Armitage III: Poly Matrix Reviews
[i]Armitage III: Poly-Matrix[/i] opens as an interplanetary transport ship makes its final approach into a Martian airport. Aboard the transport ship is Ross Sylibus (voiced by Keifer Sutherland), a police detective transferred to Mars (for an unspecified reason). Within moments, Ross is caught in a running gun battle. He?s more witness than participant, since he?s unarmed. Luckily, his new fetish-wearing partner, Naomi Armitage (Elizabeth Berkeley), is on hand to handle the thugs. One blond-haired thug manages to escape, however, but leaves behind an oversized suitcase. Ross and Naomi make a gruesome discovery: the body of a famous country-western singer. To both their surprise, the dead singer is a cyborg. She is, in fact, a third, a third-generation cyborg. Thirds can have emotional lives, but just as importantly, are capable of creating art. They can, of course, blend into the human population. There?s just one problem: thirds are illegal on Mars.
The singer?s death, however, is the first of several, as the blond-haired killer, D'Anclaude, simultaneously targets other thirds and attempts to incite mob violence against them. Ross and Naomi must, of course, stop D'Anclaude, but their investigation inevitably leads to a conspiracy-laden plot, possibly involving the absent head of a research team that built the thirds and government officials with a hidden agenda involving the thirds and the future of Mars. Along the way to uncovering the identities of the power brokers behind the organized destruction of the thirds, Ross and Naomi have a lot of ground to cover, which results in multiple firefights, including a spectacular confrontation outside a research lab involving acrobatic gunplay and massive destruction of government property. D'Anclaude continues to reappear intermittently, taunting Ross and Naomi with his plans and proving himself nearly indestructible in [i]Terminator[/i]-like fashion. The finale confrontation occurs in a parched, desert setting, with Ross strapped into a [i]mecha[/i] suit and Naomi suitably armed with firepower and enhancements of her own (which suggests another, more local, influence, Yukito Kishiro?s [i]Battle Angel Alita[/i]), standing alone against a robot army.
Not surprisingly, Naomi isn?t who she appears to be, and Ross? last case on earth has a tangential relationship, if not to the case at hand, then to his conflicted feelings for and against androids. Ross? conflicted feelings, of course, will be resolved (that?s essentially the extent of Ross? character arc). Takuya Sato and Chiaki Konaka keep the pacing relatively tight, doling out bits of much-needed exposition during breaks from the action scenes, while also giving Naomi?s character space to ruminate superficially about the nature of identity (an issue handled with more delicacy and insight in Mamoru Oshî's [i]Ghost in the Shell[/i]).
The obvious lack of originality, predictable plotting, and a villain dispatched too early in the film makes [i]Armitage III: Poly-Matrix[/i] a difficult animé to recommend. The animation, while above average for OVAs, will likely disappoint audiences expecting theatrical-level quality (they won?t get it). The character designs closely follow animé standards, with the female characters relegated to round-faced, large-eyed, slim-hipped designs. Ross Sylibus surprisingly resembles the late American actor Rock Hudson. Some of the animation lacks detail, but Sato and his animators excel in creating [i]Blade Runner[/i]-like cityscapes. Watching the unedited, four-part OVA may fill in some of the story and logic gaps, but it?s unlikely to resolve all, or even most, of them. Ultimately, [i]Armitage III: Poly-Matrix[/i] is strictly for animé/cyberpunk fans.