The Animatrix also came out in 2003, in between The Matrix Reloaded and The Matrix Revolutions. The Wachowskis drew heavy inspiration from anime works when making The Matrix series. That’s how they were able to make The Animatrix in Japan. By partnering with several distinctive anime studios. The Animatrix is a direct-to-video anthology film that tells 9 different stories centering on the Matrix. Stories that I can only talk about separately.
“Final Flight of the Osiris” – The first short is a direct prequel to The Matrix Reloaded focusing on resistance fighters. It’s the only short done in a computer animated video game style. This short starts with a hot and steamy sword fight and ends with a devastating sentinel attack on Zion. It’s the most unique short and it sets the tone for the rest of the movie.
“The Second Renaissance Part I” – The second short is done in a simple anime style. It explores all the events that lead up to the eventual creation of the Matrix. This short explains that machines were workers and servants that became self aware. So they fought for their rights, but faced oppression from humans. So they formed their own city in order to live in peace.
“The Second Renaissance Part II” – The third short continues the previous story. By depicting the war between man and machine. As well as how humans scorched the sky and were eventually converted into living batteries for the Matrix. These two shorts are very fascinating. They’re probably the best explanation for how everything in the series came to pass.
“Kid Story” – The fourth short follows the kid from The Matrix Reloaded who was obsessed with Neo. It uses a sketchy anime style. This short is all about how someone is extracted from the Matrix. Feeling like you’re in a dream, receiving phone calls, and being pursued by agents. It gives much needed insight into the seemingly out of place kid character.
“Program” – The fifth short is easily the most anime inspired. With a colorful anime style. It features a warrior woman fighting a samurai in feudal Japan. Without context you wouldn’t know it was related to the Matrix. It’s actually set in a training program. Where it deals with the question of whether they should have taken the blue pill instead of the red pill.
“World Record” – The sixth short has the most bizarre anime style. Anime characters have jerky movements and a tall structure. This short explains how people in the Matrix discover the truth about their existence. By using a track runner who reaches almost superhuman speed through the Matrix. This short is weird to look at, but it gives good psychological insight.
“Beyond” – The seventh short centers on a haunted house. The anime style is mostly simplistic. A girl looks for her cat and ends up coming across the aforementioned house along with a group of kids. The house can make things levitate in an otherworldly way. I realized it had to be a glitch in the Matrix. Which brings up a new set of questions for how well designed is the Matrix really.
“A Detective Story” – The eighth short is a hard boiled detective story. So it’s done with a black & white noir anime style. A detective is tasked by agents, to track down Trinity, and bring her to them. So he uses his detective skills to find her by following a metaphorical white rabbit of clues. This short could very much work on its own, because it captures the noir style perfectly.
“Matriculated” – The ninth and final short is done in an Æon Flux inspired anime style. It starts in the real world and ends with a machine being reprogrammed by survivors. They enter its mind and try to convince it to side with them. This short has the most trippy visuals and psychedelic colors. It’s also the short that best sums up the movies man and machine theme.
In conclusion, The Animatrix is a surprisingly good anime inspired film. Some of there anime styles are a bit bizarre for my taste, but they don’t go on for too long. Each segment lasts for about 5 to 9 minutes. While the second and third film may leave a lot to be desired, The Animatrix manages to maintain what made The Matrix so good in the first place. By sticking to simple themes and characters that we actually care about.