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Armitage III

Entry updated 3 May 2021. Tagged: TV.

Japanese animated tv series (1995). Original title Amitēji Za Sādo. Written by Akinori Endo and Chiaki Konaka. Directed by Hiroyuki Ochi. Voice cast includes Hiroko Kasahara, Yasunori Masutani and Ryûsei Nakao. Four episodes of 30-50 minutes. Colour.

In 2046, policeman Ross Syllabus (Masutani) is transferred from Earth to the Mars City of Saint Lowell. He is teamed up with Naomi Armitage (Kasahara), whose rebellious attitude is, naturally, reflected in her scanty attire (see Fan Service). They investigate a series of murders (see Crime and Punishment) of women in the city: the victims are revealed to be Robots – "Thirds", who are indistinguishable from humans; indeed, Armitage herself is a Third. The revelation that robots are passing as human leads to riots, with robots burnt on pyres. Syllabus and Armitage succeed in capturing the murderer: René D'anclaude (Nakao), a robot assassin, but discover other versions of him are still at large.

The Martian population is mainly male – a feminist Earth government (see Feminism) having led to a gender imbalance in Martian emigration (see Colonization of Other Worlds) – resulting in a low birthrate, so the Thirds were designed with the ability to give birth. Syllabus and Armitage discover that when Earth learnt of this they pressured the Martian government into killing the Thirds. The pair manage to escape back to Earth and a few months later Armitage announces she is pregnant by Syllabus.

The story wishes to portray Earth as female-dominated and Mars as male-dominated (as Syllabus' boss remarks, "robots on Mars don't quite reflect a feminist society", here referring to "Seconds" who are essentially female sexbots). But, though there is a fairly universal antipathy towards robots and Thirds are suspected of being an attempt to replace women, having feminists demand the genocide of sentient female robots is, at best, unbecoming, if not downright crass: it undermine the serious points Armitage III wishes to make concerning Identity, consciousness and, particularly, sexual politics (see Sex).

Owing to budgetary limitations the animation is often stilted, though the backgrounds are good; the English dub is largely unexceptional. Influenced by Blade Runner (1982), Isaac Asimov's The Caves of Steel (October-December 1953 Galaxy; 1954) and Cyberpunk, Armitage III has many virtues, including its worldbuilding. However, besides the flaws mentioned above, some of the plotlines are underdeveloped: more about the minds of the murdered Thirds being Uploaded, the suspended Terraforming of Mars and plans to create "Fourths" would have been welcome, while some elements now appear Clichéd.

This Anime series was later edited and redubbed into the film Armitage: Poly-Matrix (1997); followed by a sequel, Armitage: Dual-Matrix (2002), in which Syllabus, Armitage and their daughter are involved with the fight for robot equality (see Politics). [SP]


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