The Matrix Redux

Back to Contents of Issue: May 2003

Japanese anime inspired the 1999 blockbuster, "The Matrix." Now, a series of animated films will complete the story of the first film and provide a link to its forthcoming sequel.

by Tomiko Saeki

IT'S NO SECRET THAT Andy and Larry Wachowski, the creators of the blockbuster movie "The Matrix," starring Keanu Reeves, are Japanese anime fans. So it should come as no surprise that "Matrix Reloaded," the much awaited sequel to the movie, will be released following the launch of an anime-version -- appropriately called "Animatrix" -- that taps into some of Japan's leading anime talents.

What's unique about this marketing scheme is that "Animatrix" tells the story that exists between "The Matrix" and the upcoming sequel. There are supposed to be clues hidden within "Animatrix" that help viewers understand what the world according to "The Matrix" is all about. Or, in the words of the PR people pumping the media for some extra buzz before Keanu returns to the screen, you have to see "Animatrix" in order to get the series of "The Matrix." Sound confusing? There's more.

"Animatrix" is actually a compilation of nine short films, all written and directed by different animators: five from Japan and one each from the US and South Korea. The Wachowski brothers were responsible for keeping "The Matrix" theme consistent throughout. And Keanu Reeves and Carrie Ann Moss, the two main actors starring in the movie, actually did the voiceovers in a couple of the episodes.

However, the individual animators are said to have had creative freedom in producing their works. As a result, each episode has a different look on screen.

There are clues hidden in "Animatrix"
that help viewers understand what
"The Matrix" is all about

One of the names in the credits is that of veteran Japanese animator Yoshiaki Kawajiri, who wrote and directed an episode called "Program."

He shares credits with Takeshi Koike on another episode, "World Record." Andy Jones, best known for his work on the computer graphics tale, "Final Fantasy," and his role as animation supervisor for the Hollywood blockbuster, "Titanic," directed the "Final Flight of the Osiris" episode, which was written by the Wachowski brothers. And Seoul-based Korean animator, Peter Chung , whose credits include "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles," "Rugrats," and commercials for Nike Air, Diet Pepsi and AT&T, wrote and directed the segment entitled, "Matriculated."

Warner Pictures will not disclose details regarding the terms of contracts signed between the animators and the creators of the "Matrix" series.

"Animatrix" will be released May 24 for a limited time only at the Roppongi Hills theater, officially opened on April 25. Warner Home Videos will release it on DVD June 3, prior to the worldwide release of "Matrix Reloaded", in theaters on June 7.

Meanwhile, the final movie to conclude the "Matrix" trilogy -- called "Matrix Revolutions" -- is hitting screens worldwide on November 22, 2003. And one of the nine episodes of "Animatrix" is supposed to help viewers understand the concluding story -- or not.

Whoever said "The Matrix" was easy to understand? The secret behind marketing movies is to make you go back and see them again, and again, and again. @

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