- June 3, 2003
The Animatrix is a collection of short animated films set in the world of The Matrix. Here we will take a look at each story.
Final Flight of the Osiris
- Directed by Andrew R. Jones
- Thadeus-Kevin Michael Richardson
- Jue-Pamela Adlon
- Crewman-John DiMaggio
- Operator-Tom Kenny
- Pilot-Rick Gomez
- Crewwoman-Tara Strong
- Old Woman-Bette Ford
The hovercraft Osiris discovers a group of machines directly above Zion preparing to drill down.
This is a bit of CGI animation that not only sets the stage for the events of The Matrix Reloaded but the events of the video game Enter the Matrix as well.
This is a nail-biting story as this crew struggles to get the information of the impending attack to the last outpost of human civilization. The action starts and does not stop with the tension rising rapidly. Final Flight of the Osiris is also a great bit of drama. You are hoping for the best outcome but c’mon! This is The Matrix so you have to know that not everything will come up all gumdrops and lollipops.
While the story is still good, the CGI animation has not aged well. I remember seeing this when it first came out and I was wowed by its realism but now with advancements in technology the characters look a little flat and their movements unnatural.
The finale of Final Flight of the Osiris is a real gut punch but strangely still hopeful. They understood that you can have a strong and empowering story even if the heroes do not succeed. There is something good in fighting against impossible odds.
The Second Renaissance Parts I & II
- Directed by Mahiro Maeda
- The Instructor-Julia Fletcher
- 01 Versatran Spokesman-Dane Davis
- Kid-Debi Derryberry
- Mother-Jill Talley
- Extra Voices-Dwight Schultz, James Arnold Taylor, Jill Talley
A brief history of the shattering events that led up to the machine conquest and subjugation of the human race.
The Second Renaissance Parts I & II has perhaps some of the most disturbing imagery of any of the films presented here. Its focus is specifically the horror brought about by the war against the machines, but you could take it broadly as the general horrors of war.
I find it interesting that at one point they show human sympathizers marching with the machines. I’ve heard it joked that if there were a zombie apocalypse people would be arguing for zombie rights and I can see something like this happening where in modern society with the best of intentions they foolishly support something that is the beginning of our doom.
War is brutal and at times filled with stupid decisions that come back to haunt the losing side. There are plenty of stupid decisions on the side of humanity in this story. I don’t mean that as a negative. The narrative is constructed well enough that you can see at the point the decision was made that it seemed intelligent but in hindsight was just a bad idea.
If anything, The Second Renaissance Parts I & II highlights the shortsighted nature of mankind in a way that only The Matrix can.
The Second Renaissance Parts I & II are perhaps the best stories of the bunch here. While I don’t think an origin story was necessary as enough was given in the films, it is interesting to see how things started. It’s not often that the creators can do an origin story that is as good as what is implied.
- Directed by Shin’ichirou Watanabe
- The Kid-Clayton Watson
- Neo-Keanu Reeves
- Trinity-Carrie-Anne Moss
- Teacher-John DeMita
- Cop-Kevin Michael Richardson
- Extras-James Arnold Taylor
A young man feels that there is something wrong with the world only to realize it is much more serious than even he could imagine.
Kid’s Story fleshes out the background of the supporting matrix character The Kid. The narrative starts out quietly enough and becomes a frenetic chase as this young man struggles to survive against the agents of the Matrix.
The story itself is a bit of a play on the origin of Neo and left me wondering why was Neo so special to anyone that knew The Kid? I understand the whole story behind the Matrix but given what happened with this kid how did Neo get viewed as special? The Kid was vastly more special.
Kid’s Story is an entertaining and rather enjoyable short that adds to The Matrix without becoming necessary to view for enjoyment.
- Directed by Yoshiaki Kawajiri
- Cis-Hedy Buress
- Duo-Phil LaMarr
- Kaiser-John DiMaggio
While in a simulation set in feudal Japan, a woman learns that humanity may have been betrayed.
While Program opens with a bit of action this story is much more of a dramatic piece than anything else. The main thrust of the story is what do you do in a case of betrayal? Cis is not tempted by Duo’s offer but is conflicted on what exactly to do.
That animation is slightly stylized but not heavily exaggerated. There is a sweat spot for me between realistic and exaggerated that I can tolerate and this just makes it in there.
I found the twist at the end rather unexpected. Given the nature of the universe in which this is set I did not think things would turn out as they did. I did however find Cis’s reaction rather predictable which was the only real weakness here.
Program is an enjoyable short that offers a few surprises.
- Directed by Takeshi Koike
- Narrator-Julia Fletcher
- Dan-Victor Williams
- Dan’s Father-John Wesley
- Tom-Alex Fernandez
- Reporter-Allison Smith
- Nurse-Tara Strong
- Agent 1-Matt McKenzie
- Agent 2-Kevin Michael Richarson
A disgraced runner attempts to compete one more time to prove that he really can do it. Unfortunately this time he draws the attention of agents of the Matrix.
The story of World Record, while entertaining, feels like a play on the events of Kid’s Story. It’s a little bit of retread unfortunately. It still manages to entertain but does not offer much different with things. I don’t think it really adds too much to the Matrix Universe. The others either fleshed out the concept or fleshed out a particular character but this didn’t do too much for anything.
I’m not a fan of the animation either. Stylized isn’t bad but everything feels exaggerated as if they’re over gesticulating and that bothers me. It’s the same thing they did in Teen Titans Go! and I just can’t watch that.
While World Record is the weakest of the bunch, in a collection where all the stories of strong that isn’t a bad thing.
- Directed by Kouji Morimoto
- Yoko-Hedy Buress
- Housewife, Kenny-Tress MacNeille
- Manabu-Pamela Adlon
- Masa, Sara, Pudgy-Kath Soucie
- Misha-Tara Strong
- Agent-Matt McKenzie
- Extras-Jack Fletcher, Jill Talley, Julia Fletcher, Tom Kenny
A young girl while looking for her lost cat stumbles across a glitch in the Matrix that she believes to be a haunted house.
Beyond is definitely a unique story in this collection. What sets it apart from the others is that as compared to all the rest of the stories not one of the central characters involved learns a thing about the Matrix. They are all left believing they encountered something unusual but the truth is never clear.
The phrase “glitch in the Matrix” has become rather common. This surely predates its common usage but demonstrates what a natural glitch in the Matrix would look like and how it would be perceived by those who know nothing of reality. This isn’t just an incident of déjà vu as used in the original film. I would liken it almost to an episode of The X-Files where everyone involved knows they experienced something weird but have no answers.
The story is great and the animation that tells it is just beautiful still. It is a very detailed and involved world here. One of the great things about Japanese animation is how they can get into the minutia of the world and this is no different.
In the end Beyond is the equivalent of a haunted house story set in the Matrix. It’s an interesting tale.
A Detective Story
- Directed by Shin’ichirou Watanabe
- Ash-James Arnold Taylor
- Trinity-Carrie-Anne Moss
- Clarence-Terrence C. Carson
- Agent-Matt McKenzie
A down on his luck detective with dreams of being like Sam Spade or Philip Marlowe receives a mysterious phone call with a request to search for a hacker.
A detective noir story set in the Matrix? Why not? The style of the animation here helps to really sell it. They are going for the old-school detective noir feel and it is just perfect. The story has action and twists and turns that not only fit in with film noir but fit in with the Matrix.
And the ending at least to me has shades of Double Indemnity to it. The speech that Ash gave reminded me a bit of Fred McMurray’s at the end of that film. Whoever crafted this is most certainly a fan of the noir genre.
A Detective Story is a great addition to the Matrix mythology. It has tense dialogue and fantastic animation. Watch it!
- Directed by Peter Chung
- Alexa-Melinda Clarke
- Nonaka-Dwight Schultz
- Chyron-Rodney Saulsberry
- Raul-James Arnold Taylor
- Rox-Olivia D’Abo
- Sandro-Jack Fletcher
A group of human rebels lure hostile machines to their laboratory in order to insert them into their own Matrix in an effort to teach the machines the positive traits of humanity.
Matriculated is an interesting story though I cannot see the logic in trying to convert the machines. It seems like a very time-consuming effort. As is noted in the short, it would be easier to reprogram them.
Still though it is an interesting twist on the mythology. The characters do get into some interesting philosophical moments. The animation is not bad and the final moments of the film are a bit heartbreaking in my opinion.
Matriculated is a different take on how to fight the machines.
The Animatrix is some of the rare expanded universe type material that directly ties into the main film universe yet is not required viewing. It manages to maintain the feel of its source material and fit rather nicely in. The stories are as complicated as any Matrix film
You don’t necessarily need to watch any of this to understand the main films. It takes bits and pieces suggested in the films and builds upon them, but it doesn’t add in important plot elements that you need to have seen this to understand. The MCU could take a lesson here. Too often with MCU films you need to watch a particular TV show or another movie in order to fully understand whatever you’re watching at that moment. I cannot imagine most people have that kind of time or willingness.
While the animation still largely looks good what really sells this is a killer soundtrack. The music is just amazing. In full confession I have the CD and have listened to it quite often over the years. It is just beautiful.
The Animatrix is a great work. It is a near perfect expansion of The Matrix mythology. If you are planning on rewatching The Matrix films before the new one comes out I say take a look at this one as well. You don’t need to, but it will add another layer to your enjoyment.