ARMITAGE III: POLYMATRIX (1996)

 

Format: 90-minute feature

 

Rating: R (N, AC, AL, GV)

 

American Production: Pioneer (now Geneon)

 

Japanese Production: AIC

 

Grading

 

Premise:

B

Story:

B

Writing:

C+

Character Design:

C+

Mecha Design:

C

Animation:

C

Artistic Merits:

C+

English Dub:

B

Musical Score:

C+

 

 

Humor Content:

n/a

Action Content:

B

Drama Content:

C

 

 

DVD Presentation:

C+

DVD Extras:

D+

 

 

OVERALL:

C+

 

Synopsis

      In the year 2179 policeman Ross Sylibus transfers to the well-colonized Mars to get a fresh start after losing his partner and a leg to a cybernetic killer (he now gets by with a cybernetic leg). Almost immediately he gets embroiled in the investigation and pursuit of a dangerous radical named D’Aunclaude, who seems intent on exposing a secret: that an advanced (and technically illegal) class of robots called Thirds have been successfully passing themselves off as human women. Unlike earlier generations, Thirds can outwardly pass for - and behave like - humans in every respect; they can cry, have emotions, display artistic creativity, and apparently even make love without giving away their true natures. Their existence is a hot issue on a planet where resentment of robots is growing despite the fact that Mars is heavily dependent on a labor force of robots called Seconds, and it becomes even hotter when politics get involved. It becomes personal when his new partner, a diminutive hot pants and halter top-clad spitfire named Naomi Armitage, turns out to not only be one of these Thirds but a special one as well. Where do Ross’s loyalties ultimately lie?

 

The Long View

      As you might surmise from the Synopsis, the full title of Armitage refers to the fact that the title character is a Third and not that this is the third movie in a series. This takes the story down the well-traveled road of the robots mimicking humanity in every way, including falling in love with a human character. The story does put one big (and implausible) twist on this standard theme: Thirds can do something that robots normally can’t, but I won’t discuss that further since it is a significant plot point. Despite the shaky plotting (the story doesn’t explain itself well in places and tends to take logical leaps), the story basically comes down to a tale of two people trying to find a place for themselves in a world where the existence of one is problematic.

      The technical merits of Armitage are not its strong point. For series anime the animation and artistry would probably be okay, but better is expected of a feature film. The action scenes do help salvage the movie, though, as does the weird stylistic dichotomy between ultra-advanced and extremely retro technology. (Ross drives a car that looks like it could have come out of the 1960s.) The art design of the Martian settings is interesting but not especially novel. The vocal performances are fine and the techno-themed musical scoring is adequate.

      The rating for Armitage is for a few brief scenes of nudity, some graphic violence, and some adult content (in a couple of different scenes people are shown carrying around fanciful human-sized dolls that are clearly implied to be sex toys).

      So why should someone see Armitage? The central characters are appealing, and there is a good amount of mystery to the series. Why is Armitage, despite her size, so much stronger and tougher than most other Thirds? What is D’Anclaude’s true nature? And what is the big secret behind the existence of the Thirds and why are they such a threat to certain parties? Although it isn’t a great movie, Armitage is ultimately worth watching long enough to learn those secrets.

      One other comment: there is an OVA series called Armitage, which I understand is more or less the movie divided in several separate episodes.

 

DVD Extras

      Although anime, the original voice work for Armitage was done in English. As a result, the American DVD has only an English voice track with Japanese subtitles and English closed-captioned subtitling available. This is an extremely unusual arrangement. The titles used for the categories on the menus are also a bit unusual. (“Hyper Jump” for scene selection, for instance.)

      Extras on the DVD are limited to a trailer for the movie and brief profiles of/interviews with a couple of key personnel.

 

Principle English Voice Actors

Role

Voice Actor

Naomi Armitage

Elizabeth Berkley

Ross Syllabus

Keither Sutherland

D’anclaude

Dan Woren

Julian

Wanda Nowicki

Lt. Randolph

Mike Reynolds

Asakura

Barry Stigler

Eddie

Bryan Cranston

Chris

Steve Apostolina

Kelly McCannon

Dorothy Fahn

Manager

Steven Blum

Jessica

Riva Spier

Rosalind

Ellyn Stern

additional voices

Wendee Lee (among others)

 

 

 

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