Old-school reality to make way for animation
(snipped for The Animatrix)
If you've read this column with any regularity, you've gathered that I love Japanese animation. I love all animated films for their vibrant look and limitless possibilities -- it just happens that I think the Japanese make better use of the medium. Prove me wrong, Disney. Prove me wrong.
Case in point: "The Animatrix." I don't mean to beat a dead horse (although can you really be sure it's dead if you don't try?) but the DVD came out on Tuesday and I've watched it every day since. The four previously unreleased shorts maintain the beauty and intellect of those already released online. Now together on one glorious disk in both English and Japanese Dolby 5.1, even the shorts you've already seen shine with new magnificence.
Aside from giving me more Matrix to compensate for my growing discontent with "Reloaded," "The Animatrix" is a beautiful exercise in art and storytelling. The questions left unanswered by the original Matrix film are used as creative springboards with the possibilities of a fantasy role-playing game and the popularity of Tom Hanks.
The Wachowski brothers used this medium to personally flesh out their story by writing the four shorts directly related to the films. Were you wondering who the hell that kid following Neo around like a puppy in "Reloaded" was? Wonder no more. Did you decide to stay away from "Dreamcatcher" (wise decision) at the expense of missing "Final Flight of the Osiris" even though it came up in "Reloaded"? Your patience has been rewarded.
The other five shorts are essentially candy, but See's wishes they could make candy this sweet. They illustrate experiences with the Matrix while still plugged in, ways people question the Matrix, the relationship between humans and machines and the trials of the "real" world. All of them will have you reeling and asking new questions of the Matrix universe.
Aside from compelling stories, some of which you will wish were feature length, the various styles of animation are a sampler plate of the most stunning visual directors around. Directors were involved in such hits as "Cowboy Bebop," "Aeon Flux," "Akira" and "Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust." That's like getting those artists named after the Ninja Turtles together to each do a Bugs Bunny cartoon.
I'll stop short of reviewing each piece, but there are some other animation-themed issues I want to discuss.