"Armitage" is definitely an exciting anime, using digital imaging to enhance scenes. A car chase in 3-D is one of the more interesting scenes in the film. Once again, the story can be hard to get at first.
Armitage: Dual Matrix, Special Edition
Directors: Katsuhito Akiyama
Producers: Yosuke Kobayashi, Toru Miura
Writers: Hideki Kakinuma, Satoshi Wada, Naoko Hasegawa
Features: Audio: English 5.1 Dolby Digital, English Dolby Surround, Japanese Dolby Digital 5.1; Scene Access, Subtitles: English; "Assembling Armitage" Featurette; "5.1 Music Player"; Character Design Gallery; Teaser Trailer; Pioneer Animation Previews; Armitage Special Collectors' 16 Page Character Guide
Naomi Armitage - Juliette Lewis
Ross Sylibus - Skip Stellrecht
Yoko - Rebecca Forstadt
Demitrio - Michael McConnohie
Mouse - Ahmed A. Best
Anime has started to grow on me. After first seeing "AKIRA," I was definitely intrigued. What I have found is that Pioneer has continuously brought out top quality DVDs, which have great story lines and interesting characters. Of course, "The Adventures of Mini-Goddess" is not what I consider high quality, since it was geared towards kids. But as "Mini-Goddess" is for the youngsters, "Armitage" is definitely for mature audiences.
"Armitage: Dual Matrix" was actually the Special Edition, and has a variety of special features included. However, there was a sticker that said that what I had may not be the final product. Does that mean that there could be more features in the final product? The street date is scheduled for June 25th, so I doubt if there will be any additions. Despite the uncertainty, this disc came with some nice features.
First, Pioneer made the sound resonate in 5.1 Dolby Digital. It was crisp as if each speaker on my theater system had a voice of its own. As I have stated before, I wish Pioneer produced all DVDs with regards to sound and picture. Yes, the picture. The picture was very clear though it was easy to tell the difference between the digital effects and the actual anime drawings. Both were stunning regardless.
There was also an "Assembling Armitage" featurette that explained how the Armitage DVD came to be. You get interviews from actress Juliette Lewis, Director Katsuhito Akiyama, and Julian Mack, the composer. It was actually a pretty informative featurette, and you see why Juliette Lewis decided to do the voice for Armitage, the heroine in this film. Mack explains what was done to produce the 5.1 soundtrack for "Armitage." Also, the CD soundtrack is also in 5.1 sound.
The character design gallery is also available for viewers to peruse. There is also a sixteen page booklet that explains some of the story previous to "Armitage: Dual Matrix" and gives highlights of the characters. It would be helpful for viewers to scan through this booklet and get a better understanding of the story than to just rush into watching the movie. There is also a trailer, and previews section, which shows some of Pioneer's other animation DVDs.
"Armitage" starts off with the main character Armitage (Lewis - "Kalifornia") dreaming (?) of an attack at an anti-matter plant on Earth. All the "thirds," which are robots who can have babies, are killed. That means that Armitage is the only "third" left. The news in the morning confirms her dream, except it says that the "thirds" caused the riot. She goes off to earth to investigate, leaving her daughter Yoko and husband Ross (aka Kevin) on Mars.
Her husband, meanwhile, becomes a hero and is sent to Earth to help pass some legislation that would give robots the same rights as humans. A sinister businessman named Demitrio kidnaps Yoko, to influence Ross' vote on the issue. Armitage finds out that Demitrio is involved in the "third" massacre. Demitrio sets a trap for her and she is severely damaged.
A robot named Mouse (Best - "Episode I: The Phantom Menace") repairs her, but also gets her schematics and sells them to Demitrio, who later double-crosses him. Demitrio then duplicates Armitage into two replicas, hoping to get at the secret to how "thirds" make babies. He is unsuccessful, and tries to capture Armitage to find the secret, using Yoko as the bait.
This story was really very interesting, but I wish I had seen the first movie to get a better understanding. The booklet really helped fill the gaps, but there are still some things that could be explained. Like, what is the "Dual Matrix?" I was never able to figure that one out. Also, Best (the voice of Mouse) is best remembered as the much hated and annoying voice of Jar Jar Binks. Unfortunately, Mouse's voice is just as annoying. Every scene with Mouse was like nails on a chalkboard. They really could have done without him.
With the exception of Mouse, the story has a lot of action. There are definitely blood and guts, and the small parts of nudity definitely earn it the 16up rating that it has. The characters are really likeable (except Mouse), but I almost wish that Armitage is explained a little better. Then again, I did miss the first movie. There are probably some huge character development scenes in that film. Regardless, the booklet is something needed to understand the storyline. Either read that or go to the website at www.armitagedvd.com or to Pioneer's site. It's worth the effort and time!
I would rate "Armitage" with three and a half stars out of five. It is visually impressive, but does not meet the level of "AKIRA" which I have set as the bench mark for anime. (Mouse kind of ruined the film for me in some ways.) Only "Vandread" has reached that benchmark level. However, "Armitage" has been the only other film to offer actual special features since that "AKIRA" release. Pioneer once again does an amazing job with sound and picture clarity. If you are an anime fan, this film is definitely worth owning. I know I will probably want to check out the other movies in this series.