The year is 2046. Detective Ross Sylibus is transferred to Mars when a country singer on her 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.
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.
Okay, so let me get this straight...it's 1995. There's this anime about a hot, skimpily dressed cybernetic police officer with her large, strong as hell partner trying to stop a terrorist that's trying to shake the political scales of the world in the distant, but not too distant future? Oh, Ghost In The Shell, right? Well, you're half-right, but the anime I'm referring to is a 4 episode OVA called Armitage III...which in all actuality came out before Ghost In The Shell.
At any rate, the plot revolves around a former Chicago police officer named Ross Sylibus, who is transferring to a police department on a Martian colony after his partner on Earth was killed by a robot. However, it doesn't take long for Ross to get thrown into action as a country singer that was on the same flight to Mars as Ross is murdered. While in the baggage claim, Ross runs into the murderer and his new partner at the MPD, Naomi Armitage. When Naomi tries to stop the murderer, they discover he's transporting the body of the country singer in a suitcase. The murderer gets away, however, Ross and Naomi discover that the singer was in all actuality a robot that is labeled as a "Third," a model of robots that are illegally produced and indistinguishable from humans. Through an illegal broadcast, the MPD (Martian Police Department) discovers that the "murderer" is a man known as Rene D'anclaude and his objective is to kill all of the Thirds since they aren't real humans. It is up to Ross, Naomi, and the rest of the MPD to discover D'anclaude's plot and bring a stop to his reign of terror.
I can honestly say that the best part of this series was its plot. This plot was really interesting, especially if you love cyberpunk anime. This series seems to have a lot of sci-fi elements reminiscent of Phillip K. Dick's "We Can Remember It For You Wholesale" (which inspired Total Recall), Isaac Asimov's "Robot Series (inspired I, Robot)," and even a little bit of William Gibson's "Neuromancer." Getting back to the plot though, I can get invested in a good futuristic cyberpunk cop drama, and that's definitely what we have here with Armitage III. As I watched, I wanted to know more about this environment. This series throws at us a Martian colony, robots and cyborgs, and explosive action to go with its investigative mystery. The more I watched, the more I wanted to know about this environment and its characters.
On the whole, I was really intrigued about the characters. Of course, this series shows off its lead female the most. Naomi Armitage is...well...flashy to say the least. She's a cop with a feisty attitude and a rather unorthodox getup (which Ross comments on the first time they meet). However, underneath her rough and rigid personality is someone who is facing an emotional breakdown and suffering from an identity crisis due to her in all actuality being a Third. Ross on the other hand is a level-headed officer that tries to keep Naomi in line, but also deals with his own inner demons as he has a hatred for robots due to his dark past, but also has to come to terms with it when he realizes Naomi is a robot. (P.S. While I know this might rub off as spoilers, these events take place within the first half-hour). Even the antagonist, Rene D'anclaude was an intriguing character with a sadistic personality. It was interesting to see how his character unraveled...although the series still left us with a lot to be desired from all of these characters.
The best way I can describe the overall production from AIC was...well, good, but not great. The animation is solid, but not breathtaking...at least not in comparison to something like Ghost In The Shell that came out that same year. The seiyuu work I thought was actually pretty good. Yasunori Masutani (Guseong from Psycho-Pass) as Ross, Hiroko Kasahara (Magdalia from Rurouni Kenshin) as Naomi, and Ryusei Nakao (Freiza from Dragonball Z, Mayuri from Bleach) as Rene played their roles extremely well. I really bought into all of their characters. The support work was decent but nothing too memorable. I was actually pretty impressed with the music for this series even though I did feel the main theme did get a little repetitive (which I personally didn't mind since I kinda liked the song). However, the one thing I will say is it's a fairly "techy" soundtrack, so if you're looking for a more refined, artistic soundtrack like you would hear in Ghost In The Shell, you won't find it here.
Unfortunately, this OVA's biggest problem is it's way too condensed. This series has a massive plot and it has a fairly rushed feel to it. When the series was over, I wanted to know more about the setting. Why there is a Martian colony, what is the political scale of this colony in regards to Earth (which is looked at a bit in episode 4), what is the Earth's stance on robotics, etc. Those are just a few of the questions on my mind that lingered and I wanted to know a lot more about Ross and Naomi as well. They both had interesting back stories but neither was properly hashed out due to time restraints. This series would have worked so much better as a 12-13 episode series because it had a lot of ground to cover for a 4 episode OVA. Even Rene's character motivations seemed confusing because it didn't seem like they had enough time to touch upon it completely. Even when Asakura was introduced later in the series, I was still confused as to what the connections were between him, Rene, and Naomi. That's another one of my complaints. I hate saying this since it's usually an ugly label to give a series, this OVA had some plot holes and unexplained or unclear character motivations. This series takes a twist later on that I was baffled by because I couldn't figure out the complete reasoning behind it. By the time it was all said and done, I was wondering why this series took such a steep political twist and then didn't properly develop the reasoning for it. I wouldn't say it completely detracted from the viewing experience, but I couldn't help but ask these questions as the OVA came to a close.
All-in-all, Armitage III is a pretty fun viewing experience. I can't say I'm the biggest fan of the older, cell animated series out there but I still enjoyed Armitage quite a bit. While yes, the plot holes and unexplained character motivations bugged me a bit, I was still enthralled with it due to having a well-played pair of protagonists and a intriguing, sadistic antagonist with a mysterious motivation. I came for the plot and the characters made me stay. While I know this did get a summary movie as well as a sequel, this is one OVA series I'd really like to see turned into a full series because there is a lot of material here to work with that can be properly hashed out over 12-13 episodes. Still, if you're a fan of cyberpunk anime, especially something like Ghost In The Shell, this might be worth a watch. I wouldn't put this on the same artistic plane as GITS...not by a long shot. However, if you're looking for a few hours to kill, Armitage is certainly not a bad way to kill it.
Arimtage III is a truly great anime OVA. Sadly it came out about the same time as the original GHOST IN THE SHELL, and was overlooked for the overrated Ghost in the Shell movie. The story is far better, truly delving into whether machines are alive or not and could they be considered human, along with many other questions. Can they fall in love, or even have children. Then there are the two main characters, Naomi Armitage and Ross Sylibus. They add depth and bring life to the story. The action is great keeping you watching even in the quiet times of the anime. The animation isn't as great as it was after all it's been 13 years since it first came out, but it still holds up today. I would highly recommend this anime over any of the Ghost in the Shell anime.read more
The story is focused on two cops, Ross and Armitage as they try to discover the reason behind all the chaos. At times I was under the impression that it is maybe too much influenced by Hollywood movies such as Blade Runner or AI but in the end, the story is well constructed and presented through the 4 OVA's. This is well explained with the use of the great animations. This came out in 1995 and it looks amazing for its time. The high amount of details is very impressive and you can see another anime that influenced The Matrix with the now famous green data line flowing down the visor. The faces of the characters are a little sharp and maybe needed a little polishing but that's a minor detail. The sound was awesome. Industrial and some metal riffs fit any cyberpunk anime like a glove. As far as characters go, only Armitage is worth mentioning. Ross is ok to see as the tough (yet soft on the inside) cop but Armitage is the real star of the show. She's sexy, badass and an attitude that would even make Alucard shit his pants. You don't mess around with her.
In conclusion, Armitage III is awesome. Any SF/cyberpunk anime lover should see this. Great visuals, great OST and a memorable main character bring this anime a big well deserved 10. read more
In the early-mid 2000s, US licensing companies were involved in numerous anime Production Committees. It didn't go so well for them. This year, several US licensors are trying their luck on Production Committees again. Will it go better this time?