The Wachowski brothers, better known for The Matrix Series, while on a tour in Japan promoting one of their Matrix films, started pondering the idea of an anime series based on the idea behind the matrix. Ultimately, they decided that it would be more interesting and gripping if it were done in the form of a number of short films. Thus, Animatrix, the DVD, has a unique collection of 9 animated short films, created and directed by different directors.
The Animatrix series has a total of 7 directors and 5 writers. The episodes are:
The first 4 episodes were written by the Wachowski brothers themselves. The first episode, "Final Flight of the Osiris", was directed by Andy Jones. The only episode with complete computer generated animation, it fills in the gaps regarding the fate of the hovercraft Osiris, mentioned in the Matrix movies. Hence, this episode is more about the story, than a real anime. Fortunately, the Wachowski brothers correct this deviation in the following episodes, and leave the handling of their material in more capable hands.
The next 2 episodes, directed by Mahiro Maeda, features both hand-drawn animation and CGI. With an authentic Japanese anime director behind the wheel, "The Second Renaissance" episodes have a real feel of an anime, with dark foreboding imagery and the beginnings of a man-machine clash.
The fourth episode, directed by Shinichiro Watanabe, sticks to the standard anime formula of focusing on a prime character, rather than a story. This episode takes one further away from the Hollywood feel of The Matrix, and delves deeper into the character and the story of "The Kid". The eighth episode was also directed by Watanabe.
The fifth, sixth, seventh and ninth episodes are directed by Yoshiaki Kawajiri, Takeshi Koike, Koji Morimoto and Peter Chung.
The entire DVD is a treasure trove for true Matrix fans, with delightful tid-bits and sub-plots with Neo and Trinity in the thick of the action. Even though the stories and treatment are vastly differing, it still takes you deep into the Matrix. The fact that renowned anime directors and writers are employed gives each episode slick production values and snappy music.
Four of the episodes are available on the official website and the DVD contains additional freebies including a documentary on Japanese animation, interviews with the directors and behind-the-scenes footage.
Would you recommend the product? Yes
Price you paid? None indicated