Dec 16, 2017
Gundroog (All reviews)
Armitage III is a good example of how important execution is now matter what concept you're working with. At the core this is a standard cyberpunk romp about the complex role of ever improving technology in human society, in this particular case it's about incredibly advanced androids that are not much different from humans in their make-up and functions. I don't think there's much wrong with the plot since story is not the highlight this time and more of a vehicle for stylized action that's occasionally mixed with some noir and drama.

Art\animation - I'm not quite sure who did the character designs for this show but sometimes it felt like it was done by two different people. The show is not entirely consistent with its style so some main characters fit this archetype of 90s fashion with sci-fi elements, particularly strong on the titular Armitage but a lot of side characters kind of dress like normal people. Same with world design, even though there's a lot of future elements like floating city blocks, abundance of neon signs and such there are also pretty normal looking bars and offices so I'm not sure if there was one clear vision of what the world of Armitage should look like. If there was a clear distinction between what's futuristic and advanced and what's old and decrepit then it would contribute something to world building and atmosphere but as is it just feels like another part of the show that creators didn't much care about. Also even though Armitage looks solid for overwhelming majority of the run it also has some moments where characters looks so out of proportions that it hurts to look at.
As far as animation goes it's about as good as you'd expect from a 90s OVA, lots of detail, pretty fluid too but it lacks flare and style to be really memorable. So, it's not exactly bad but without proper direction it won't be impressing anyone. To be a single action scene from Mezzo DSA overshadows all the "sakuga" moments in Armitage because of this.

Direction - this is where I want to kind of continue talking about the art while also bringing up music and some of the story though this will be spoiler free.
The direction is probably the biggest flaw in this OVA, as I mentioned in the beginning, I don't think there's much in terms of plot that keeps this from being an entertaining sci-fi action OVA but all of the potential is squandered thanks to bad direction. First of all the pacing is too slow, even action scenes feel dull when the director and editor don't care to depict urgency, intensity or danger involved. It's horribly mundane and unexciting and music is only making it worse. While on its own it's not necessarily bad, when paired with scenes where it's used I felt like someone just looked at the scenes and thought it's getting too quiet so they just randomly slapped the first bleep bloop track they could find. It doesn't fit the mood or action so what's the point? My next issue with direction is editing, I started paying more attention to it towards the end where the flaws became too bad to go on unnoticed and sometimes the choices made were flat out baffling. Like in episode 3 I think there's a relatively important action scene with higher stakes than most other fights prior but we cut away from it to boring investigation work, just why? Other time the faults were less egregious but there's still plenty of amateurish cuts that disrupt the flow of action as well as spacial continuity. The last complaint is that it's just not interesting to look at. There are too many shots with boring framing that give you nothing to look yet they linger on as if you're shown something important. One shot stood especially stood to me when it was like a 2 or 3 seconds long still shot of an almost completely brown back alley with 5 inches of some neon sign in the upper left corner. That scene was so dead and boring that it took me out of the show. It might sound like a nitpicks but I'm only mentioning it cause it's bad and it's common so stuff like that builds up.

Writing - no surprises here cause pretty much all you need to know how this is gonna go is in the synopsis already. The show doesn't get too deep and it's better for it cause otherwise they'd be encroaching on the territory that's already been covered by far better written sci-fi classics like Blade Runner and Ghost in the Shell. The script is kind of cheesy and very much in your face at times but I don't think the show pretended to be more than it is and wrapped it all up in the end, can't say it was entirely satisfying but when you got a show that can't offer and interesting story, doing as little to create more problems is fine.

Fun factor - this is the part where I'm supposed to justify why I still gave it a 5 cause so far it seems like a bunch of negatives and not really anything to justify it. No matter how underwhelming the execution is I think it still works as a cheese little sci-fi romp that can be a fine casual watch. It's not good but it's not offensively bad either so if it peaked your interest in one way or another it's worth to have a go at it.