The Animatrix (2003)

(On DVD, June 2003) Yes, this is a ploy to get even more money out of The Matrix fans. But when it’s such an interesting money-grab, one can even be enthusiastic about the attempt. A collection of nine anime shorts set in the world of The Matrix, this is a fun little collection showcasing the strengths of “Japanese-style animation” along with the possibilities of the Wachowski Brothers’ creation. Styles vary enormously, from the hyper-CGI photorealism of “The Last Flight of the Osiris” to the stylized hand-drawings of “Kid’s Story”. The tone is uniformly dour, though, with death to the protagonists being a recurring motif; few happy endings here, and even one piece that can be seen as an apology for teen suicide. But it’s pretty good stuff, and the interest level remains constant despite stories hindered both by length and by the constraints of operating in another person’s universe. The DVD is stuffed with supplements, from an introduction to anime to making-of featurettes that are almost longer than the pieces themselves. It’s an essential stop for all anime fans, and an interesting curio for others that are at least familiar with either anime or The Matrix.

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