Armitage III The Complete Saga DVD Review
Armitage III OVA and Armitage III: Poly-Matrix
Police officer Ross Sylibus arrives to his new post on the planet Mars and immediately begins to work on his first case. Mars is home to several types of humanized robots that have helped man in making the planet fit for life. Ross follows the tracks of a serial killer called Rene D’anclaude who has been killing robots called Thirds. Thirds are unregistered robots that look and act exactly as humans do. In fact it was D’anclaude who, in murdering one, discovered their existence to the world. Now D’ancluade systematically exposes the Thirds in an attempt to eliminate them all. Ross is aided by a fellow police officer named Naomi Armitage who is a capable officer and an attractive woman. However, Ross soon discovers that Armitage herself is a Third and will not stop until D’ancluade is killed. Ross should aid Armitage in her fight against the murderer. But can he cooperate with her and risk his life to save robots when it was also a robot that, in the past, killed his wife?
Armitage III is a four episode OVA created in 1995. The story is mostly shown from Ross’ eyes. Both Ross and Armitage are attractive and likable character. Armitage is a combat robot with super-human strength but Ross, with his giant stature and muscles, is no pushover either. Ross’ situation is a bit twisted because he needs help robots despite his dark history with them. But that is not the only twisted situation he is in. He finds himself attracted to Armitage – a robot herself. On top of that due to continuously sustaining injuries in his fight against D’anclaude he is forced to have cyborg-like implants that gradually transforms him into a being half human and half robot. All of those contradictions are cleverly implemented in the OVA and make Ross an even more interesting main character. Armitage doesn’t have any memories of her past so her quest is not only to stop the murderer but to also regain her memory. Her quest is not as interesting, mainly because her memories prove to be insignificant to the rest of the story. The chemistry between the two forms the backbone for the entire OVA. That said, most of the time they work alone and usually one of them is fighting while the other one is off to a different location or on his/her way to the scene. There’s also a coherent plot behind the killing of the Thirds but it is not sufficiently explained in the OVA. However, even without fully understanding the plot Armitage III is still a solid action mini-series.
The main characters and the plot aside, Armitage III is a mess. It looks terrible and suffers from every the visual atrocity known to man. Aliasing, green outlines around characters, snow, blurry images, white colors looking yellowish; You name it. Armitage III didn’t look that good when it came out in 1995. Now it is unbearably ugly. I find it hard to understand how FUNimation could muster the courage to release this OVA in its current state without doing something, anything, to address all the visual problems. Unfortunately the problems don’t end there. This OVA suffers from sub-par audio. On paper it comes in English Stereo and Japanese Stereo. In practice it sounds like some radio channel playing on a cheap transistor. An OVA that rises and falls on its presentation of action shouldn’t look and sound terrible. It all leaves you with a bitter aftertaste that stays with you through the rest of this compilation. In fact it rears its ugly head as soon as you pop the next DVD and begin watching Armitage III: Poly-Matrix. Armitage III: Poly-Matrix is not a real movie – it’s an edited version of the Armitage OVA shortened into a movie and released directly to VHS in 1997. It was a U.S. only release and as such the DVD comes with an English dub option only. As you might have guessed it inherited all the visual and audio problem of its processor. It even added one of its own. You see, the original OVA is in 4:3 ratio, but the Armitage III: Poly-Matrix movie plays at a 3:3 ration with black bars on both sides and on the top and bottom parts of the screen. With such limitations I don’t think anyone will choose this movie over the original OVA. It’s inclusion in this collection is only for completions sake and you’ll probably skip it and jump straight ahead to Armitage III: Dual-Matrix
Armitage III: Dual-Matrix
About six years after the conclusion of the Thirds murder case Ross and Armitage are now a married couple living in a small house together with their six years old daughter. One day a military squad rushes into a secret illegal facility meant to produce Thirds and massacres the entire crew of the facility, both human and robot. Alarmed by this sudden massacre Armitage decides to journey to planet Earth to find the one responsible. Meanwhile Ross is working as a guard in a terraforming plant. When a group of terrorists try to take out the plant Ross stops them and saves the day. He then becomes famous and is requested to represent Mars in an upcoming conference on Earth where it will be decided if robots should have human rights or not. As he arrives on Earth his daughter is kidnapped and in a twist of fate the kidnapper is also the man Armitage has been looking for. However this man turns out to be more than the two can handle and they find themselves on a deadly race to rescue their daughter and escape back to Mars.
Unlike the abovementioned Poly-Matrix Dual-Matrix is a real movie and the direct sequel to the Armitage III OVA. Dual-Matrix also doesn’t suffer from all the technical problems found in the OVA. This movie features some very ugly CG, but it is used sparingly and ugly CG were the norm in 2002. The rest of the visuals look good and thankfully the audio sounds normal. This movie has an aspect ratio of 4:3 and Japanese and English audio tracks, both of which are in 5.1 Dolby Surround. The English subtitles for Dual-Matrix, as well as the older OVA, are good and don’t contain many mistakes. The English dub for Dual-Matrix is good and the dub for the Armitage III OVA is arguably better than the Japanese one. However the dub for both titles tends to change the original dialog a little bit. The voice actors for the OVA are different from the ones in the movie. So bear these two things in mind if you decide to watch Armitage dubbed.
Armitage III: Dual-Matrix maintains the action approach of the former OVA and adds even more explosions and fights. From the moment the movie begins the events unfold like a snowball going downhill. The action never stops and the stakes keep rising. Eventually Ross and Armitage are so overwhelmed they turn from the hunter to the hunted. The plot is explained much better this time around, making it also easier to follow. However this movie relies on the events that occurred in the OVA so while it stands pretty well on its own most of the time some bits in the beginning and the end will mystify you if you’re not already familiar with Ross and Armitage’s past. Dual-Matrix feels more complete and more polished than the OVA, but is also more straightforward in its approach. The Dual-Matrix DVD contains the only extras or this title: a short documentary called Assembling Armitage, a music player (with only three songs to play from it) and your friendly neighborhood FUNimation Entertainment trailers. There are too little extras and they fail to be impressive, to say the least. In case you were wondering why the Armitage III Complete Saga box has the 16:9 label on it it’s because the trailers and main menus are presented in 16:9.
Armitage III The Complete Saga collects all there is to Armitage III in one attractive box. It has a sufficient (if a bit confusing at times) story and the main characters are capable people. Sadly the Armitage III OVA and Armitage III: Poly-Matrix suffer from some very unattractive visual and audio problems. When two thirds of a collection looks bad it’s hard to justify buying it. Moreover, while Armitage III offers just over three and a half hours of action-filled scenes it never does anything spectacular. The action isn’t good enough as to make me recommend watching Armitage III over other more accomplished action oriented anime series. If you’ve already watched Armitage III in the past and must have a complete collection of it than this bundle might suit you. But if you’ve never watched it and was thinking of picking up a good action series there are much better choices currently available on the market.
- None this time.
- The Armitage III OVA and Poly-Matrix both look and sound terrible.
- Poly-Matrix has an aspect ratio of 3:3.
- Dual-Matrix is filled with action but never manages to be more than mediocre.
- The DVDs are a repackage of the older Geneon release with no changes.
Final Score: 4/10 (Bad)
Product Information: Armitage III The Complete Saga. Published by FUNimation Entertainment. Release Date: July 24, 2012.
Review Equipment: an LG Electronics Japan HD LED passive 3D 27 inch PC monitor (D2770P-PN) connected to a PS3 using a ver. 1.4 HDMI cable.