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  • Full Frame
  • Dual Layer ( )
  • English: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
  • Japanese: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
  • 3 Theatrical trailer
  • Featurette - Assembling Armitage
  • Photo gallery - Character and Mechanical Designs
  • Animated menus

Armitage Dual Matrix

Madman Entertainment/AV Channel . R4 . COLOR . 90 mins . M15+ . PAL


Five years or so after the release of the first instalment of the Armitage saga Polymatrix, its action-packed sequel has finally been released to western audiences. And with Juliette Lewis bagging an above-the-title credit for her voice work, this second installment, dubbed Dual-Matrix, has certainly garnered some interest in the anime community.

The end of Polymatrix saw android super-cop Naomi Armitage fall in love with her human partner Ross Syllabus (sic). Taking on new identities, Naomi and Ross (aka Kevin) now live a relatively normal life on Mars, with their young daughter Yoko. ‘A daughter’ you say? ‘But isn’t Armitage a ..’. Yes. Naomi Armitage is a robot – the last survivor of the third generation cyborgs or ‘Thirds’; the first form of artificial life with the ability to conceive children! Dogged by controversy, the Thirds were hailed as both the final stage of android evolution, or the last straw in the increasing dominance of robots over humankind, and the manufacture of Thirds was suspended amid growing protest. An now with its population failing to meet its developmental needs, despite growing public unrest the Martian authorities have started to manufacture Thirds again.

When a Thirds factory is attacked and the entire production line of newly created robots is destroyed, Naomi telepathically receives their dying thoughts. And boy is she pissed! Donning her old working clothes - skimpy shorts, suspender belt, stockings and some flimsy bra-thing – she heads down to earth to mutilate the perpetrators. Soon we learn that the attack was masterminded by the villain of the piece – a powerful arms manufacturer known only as ‘Demetrio’ – who is looking to learn the Third’s secret of reproduction. This is something the audience is wondering pretty hard about as well, and soon Naomi is up to her armpits in minions trying to rip off her head.

At the same time, unbeknownst to Naomi, Ross reluctantly agrees to travel to Earth as the Martian representative to the upcoming summit on Robot rights. A vote to establish a bill of robot rights will see the Martian plans for population expansion legitimised. But with Ross and Yoko down on Earth, Demetrio may have finally found the lever he needs to overpower the feisty Naomi...

Now I must confess that I haven’t seen Polymatrix and therefore my impressions of Dual-Matrix are likely to be swayed by this. Certainly while I watched this installment I found my knowledge of the character’s back-story more than a little wanting, with the actions of the key characters seemingly poorly motivated. In light of the previous installment, for Naomi and Ross (the only two characters to carry over) this can be forgiven. But for the other key characters, well, that’s another story completely.

OK, so maybe it’s the missing back-story, but right from the beginning, Dual-Matrix seems to exhibit chronic sequel-itis. Right from the off, huge plot holes start opening up and the whole thing feels like it’s just been thrown together. Well, call me shallow, but Dual-Matrix is still damn entertaining. And the sole reason for this is its kick-ass lead character. Reminiscent of all the other one-woman cyborg killing machines that crop up in anime ad-nauseum (you’d be surprised how often), Naomi Armitage is a mixture between the cute little killer Battle Angel Alita and Ghost in the Shell’s Major Kusinagi, and there's something fundamentally entertaining about chicks with big attitudes and even bigger ordinance blowing the hell out of everyone. Hey, millions of Matrix fans can't be wrong :).

And despite the plot holes, the production does try to address some of those ubiquitous philosophic questions that crop up in sci-fi; the definition of life, where the boundary of humanity lies, and so on. Also explored is mankind’s discomfort at the growing integration of robots into society despite their growing dependence on them. But the soul of the production is really the duality of Naomi’s existence. Now living a human life with a husband and a young daughter, she and her family must come to terms with the fact that underneath she’s still an android; a fact of which her young daughter is still blissfully ignorant.


In terms of the quality of its animation, Armitage Dual-Matrix is quite a mixed bag; at times beautiful to watch, while at others it’s a case of the Saturday morning nasties. Particularly good are the bone-crunching, hand-to-hand combat sequences that have petite little Armitage dealing out death with a fluid, skillfully animated precision. Impressive too is the use of CGI to render many of the vehicles and some of the film’s key locations. In particular, the fully-3D car chase scenes look amazing, as do the moving platforms on which the film’s action-packed finale is staged. It is during this finale that the animation really hits high gear, with some beautifully choreographed action. In terms of nasties, the typical television cost-cutting techniques (predominantly panning stills) are certainly in evidence, and the detail level in the background images is below average; the producers taking advantage of the predominantly night-time locations. In terms of character designs, realism is the order of the day for the human cast, while more classic anime stylings (big eyes etc) are reserved for artificial humans such as Armitage. I must say, the contrast works very nicely indeed.

When it comes to anime in our region, Madman is king; a reputation that is hard won and well deserved. And while their presentation of Dual-Matrix is not their best digital transfer, the full-frame (obviously non-anamorphic) image they have provided is still very close to perfect. Even with its rather subdued palette, the transfer provides solid colour without bleeding or chroma noise, and blacks are solid and clean. In general the image is nice and sharp (although there are a few occasions in which the image has been intentionally softened) and although the source material is nice and clean, the image does display the slightest bit of grain. In addition to the grain, the transfer itself has added a small amount of posterisation and macro-blocking to the backgrounds of the more darker shots, but you’ll have to look fairly closely to catch them. All in all, despite the small problems this is another great job from Madman and I still marvel at our luck to have such a dedicated anime distributor operating locally.


Like many others, I am one of these purist (read 'wanker') anime fans that only wants to watch anime in its original Japanese; shunning even the hint of an English dub. And yet, drawn by the thought of that enigmatic siren Ms Juliette Lewis voicing an animated killing machine, I found myself sitting down to watch the dubbed version of Dual-Matrix without hesitation. I was rewarded with a great performance from the diminutive Lewis, whose effort imbues the character of Armitage with a real emotional depth, while at the same time adding a razor sharp edge to her dark side; those action one-liners have never come better. Disappointingly, yet all-too typically, the rest of the English voice cast is pretty forgettable. One exception, (for the worse not the better), is the use of that annoying bastard Ahmed Best - whom you may remember as that poisonous dipshit Jar-Jar Binks from Episode One - in one of the key supporting roles. Pioneer almost ruin their good work casting Juliette in one foul swoop – and it probably cost them a bundle as well. This aside, the English language aspects of the disc are pretty solid; a comparison of the English dub and subtitles revealing no significant deviation from the Japanese script.

In terms of the transfer itself, the news is certainly all good, with both the English and Japanese audio tracks providing well constructed Dolby Digital 5.1 mixes. Whilst the dialogue remains clear and distinct from the centre channel, the other channels are kept very busy with wonderful channel separation and a plethora of directional effects; the crack of gunfire emanating continuously from all directions, and cars screaming across and around the room. The ambient sounds of a futuristic Chicago are also well-reproduced, filling out the soundstage nicely. The subwoofer is kept very busy, with lots of wonderful explosions and heavy ordinance to satisfy even the biggest of action junkies. Also of note is Julian Mack’s hard rockin’ soundtrack which, we learn from the featurette, was not only mixed but composed for the 5.1 environment. There’s no doubt that it forms the basis for an immersive soundstage, and there’s nothing like the scream of overdriven guitars to accompany a little of the old ultraviolence.


Animated menus provide access to a small number of extras that include a rare making-of featurette and the usual collection of Madman offerings.

  • Featurette: Assembling Armitage (16mins 43sec) Director Katsuhito Akiyama takes us through the process of producing an animated film, in fact this animated film; from story-boarding through development of the score, voice recording, CGI development and integration and so on. There are many snippets of the original animated storyboards, as well as in-studio interviews with Juliette Lewis and composer Julian Mack, all interspersed with clips from the English version of the film. A great companion to the feature.

  • Character Design Gallery: 30 images of all the main characters in their various costumes. These are the final product mind you, not the normal conceptual sketches (which I tend to prefer).

  • Mechanical Design Gallery: 24 images showing the concepts for the multitude of vehicles, gadgets and weapons that appear in the film.

  • Trailer: Yawn. It’s full frame, and well, it’s an introduction to Armitage Dual-Matrix don’t you know...

  • Madman Propaganda: Trailers for two other Madman region 4 releases, the brilliant Boogiepop Phantom and Cowboy Bebop.


Unfortunately I’m not in a position to compare Armitage Dual-Matrix against its predecessor, but despite appearing to be a rather cobbled-together sequel, I certainly enjoyed this action packed release. When you watch a film like this, it’s possible that you’re looking for layers of subtext, for a philosophical message, for anything other than a scantily-clad, well-endowed gal beating the living piss out of everything and everyone. Me, well, I’m looking for the latter, and Dual Matrix certainly delivers. And with the original installment Polymatrix soon to be released by Madman, we’ll finally be able to view it in its proper context. Although without Ms Lewis I’ll wager it just won’t be the same...

  • LINK: http://www.dvd.net.au/review.cgi?review_id=1703
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      And I quote...
    "You've got to ask yourself, 'Am I looking for layers of subtext, a philosophical message, or a scantily-clad, well-endowed gal beating the living piss out of everyone?'."
    - Gavin Turner
      Review Equipment
    • DVD Player:
          Toshiba SD-2108
    • TV:
          Panasonic TC-68P90A TAU (80cm)
    • Receiver:
          Yamaha RX-V795
    • Amplifier:
          Yamaha RX-V795
    • Speakers:
          B&W 602
    • Centre Speaker:
          B&W CC6 S2
    • Surrounds:
          JM Lab Cobalt SR20
    • Subwoofer:
          B&W ASW-500
    • Audio Cables:
          Standard Optical
    • Video Cables:
          Standard Component RCA
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