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Barnes & NobleAndy and Larry Wachowski's mind-bending science fiction noir gets animated in The Animatrix, a collection of nine Matrix-related anime shorts. Released in anticipation of the live-action sequels The Matrix Reloaded and The Matrix Revolutions, none of these self-contained stories are mere cartoons. Some of the finest animation talents from both the U.S. and Japan display their talents here, making for a distinct variety of visual styles. Still, expect the same thrilling excitement we've come to associate with the Matrix franchise -- and from anime in general. The nine films are as follows:
- "Final Flight of the Osiris" -- In this 3-D computer-animated piece, the crew of the hovercraft Osiris must get a message of vital importance back to Zion. That would seem easy to do, but there's an armada of Sentinels standing in the way. Andy Jones, an animation director on Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within directs the Wachowski brothers' script.
- "The Second Renaissance" Parts I and II -- The genesis of the Matrix: The last cities of mankind, the war with the machines, and humanity's ultimate downfall. It's an epic guided tour of the Zion archives and Matrix lore. Blue Submarine No. 6's Mahiro Maeda directs another Wachowski script.
- "Kid's Story" -- Sitting in his high school classroom, a kid gets a personalized invitation from Neo to escape the Matrix. But finding an exit proves more difficult than he ever imagined. Shinichiro Watanabe Cowboy Bebop directs the Wachowskis' final script of the series.
- "Program" -- In the simulated world of a samurai training program, a soldier of Zion is forced to choose between love and her comrades in the real world. Written and directed by Ninja Scroll's Yoshiaki Kawajiri.
- "World Record" -- Through an incredible combination of will power and physical strength, a world record-holding sprinter breaks out of the Matrix and gets an all-too-brief glimpse of the real world beyond. Takeshi Koike Party 7 directs a script by Yoshiaki Kawajiri.
- "Beyond" -- In a quiet town where all is not as it seems, a girl finds a bug in the system: an abandoned mansion in which anything seems possible. Then the exterminators arrive to "de-bug." Written and directed by Koji Morimoto Akira.
- "A Detective Story" -- A hard-boiled private investigator tracks cyber-criminal Trinity through the "looking glass." Written and directed by Shinichiro Watanabe.
- "Matriculated" -- A group of rebels capture a sentient robot and program it to act as an ally for their cause and prefer their "human Matrix" to machine reality. They succeed too well; the robot's appetite for the "human Matrix" may exceed the humans' ability to supply it. Written and directed by Peter Chung Aeon Flux.