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Armitage III

Armitage III

Released Year : February 25, 1995 to November 25, 1995

No of Episodes : 4

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Genre : Action,Adventure,Mecha,Police,Romance,Sci-Fi

Plot : The year is 2046. Detective Ross Sylibus is transferred to Mars when a country singer on his flight is murdered. Making matters more complicated is that the singer is a "Third"—a robot that looks and feels like a human. Sylibus is partnered with Armitage—a beautiful female cop with a bad attitude. As they investigate the murder of the singer and other women on Mars, they uncover a conspiracy that can have them both killed by the Martian government. (Source: ANN)

Our Review : I will admit that I'm a fan of cyberpunk in its many forms, from novels by the likes of William Gibson and Iain Banks to movies like Blade Runner and Mad Max. As a child of the 80s, these were mainstays in my entertainment repertoire. By the time Armitage III was released in February 1995, I had already been exposed to titles such as Appleseed, Battle Angel Alita, Cyber City Oedo 808, Genocyber, AD Police Files, and those classics Akira and the Bubblegum series.

Now, given the time of it's release, much of the hype of that moment centred around the forthcoming Ghost in the Shell, set to be released later that year. Because of this, Armitage III has been somewhat left by the wayside when it comes to mid 90s anime, especially given the huge marketing campaign devoted to GitS. This irony is that of the two major cyberpunk releases of 1995, Armitage III just pips GitS as being the best of that year.

The story is set in the year 2046 in the city of Saint Lowell, on the planet Mars. Earth has become overpopulated, and Mars has subsequently been terraformed to deal with this issue. Humanity was aided in the terraforming process by the first generation of androids, and by the time of the story the second generation of androids had become widely used for service and pleasure purposes. Unfortunately, Mars has been suffering from declining birthrates, and whilst the planet is autonmous from Earth, this fact is one of the main drivers for the story.

The plot is well thought out on the whole (barring a few inconsistencies), and the pacing is very good. There is a nice mixture of action and intrigue, as well as a dollop of political machinations (nowhere near as much as GitS though). The story does suffer from its flaws, however the premise is one that is just as plausible as GitS and, given the advances in medical science since 1995, may prove far more "real". The biggest irony is that both Armitage III and GitS ask the question "What is life?", but approach the answer from different angles.

The animation is very well done on the whole. AIC, who are also responsible for AD Police Files, Bubblegum Crisis and Now & Then, Here & There, have done a great job animating the show, however there are some moments when the animation loses its polish. The backgrounds are nicely drawn and are generally atmospheric, but they lack the detail that is one of the hallmarks of GitS.

One of my biggest problems with this series was the design of Naomi Armitage. The other characters were quite well done on the whole, however I initially had difficulty taking the show seriously given that her outfit seems more appropriate for a dominatrix than a police officer. It may be that the designers wanted to emphasise that Naomi is different from other humans by garbing her in very little, however they seem to have forgotten about the utility of clothing in their approach.

The sound is generally very good throught the OVA. The music is very much of the time, so lots of beats are prevalent in many of the actions scenes. The sound effects are well handled on the whole, however there are moments when the sound and music can clash quite badly.

As far as characters go, Ross Syllabus is very much a stereotype - an honorable and decent man who unfortunately hates robots and androids (although he has his reasons for this, and the series tries to explain them to a degree).

Naomi Armitage, on the other hand, is very much a tomboy. Brash, cocky, somewhat arrogant, and very often wilful, she seems to be just another normal, albeit unusually dressed, human being. It's not until the last two episodes that we begin to see more of her true character, however this is still not enough to ensure that the audience can relate to, or sympathise, with her.

Aside from these two, there are sundry other characters who play their part in the OVA, the chief one being René D'anclaude - a man who has been targetting and murdering specific women on MARS.

Although I had some difficulty at first, I thoroughly enjoyed this series and it's sequels. The balanced mixture of action and drama could have been improved, as could the characters, however that would have needed at least 12 episodes to achieve.

There's a definite appeal to the show because of its scripting and unusual (for anime that is), premise. As it's only a four part OVA, there isn't really any time for any real development ofthe characters or the plot, however this is purely a perceptional issue, and one that I can ignore in favour of being entertained.

With inspiration drawn from many sources, like I, Robot by Isaac Asimov and Neuromancer by William Gibson, this OVA is one of the reasons why GitS became so popular here in west. Even by todays standards the story holds up well, whilst much of the artworks bright and cheery palette belies the story's much darker plot.

Who says cyberpunk is dead?

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