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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Armitage: Dual-Matrix Special Edition
Armitage: Dual-Matrix Special Edition
Pioneer // Unrated // June 25, 2002
List Price: $29.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Loren Halek | posted June 25, 2002 | E-mail the Author
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The Movie

I start off my review with a little honesty. I have never seen Armitage – Poly Matrix and pretty much went into Armitage – Dual Matrix cold turkey so to speak. The 14-page insert did help me catch up a bit on what happened in the prequel, so I was kind of confident going into this movie. Overall this is a pretty good movie, but nothing spectacular. The presentation is top-notch though and this movie had a relative fast track to the US from Japan.

Armitage – Dual Matrix is the continuing adventures of Naomi Armitage. She is a Third, a brand of robots that act human. In fact she is the last of the Thirds or so the story goes. In this movie Mars is colonized by Earth and a definite separation of the two worlds has been created. With a critically low birthrate happening on Mars, the government decided to create the Thirds to help the birth rate. The robots to come before the Thirds, the Seconds, did not have the ability to reproduce. Naomi obviously got out of the prequel and had a baby named Yoko with Ross Sylibus, who uses the alias Kevin Oldman to hide from the people who are trying to catch Naomi so they can create more Thirds with birthing abilities.

The movie starts with an Earth army infiltrating an anti-matter factory that is busy building duplicates of Naomi, but without the birthing ability. The army destroys the anti-matter factory and Naomi feels the death of her duplicates. She watches on TV as they talk about the destruction and Naomi figures out someone is after her and she dons her old clothing and heads for Earth. She wants to cut this threat off before it gets anywhere near her daughter or husband. While on her way to Earth, Ross has a run-in with terrorists at his workplace. He ends up killing 3 humans while 3 robots get away. While being questioned by the press about the whole thing, Ross makes a statement that robots have rights too. Conveniently there is a summit coming up between Earth and Mars in Chicago that will weigh the very opinion of whether robots should be treated as humans are or not. The leader of Mars decides it would be best if Ross is one of the dignitaries at this summit because it could be important for the future of Yoko. Ross reluctantly accepts.

Meanwhile, Naomi meets the villain of the movie, Demetrio while attacking the Colonel that destroyed the anti-matter factory. It seems Demetrio wants Naomi for one reason: to give him the information needed to make his illegal Thirds able to have babies. He has them perfectly cloned except for that one thing. Naomi of course does not comply and Demetrio sends a large robot after her. This robot is able to jam her powers, but somehow she turns it off and gets away with lots of spikes impaled in her.

Here we meet Mouse, who is obviously a Second. He seems to be a genius engineer and he agrees to repair Naomi for a price. We then see Ross and Yoko coming to Earth. Yoko is kidnapped by Demetrio and Ross is blackmailed into voting no on the bill to make humans and robots co-exist. Instead he decides to abstain with the promise he will get Yoko back. Naomi sees Ross abstain from voting and she is shocked, obviously not knowing that her daughter was kidnapped and Ross was blackmailed.

Eventually Naomi and Ross meet up and they decide to go get Yoko forcefully. Mostly the whole second half is one long action scene. Demetrio has created two copies of Armitage and he sends them to kill Naomi. Naomi holds them off a few times before she is seriously hurt. She gives Ross and Yoko enough time to escape, but the copies chase after them. In one way the second half is a straight action sequence, but in another there are a lot of feelings behind it. When Yoko sees her mother again she notices metal and realizes her mother is a robot. She is scared by this and it hurts Naomi that her daughter seems to have shunned her, but in the end everything seems to work out.

The reason this is called Dual-Matrix is actually quite interesting. I had my ideas about it, but until I saw the director interview I did not know truly. The title is in reference to the fact that Naomi Armitage lives two lives: a killing machine and a loving, human mother. She has to strike a balance between the two and it is obvious that she cannot leave her machine parts behind so easily as she would like. She is both going after revenge and trying to protect her family. At first Yoko loves her mom, but then when she finds out she is a killing machine she is taken aback. Eventually Yoko decides Naomi is still her mother whether she is a robot or not.

The plot is not very deep in this show. It is a good stand-alone movie though in my opinion. A lot of things are a little too coincidental for me in this movie. The summit and the fact that Ross goes to it. It is obvious that Yoko will be kidnapped, it is kind of like we are being lead to the final battle, which has some of the best in the movie. I think a little more story would have made this film a bit better, but overall it is a good escapist movie that does not make you think too much, but far more than a movie like Spriggan did.

The DVD

Video: Presented in its OAR of 1.33:1. I think this movie would have benefited a lot by an anamorphic presentation. The art style is so wonderful in this movie, which is not surprising coming from AIC. The video here is pretty flawless, which is not surprising given this movie was made only recently. The 2D/3D blend is wonderful in this movie and seems to make the movie flow well. My one complaint would be there was a lot of Pioneer placement in the movie. Pioneer was a co-producer for this movie and seem to be co-producing a lot of AIC based things nowadays such as the upcoming Tenchi 3rd OVA. The art here is just top notch, now if the story could only hold a candle to it.

Sound: Presented in Dolby Digital 5.1 in both English and Japanese as well as a Dolby Digital 2.0 English track. Both tracks were really great with a slight edge going to the Japanese track, which seemed to have a fuller sound during the action scenes with more directionality between the speakers. The big selling point is the fact that Juliette Lewis is the voice for Naomi Armitage and she actually does quite well, which I was very surprised by. Even Jar Jar Binks voice makes an appearance as Mouse, the genius engineer. Overall the sound was on the level of the video, simply great.

Menus: Another great menu by Nightjar. I cannot recommend them enough because of their work on menus for such things as Akira and Trigun. They have made menus an art form and this is no different. The menu has full Dobly Digital 5.1 sound going, much like Akira did and the menu are discs revolving around the menu. The menu is easy to navigate as well.

Extras:

Assembling Armitage: Many different interviews in this 17 minute section. The first one is by director Katsuhito Akiyama who goes over the importance of the storyboard. He talks about how the storyboard will make or break a film. He even talks about how he will throw an idea away and then go into the garbage and get it again because he likes it again. He talks about the steps taken from conception to completion for this movie. It is an interesting part and I wish it was longer. This section is English subtitled.

There is then an interview with the American composer Julian Mack who did the score for the movie. The director talks about how he was afraid of the language barrier, but that music crosses all boundaries. Mack goes over the process he went through to getting a score done for the film. It is slightly less interesting than the director's interview.

Then there is an interview with Juliette Lewis, who talks about how exciting it was to do the voice over for Naomi Armitage. The final piece goes back to Akiyama who explains that Demetrio was created to bring out the dual psychology of Naomi: one of killing machine and one as a human mother. He also talks about why Yoko does not speak much and that her actions would speak far louder than her words.

Character Designs: 60 character, weapon and cityscape designs. Mostly in sketch design with some final forms for characters and weapons

5.1 Music Theater: Another great extra here and I believe the first one to appear in anime. This gives you 3 of the songs from the score in full Dolby Digital 5.1 treatment. They are recorded in 16-bit, 48kHz at 448 kbps. The sound is awesome and it would have been really neat to have the whole score in this section. The pieces are "Armitage's Theme", "Orchestral Theme" and "Red Planet". Each run for several minutes.

Teaser Trailer: The Dual-Matrix teaser trailer that was probably shown on other Pioneer discs before release.

Pioneer Previews: Vandread, Hellsing and Soul Taker all in 4:3 letterbox format. Their actual releases are in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen I believe and I was saddened that they were not in that aspect on the preview. It is good to see anime OVAs going this way. There is also a preview of Gate Keepers

14 page booklet: A 14-page booklet that catches you up on the history that happened before this movie. It also gives a short biography on the characters presented in this movie and their history. It also goes into some characters from the first movie and their connections to characters in this movie.

Final Thoughts: Armitage: Dual-Matrix is a good movie with wonderful visual and sound treatment. I am going to recommend this disc for those two things plus the good amount of extras as well. The movie itself is not great, but it is a good escapist movie to watch. You do not have to think too hard unless you want to. Definitely get this release for the visuals and sound though, they are exceptional. However this movie suffers in the writing department, but the Japanese track with English subtitles may help you in that case. I would love to highly recommend this, but the story just brings this all down a notch.
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