When Funimation first announced their Anime Classics line, I wondered if they were only going to use it as another label for cheap anime for consumers or acquire older titles and place them on it. For awhile its been a haven for hits like Bones’ Darker then Black, Bee Train’s Noir and Gonzo’s Last Exile, which in my mind are phenomenal shows that will definitely become classics, but aren’t quite there yet. Now, Funimation has now fully brought about their first true classic in this line and is something that most fans nowadays have probably never heard of, but I can remember Armitage the Third easily as one of the bigger science fiction properties ever released here and is indeed a true anime classic that deserves to be seen by a whole new audience.
Anime in the late 80’s and early 90’s was rife with shows, OVA’s and feature films that was full on sci-fi and cyberpunk. Armitage the Third is a prime example of these influences in full force, with its production being handled by AIC, who also helmed two other cyberpunk classics in anime, Bubblegum Crisis and Megazone 23. In the OVA and the compilation feature film, Armitage The Third: Polymatirx the story focuses on a Mars colony, that has been created with the help of androids, in the year 2046. We follow Ross Syllibus, a Chicago detective that has been transferred to Mars, after going through some tragic accident involving a second generation android. Once he arrives, Syllibus is partnered up with Naomi Armitage, a rebel cop that plays by her own rules and wears an alluring get-up that is sure to turn heads. They manage to come across a major conspiracy, revealing that there are an advanced form of androids that have been hiding amongst the human population and an insane mass murderer that takes it upon his own hands to destroy these humanoid robots. The concepts and plot elements in Armitage have been seen time and time again in plenty of forms of sci-fi over the years that geeks have been used to, but with this OVA and sequel film, the aesthetic and action elements is something that is missing in current anime and solidifies Armitage the Third as an anime classic.
The series borrows from Blade Runner heavily, in terms of the look of the mars colony and its own version of the Replicant androids. The character designs from Hiroyuki Ochi do a fantastic job at portraying a perfect distillation of everything cyberpunk, especially with the heroine Naomi Armitage. The OVA of Armitage is much longer with more plot elements and action scenes, compared to Polymatrix. The compilation film is only 90 minutes, but retains many of the important aspects of the series, that it is able to still get a lot across, while omitting 50 minutes of the original. The Polymatrix dub has an all star cast as some of the lead characters which include Saved by the Bell’s Elizabeth Berkley, 24’s Keifer Sutherland and Breaking Bad’s Bryan Cranston, that do a pretty good. The only reason why I haven’t described much of the sequel, Armitage the Third: Duel-Matrix is because it carries over the story and I’d hate to be the one to ruin a fantastic anime that is time well spent.
Again, Funimation has compiled everything that is Armitage the Third into this set, which makes a hell of a lot of content for very little money. As a fan of classic anime, cyberpunk and all things science fiction, I wholeheartedly recommend this set as a perfect entry to see what Japan was making at this time as well as what made anime a cult form of media consumption in America. Highly Recommended!