This week have another anime review – in the form of the Japanese semi-cyberpunk film Armitage III (meaning Armitage The Third, instead of being the third in a series).

General Information

Elizabeth Berkley as Naomi Armitage
Kiefer Sutherland as Ross Sylibus
Dan Woren as D’anclaude
Barry Stigler as Asakura
Bryan Cranston as Eddie
Debbie Rodgers as Model
Dorothy Fahn as Kelly McCanon
Doug Stone as Coroner
Ellyn Stern as Rosalind
Michael Reynolds as Lt. Larry Randolph
Riva Spier as Jessica Manning
Steve Apostoline as Chris
Steven Blum as Kelly’s manager
Wanda Nowicki as Julien

Directed by Takyua Sato
Written by Chiaki J. Konaka
Animation by AIC

Available from Amazon.com and RightStuf.com

Premise

Ross Sylibus, a police officer from Earth, comes to the colony of Lowell City on Mars to start his new job with the Martian Police department. He meets his new partner of Naomi Armitage just in time to start a new case – the murder of the last Country singer, who turns out to be an android, of a type more sophisticated then ever before encountered.

High Points

We get a really good picture of the Martian colony, which has that same degree of familiar yet mysterious that we got from future Los Angeles in Blade Runner. The film is also extremely well animated.

Low Points

The acting performance from Kiefer Sutherland – and only Sutherland, is abysmal. Certainly, he may have only taken this role for a paycheck, but far better actors then he have taken roles just for paychecks and still tried to deliver a good performance. This is made even worse by the fact that Ross is not totally dissimilar from his later, and more famous, role as Jack Bauer, yet Sutherland sounds horrifically bored.

Ross’s constant man-handling of Naomi (particularly through hoisting her over his shoulder and carrying her), gets kind of annoying at points, and down-grades her bad-assitude. I’m also not a fan of one of the signs of Earth’s government being bad is because they’re “feminist”. Finally, there is no surprise at all when Armitage is revealed as one of the Thirds..

Content Notes

This film has nudity and graphic violence, and dismemberment of cyborgs.

Scores

Originality: This film is a compilation of a 4-episode OVA, but manages to hold up on its own fairly well. That said, the plot does hold some significant connections to Blade Runner. 4 out of 6.

Animation: The animation is excellent, particularly since the original OVAs were animated in the OVA boom, a time when most OVAs were generally animated well, whether they were well written or not. 5 out of 6.

Acting: Every acting performance in this film (which is currently only available dub-only) is excellent… except for Kiefer Sutherland. However, since he plays the lead, he ends up dragging down the whole film. 3 out of 6.

Story: The mystery suspense portion of the plot is okay. However, some of the political aspects make me shake my head. 3 out of 6.

Emotional Response: Armitage is a very likeable character. She’s a great example of an Action Girl protagonist who can also be cheerful and feminine. She’s like a badass Manic Pixie Dream Girl. D’Anclaude is also a very fun villain, like a cybernetic Joker. Unfortunately, the emotional response to the romance between Armitage and Sylibus is undermined by Sutherland’s performance. 4 out of 6.

Production: The sound design in the film is decent, as is the music. Pioneer USA also did a good job of editing the four episodes of the OVA into one film without losing too much of the plot. 4 out of 6.

Overall: This is a decent film, and an almost perfect dub. Still, Sutherland’s performance hurts the film enough that if you can find the series in it’s original 4-OVA form, with the original Japanese audio, go with that instead. 3 out of 6.

In total, Armitage III: Poly-Matrix gets 26 out of 42.