“The Animatrix” is well worth checking out if you are a fan of the universe of “The Matrix.” This anthology series captures more aspects of the world from the live-action films while giving us unique takes with animation and direction to tell those stories. The one warning I will say this is it is graphic especially in regards to violence as the stories do cover the war against the machines and everything that lead up to the creation of the Matrix by the machines. If you are good with that though these stories are well worth your time and do so much to explore the fascinating universe the Wachowskis created.
This anthology series was produced by the Wachowskis.
The stories cover the lead-up to humanity being enslaved into the Matrix and how it happened and captures stories from around the timeline of the films from before the “The Matrix” and up to “The Matrix Revolutions.”
I’ll be rating the stories from worst to best.
So without further ado here we go.:
8th) Kid’s Story
Directed by Shinichiro Watanabe and written by Lilly and Lana Wachowski.
This one doesn’t really do anything original and the animation is the worst 2D animation of the anthology. The Kid was one of the weaker characters in the “Matrix” films so that doesn’t help. You just see Neo helps him believe and he escapes a bunch of Agents at his high school. Better animation would have boosted it to enjoyable as it never gets beyond okay because of how scattered the animation and focus of the story is. The Kid is a blank character which doesn’t help the story as we just see he is apathetic and doesn’t care about school but he never is really seen to be a troublemaker, just distracted so the effort the Agents put into catching him doesn’t make sense.
Score: 5 / 10
Directed by Koji Morimoto who also wrote the episode.
“Beyond” is a cool idea with a glitch in the Matrix being explored before Agents come and destroy the glitch. The mystery behind it is cool and seeing how it kids build a community around the “Haunted House.” What keeps it from being good is we never get to know any of the characters and the hint of the glitch being a possible way out of the Matrix is never fully explored. Still as a glitch in the Matrix being explored is such a cool idea which makes the episode enjoyable. We don’t really get to know the characters or what is at stake as to why the Agents are trying to destroy the glitch though. For this reason it isn’t good and only enjoyable as it feels like the first draft of a story and just needed to explore a few more aspects of that story (Characters and villain motivation) to fully make it work.
Score: 7 / 10
Directed by Peter Chung who also wrote the episode.
“Matriculated” is a cool idea with human resistance above ground trying to convert machines to their cause but where it falls apart is the 3D animation doesn’t work. Where the 2D animation is sharp and flows and 3D is clumsy and it hurts the compelling tragedy being told as the machine does convert over but when he brings the final human survivor into the digital world she freaks out and dies. This episode captures how hopeless peace out of the war seems and that is what makes it really enjoyable. We don’t really get to know the characters or the machine though which is what holds it back and of course the 3D animation doesn’t work too which also keeps me from considering this episode good.
Score: 7.2 / 10
5th) The Second Renaissance Part 1 and 2
Directed by Mahiro Maeda and written by Lilly and Lana Wachowski.
“The Second Renaissance” is a 2-part story that I’m scoring as 1 since they are the whole story being told. They tell the story of the initial oppression of the machines that lead to their uprising, creating the Nation of 01 and eventually war when humans refused to recognize them. From here you see the conflict grow with the machines eventual win after humans blotted out the sky and the formation of the Matrix. It is a powerfully animated story and the distinct style feels like a realistic lead-up to the wold of the films. It is solidly good in presentation and exploration of the themes of resistance and oppression.
Score: 8 / 10
4th) World Record
Directed by Takeshi Koike and written by Yoshiaki Kawajiri.
“World Record” gives us a situation of a runner who breaks through the program because of how hard he pushes his body. The concept and how the Agents are used is cool but we don’t get to know the characters all that much. It is a good episode though and the presentation and aftermath of him remembering what he saw in the “real” worked really well.
Score: 8.4 / 10
3rd) Last Flight of the Osiris
Directed by Andy Jones and written by Lilly and Lana Wachowski.
“Last Flight of the Osiris” would have worked as a show. We get to see how the Captain Thadeus and his lover Jue spend their downtime using fighting in the matrix to flirt and we see them discover the machine invasion of Zion and how they risk everything to warn them by dropping a package in the Matrix. I wanted to know more about the crew but Thadeus and Jue were interesting characters. This like one of the later stories on this list is one that would have worked really well as as mini-series as I see the promise of the characters but we only really get to know Thadeus and Jue.
Score: 8.5 / 10
2nd) A Detective’s Story
Directed by Shinichiro Watanabe who also wrote the episode.
This episode is a noir and animated in 1940s style and black and white. It is neat seeing a detective hunt for Trinity and how he isn’t able to leave the Matrix as he is nearly possessed by an agent. The animation and his short friendship with Trinity are great though and how it suggests that time may not apply in the same way in the Matrix and Trinity and the freed humans could be much older than those still trapped. This one I rate highly because we get to know the detective and his motivation and even though he can’t join Trinity and leave the Matrix, his last act is to cover her escape and resist the Agents.
Score: 9 / 10
Directed by Yoshiaki Kawajiri who also wrote the episode.
“Program” like “Last Flight” I also would like to see as a show. Cis and Duo fight and Duo reveals he is going to betray humanity and return to the Matrix. It makes their fight all the more intense as prior they are discussing the appeal of this Feudal Japanese program they are in and how it relates to the Matrix. In the end it is revealed Duo didn’t exist and she passed the test. It is powerful and I wanted more time with the crew after that. It was great action and had the best animation out of them all and the twist and drama worked extremely well. I would watch a show around this crew and it had my favorite animation out of them all.
Score: 9.5 / 10
This was a really enjoyable anthology series that was nearly all good if it had just explored some of who the characters were better. A lot of these episodes work great as concepts but we don’t get to know the characters all that well except for maybe “Program” and “A Detective’s Story.” Outside of those great episode it is really solid themes and concepts that are explored but we never get to find out who the characters are who we are following. If that had been fixed I would say this is a good anthology rather than the really enjoyable anthology it ends up being. Still, if you like the universe the Wachowskis made this is an anthology film well worth your time that I would recommend.
Final Score: 7.8 / 10