotic-kind, she makes a desperate attempt at understanding her existence and the reason behind her creation.

Accompanying her is Ross Syllabus, her new partner and a person who once held a specific grudge against all cyborgs. Gradually understanding the sheer genocide being committed by the human race and witnessing Armitage’s pain at first hand, Ross Syllabus befriends Armitage and joins her in her quest for true freedom.

For such a complex and deep plot, this shortened version of Armitage III (originally a 4 part OAV) is just too ambitious for its running time. Lasting only 90 minutes, we are treated to so many differing kinds philosophies and ways of thinking that the plot looses a little of its focus during the mid-section of the feature.

The city in which the majority of Armitage III is played out has been illustrated beautifully, giving us a true vision of a futuristic, yet seemingly inevitable metropolis. A city filled with giant commercial sky scrappers and littered with the kind of grittiness that can only compare with such classics as Blade Runner, Akira and Ghost in the Shell.

With this disc not containing the original Japanese language track, we are treated instead to some celebrity voice actors, with none other than Kiefer Sutherland and Elizabeth Berkely playing the 2 main roles. And indeed, the English cast does an impressive job- I found myself listening to the story and not the actor behind the voice, always a good sign that a dub has been successful.

An amazingly ambitious anime movie that was well ahead of it’s time (being released in 1997), Armitage III is only let down by it’s short running time. With such thought provoking questions being pondered, it’s no surprise to see this was originally aired as 4 part series.

The last 20 minutes or so of the film are my favourite, showing us the character’s true passion for their cause as well as placing the blame firmly on the shoulders of the human governments. If we ever gain the power to create a sentient life form, it should left to that life form to decide their ultimate fate for themselves. Giving life doesn’t automatically grant us the right to take it away as we please. And far from this being simply a futuristic fantasy tale, we are seeing many of the atrocities committed in this film mirrored across our own history and even in this present day…..

7 / 10

Paul

Washed up on the good shores of Anime UK News after many a year at sea. Also known as @bateszi, Paul has been writing about anime for a long time here at AUKN and at his anime blog.

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