Synopsis: The setting is Mars, it is sometime in the distant future. Technology has advanced so much that androids now serve human beings. Ross Sylibus is a detective from Earth. He is assigned to solve a series of brutal murders along with his headstrong partner, Martian police officer Naomi Armitage. A mad killer is dead set on destroying all the "Thirds". "Thirds" are androids so lifelike and advanced that they can pass for human. They feel, they think, and they can even reproduce! Eventually, it is discovered that several prominent people in society are actually "Thirds" and mass hysteria breaks out. But the biggest surprise for Ross is his partner -- Armitage the Third!
Review: First off, what I'm reviewing here is the original four-episode OAV, not the one-shot movie starring Kiefer Sutherland and Elizabeth Berkley.
When I first saw the cool MTV-like opening sequence, I was both impressed and intrigued. Armitage III is a fast-paced and violent anime which also packs a lot of emotional punch. Mature themes like prejudice (humans violently persecuting "Thirds" who haven't done anything wrong) and ethical issues (how far should technology go?) are prevalent. The main characters are very well-developed, so viewers can easily understand them and empathize with their plights. Most of the plot unfolds from Armitage's angst-ridden point of view, which is a stark contrast to Ross' cooler and more subdued approach. Ironically, you will find that she is the most human character of all. Ross and Armitage's fire-and-ice chemistry gradually evolves into an all-encompassing love as well.
The art and animation are colorful in style, yet darker undertones are felt throughout. Armitage's costumes look like they were inspired by a kinky lingerie catalogue... yeah, those leathery and strappy things! The English dubbing is excellent, and the ending is pretty conclusive so viewers won't be left hanging.
Overall, Armitage III is an excellent title -- a whole lot better than the crowned cyberpunk classic "Bubblegum Crisis".
Miscellanies: Armitage III is available in another version -- Armitage III Poly-Matrix, which is a compilation of all four OAV volumes in one animated feature. The Poly-Matrix version features the voices of Kiefer Sutherland and Elizabeth Berkely.