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Armitage at the scene of a demonstration.

Armitage III

1. Electro Blood

[ production info ]

Copyright: © 1994 AIC, Pioneer LDC (North America and Japan)
Length: 50 minutes
Rating: NR, Graphic violence and nudity, Parental Guidance Suggested
Format: Subtitled (VHS)

Screenplay: Konaka Chiaki Director: Ochi Hiroyuki Animation Director: Abe Kunihiro Character Design: Ochi Hiroyuki Music: Namba Hiroyuki

[ plot summary ]

vhs jacket

After losing his partner in a devastating experience with a robot, Ross Sylibus leaves Chicago to join the Martian Police Department in St. Lowel City -- a city marred by very heavy anti-robot protests of the general public. But his arrival is marked by the brutal slaying of galactic country music superstar, Kelly McCanon. Ross is shocked to discover that popular country star was not human, but an ultra-sophisticated robot, called a 'Third'. But McCanon's death is merely the beginning -- one by one, Thirds are being hunted and destroyed... But Ross discovers that he has his hands full with another problem: His flashy new partner, Armitage -- Armitage the Third.

[ capsule review ]

I'm sure I'm not the first person to comment about this series' pedigree -- the influence of Philip K. Dick's now famous short story is unmistakeable. Androids that are virtually indistinguishable from humans invading our culture? Certainly, this idea breaks no new ground. What makes elevates this story above the rest is that the writers dared to go beyond the obvious, and introduce a few more realistic elements. What's so bad about robots become part of our culture? Nothing of course -- unless they start encroaching upon our own means to survive. Armitage III takes a very real concern we have in today's increasingly mechanised society, and extrapolates a potential future... One in which people not only have to compete with the assembly line, but also with the very services that we consider "humanistic." A society where robots can not only be personable sales representatives, but imaginative sex partners, and worse... creative artists. It's a fascinating premise that very few programs have explored seriously.

Had this series stopped there, things would have been just fine. But it seems that the writers wanted to borrow something from just about everywhere, and I found that the sheer familiarity of so many story elements detracted from an otherwise fine storyline... (You can't tell me that the writers didn't lift Ross' jogging scene from Rocky) The antagonist is once again portrayed as a very disturbed, psychotic killer -- but not a true killer in the human sense, since he's out killing 'Thirds.' (and as far as the MPD is concerned, that's not really murder, it's more like a grievous form of property damage.) Unfortunately, the character designers and screen writers decided to make D'anclaude a cross between Sting's Feyd in Dune and David Bowie's extraterrestrial vistor in The Man Who Fell to Earth. Had the similarities not have been so obvious, this show probably wouldn't have bothered me so much, but they virtually lifted all of character elements, from appearance to mannerisms... Inexplicably, I expected to see Arakkis in the background...

The rest of the characterisations are pretty typical: Ross Sylibus, the strong, silent type, and Armitage, a totally wild cop with a killer punk-rock outfit, shades and attitude to match. It comes as no surprise that Armitage is a 'third' as well (otherwise, there'd be no reason for the pun in the title, would there?) The overall acting talent is above average, though I thought Kasahara Hiroko's abilities were stretched pretty thin during the more emotional scenes. Set and vehicle designs are a bit outlandish and all too improbable. But the character designs are most notable; they're given a slightly softer touch which is a very refreshing change from the anime mainstream. Overall, this first episode has lots of material, but presents itself as a mixed bag.
- AN, 98.01.29

[ café rating ]

Original: Subbed: Dubbed:
Story: N/R 4 stars N/A
Direction: N/R 3 stars N/A
Acting: N/R 4 stars N/A
Animation: N/R 4 stars N/A
Music: N/R 3 stars N/A
Translation: N/A 4 stars N/A
Overall Rating: N/R 3 stars N/A

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