In the wake of the 90s cyberpunk wave, which include the likes of Ghost in the Shell and Battle Angel Alita, there came about a 4-part OVA titled Armitage III. Directed by Takuya Sato, who later went on to direct The Twelve Kingdoms, Armitage III spawned an English movie compilation, Polymatrix, as well as a 2002 sequel movie Dual-Matrix.
Armitage III takes place in the year 2046, an age that saw the terra-formation of Mars and the creation of living cyborgs. The story mixes cyberpunk, science fiction, and political intrigue on top of a police drama. The main conflict is the increase in android population which the humans see as a threat. The story follows Detective Sylibus and Naomi Armitage, two partners who while investigating an android murder case, stumble upon a conspiracy that could threaten their lives.
The movie is very character oriented. Naomi Armitage, a 90s Deunan Kneute in some respects, is a special type of android known as the “third type.” Detective Sylibus is the strong-armed cop with a past. While the characters are decently designed and well fleshed, it leaves little time to expand on the actual premise which is definitely a stronger selling point for Armitage III. Aside from a strong main duo, the rest of the cast is very weak. Humanity as a whole is depicted in a rather crude manner. There is no subtlety in Armitage III which is unfortunate; instead of a movie that deals with its proposed problems in a mature manner, humans are largely portrayed as bigots who despise androids for shoddy reasons.
Armitage III exhibits about as many flaws as there are virtues. The creators missed a golden opportunity to create a masterpiece. Coupled with the release of Mamoru Oshii’s first Ghost in the Shell movie that same year, Armitage III was completely left behind in its trail and rightfully so. Whereas Ghost in the Shell is a stunningly realistic story that meshes politics and androids, Armitage III begins to lose its focus half-way through and completely forgoes its constructed premise in favor of the slipshod Chobits-eque “power of love” ending.
Final Thoughts: 5/10
Despite a great set-up and captivating setting, the movie falls in its execution. The story is plagued by an eye-rolling script and terrible voice acting. A mediocre film by todays standards, Armitage III however is a great indication of the wave of creativity that swept the 90s. A decent source of entertainment on a bored afternoon.