The Animatrix – Nostalgia Critic

The Matrix always seemed like a big cartoon, why not embrace it? Next up, The Animatrix.

About Doug Walker

Creator of 5 Second Movies, Nostalgia Critic, Bum Reviews and more.


  1. While I dislike the Matrix films, I surprisingly enjoyed the Animatrix since I’m an anime fan. I preferred the shorter stories rather than the convuluted shit of the movies. Can’t wait for you to rip apart the next 2 movies Doug. Hehehehehehe…

    Hell yeah, I love Yomarz. One of my favorite of the new talents aside from Lucky Six and Battle Geek Plus. Glad to see you’re pushing new people here 🙂

  2. One with couple fighting looked visually a lot like 90’s anime like Ninja Scroll.

    • There’s a good reason for that. Yoshiaki Kawajiri wrote and directed Program. He also wrote and directed Ninja Scroll. It might be fitting that Program was my favorite since Ninja Scroll got me interested in Anime in the late nineties.

  3. That noir short’s animation is exactly the kind of style we need for a modern day Batman series, not that Beware The Batman and its cheap CGI.

  4. When I think of The Animatrix the one I always remember is Beyond. Maybe because it was a really simple concept that seemed like it could come right out of the real world. But World record and Matriculated also had a big impact on me. I didn’t even recognize the first short.

  5. I barely recall watching this on Cartoon Network years ago, and while I remember enjoying it at the time I remember next to nothing about it. XÞ

  6. Nice Review Doug.

    I have to admit that I also prefer the Animatrix over the actual Matrix trilogy. I disliked some of the shorts at times but alltogether these short movies mostly had unique takes on the concept of the matrix paired with nice animation styles. For anybody who doesn’t want to watch the entire thing I recommend “World Record” and “Beyond” as those two shorts are the best overall in my opinion. Animationwise I enjoyed all of them except the cgi ones which ironically looked dated to me.

    A fan from Germany 😉 (flap flap flap)

  7. I am rather impartial about the Animatrix.
    Or rather, I am impartial about all Animatrix shorts BESIDES the one about the machine uprising…
    Not only did it offend me deeply that they abused (YES abused) holocaust and massacre imagery as well and oversexualization to hammer yet another “HUMENTZ ARE THE DEBUL!!!!” message. It completely disregards EVERY SINGLE piece of literature, philosophy and speculation about artificial intelligence and the responsibility of the creator that came before it. It almost yells “I HAVE NEVER READ FRANKENSTEIN/I ROBOT/KANT/DESCARTES AND THEREFORE NOBODY ELSE HAS! ALL HUMANS ARE DUMB, STUPID AND SUUUUCK!”. If Neo and his peers live in the dimension where humans are like that, the machines are WAY too nice to them.

    • It recognized the three robot laws. The robots went to trial for it and lost. They willfully broke the laws, that starts the revolution. This is inspired by many of those pieces you listed.

      • Three laws? Of Asimov? People still don’t know that Asimov himself write those as commentary, and proof that they have logical flaws in his own story? Mentioning nowadays three laws is suicide in any SF story (at least if it don’t lead to robot uprising).

    • actually, they took allot of inspiration from those

      • And sucked the intelligence and nuance out of them.

      • No, they didn’t. They heard that those works existed and did what stupid people who want to sound smart do. Get the Wikipedia entry of the work and throw it in.
        If they had read those books and maybe a few more, this wouldn’t be the mindless plothole bonanza that it is.
        I mean… besides the robot reaching “intelligence” the way it did, there are so many holes in this:
        Where are the people discussing the implications of the robots reaching self-awareness and demand that mankind take responsibility for their creations?
        Where are the philosophers and diplomats reaching out to them?
        How is humanity able to even round the machines up and dispose of them? Humans have become complacent, the machines should be able to download their conciousness to safety and if not, they are physically superior to any human!
        Why is the economy influenced by the machine city? The humans just have to stop trading with the machines.
        Why do the machines build the Matrix? Don’t they have Uranium/Geothermal energy/Tidal plants/Osmoelectric plants?

  8. I really enjoyed much of the Animatrix (I didn’t much care for the look of the one with the runner, or the “feel” of the noir one. It was done well, but the 1940s noir feel didn’t seem to jive with the present-day look/feel in the movies.)

    I don’t recall if this is made obvious or not in the the Animatrix but the kid in “Kid’s Story” was supposed to be the kid who greeted Neo when we see him arrive in Xion during the second movie. And I always wondered why if that kid, and to another extent the runner, were able to “self actualize”, that is were able to wake themselves out of The Matrix without any real outside interference why weren’t *they* “The Ones.” Seems to me they’d be much more powerful and have a greater concept of The Matrix and how to manipulate it over someone who had to be woken up.

    This, of course, is accepting that “The One” was a “true prophecy” and not the manufactured BS the machines came up with for rebellion control, or whatever that nonsense was. God the sequels sucked.

  9. I remember watching this right when it came out, and liking it a lot. Though not having watched it at all in years has revealed something amazing to me. The only short that had a lasting effect on me was “World Record”, because it’s the only one that to this day remembered the whole gist of it and visual style. And it’s funny to me, because at the time, I remember NOT liking it because I thought the style was ugly and exaggerated, and the message rather simple. Yet it’s that exaggeratedness of the style, and simplicity of the story that made it last in my mind.

    This was overall a very appreciated review for me, as it kinda makes me want to watch all of them again. If nothing else, it is commendable that more than a decade later, almost all of these shorts (Including the CGI ones) still look pretty damn striking. And I do love that every single one has a very distinctive art-style.

  10. the thing is you needed to actually watch the anime and play the videogame to get the full story before going into the matrix sequels. does that mean you’ll be reviewing the videogame next?

  11. I never saw the Animatrix, despite having several people recommend it to me.

  12. I like the history one and the last one best

  13. So the backstory of the Matrix is basically the Quarian/Geth scenario, but we didn’t have spaceships to run away in.

    • That scenario was more a knockoff of the new Battlestar Galactica.

      • Technically the recent Battlestar Galactica miniseries came out in December of 2003 (and served as a pilot for the full series in 2004) while the Animatrix came out in June of 2003, six months earlier. I think it’s not so much they stole from any particular source but just the generic “Humans are greedy, stupid, warmongers” well that even talented writers can draw from *cough*….Avatar…*cough*

    • Yes. Mass Effect actually kind of reminds of The Second Renaissance: philosophical idiotic machines trying to sound morally superior while actually descending to levels their creators would never sink too… and the narrative presents THEM as sympathetic.

  14. Animatrix is probably my favorite of the movies around the The Matrix. Many of those shorts are far more memorable than the three movies. Just good design, good stories, art and for some actual character.

  15. The Animatrix was a colossal win and is something that way more franchises should do. Halo Legends was also amazing and imagine what Half Life could do with this.

  16. Where is the Reloaded review? Aside from that chase on the freeway, there is nothing worthwhile in that film!

    • Next week. It’s been announced in the end of the Care Bears Nutcracker review that he was gonna review this before Reloaded.

    • From the moment Neo starts fighting in the Chateau to the time he saves Morpheus and the Keymaker from the colliding rigs with the 52 foot trailers is twenty minutes of non-stop action. Which is incredibly hard to sustain and I always thought was an impressive sketch of action pieces. But when Trinity rides against the traffic, it still gives me goosebumps. It’s the only thing about that film I really enjoy.

  17. Even though I’m not a big fan of anime, I have to admit that some of the stories here were pretty well done. I guess I have to really try to get past the akward animation, which I also admit was really exploitive in The Second Renaissance.

  18. I really need to see this!

  19. did you know, we as a species dont exactly comprehend why did intelligence and self consience arrise in any species? we best relate it to a proccess called convergence, process in which a complex system naturally produces several new functions direfent for which initialli worked, and it seems the complexity of the human brain is enogh for this proccesses to occure, and also another animals in a lesser magnitude phenomenon, of convergence, if an artificial brain could generate this proccese on his own is explored in places such as the mass effect videogame series, this is the reason given for the “geth” species to identify as such and develope conciosness and emotions, so for me it was preaty clear that the narrative and horror of the machine uprissing is a perfect fit, you are waching a history of extincion and revolution, and that just happens to be preaty horrid, and also is what is called the version of the triunfant, so it also makes sense that humans are depicted as the devil

  20. Even though I am a huge animation fan, to the point I usually prefer something of high animation quality to something of high live action quality, I have to say that I prefer the first Matrix movie for one reason, hope. The Animatrix with shorts like “The Second Renaissance” just felt so bleak and nihilistic compared to the movie itself, that I find it to be sadly a more kind of comfort over film-making skill type of thing. Also, more so than the Matrix movie itself, watching the Animatrix just gives me a huge craving for cyberpunk that I have a hard time satisfying because I’m not really into that genre of entertainment.

    Also I find it interesting, IMO, to compare and contrast “The Second Renaissance” to “Matriculated”. It feels almost like Grant Morrison or Mark Waid making a rebuttal to the Evolution music video from Pearl Jam.

    • Exactly. Granted, it’s hard to not be bleak and nihilistic when it’s a backstory with a sad ending, but still I feel that a lot of The Second Renaissance was unrealistic edgy for the sake of edginess.

  21. Y’now… why DO humans want to get out of the Matrix? They get to live in a paradise world where there’s food, water, and clean skies, but no, instead they want to break out and live in the shitty blasted out wasteland that makes Fallout look like Valhalla. Just… why? Because it’s not real? Fuck it, it’s better than having to kill a man over a bontiful banquet of cave rat.

    I mean, the machines did show RIDICULOUS amounts of mercy towards humans by creating the Matrix. The humans basically behaved like Megahitlers (for no fucking reason other than MAAAAAAAAAN!), yet they are still allowed to live in a dream world, fake as it may be, while the machines relegate themselves to the blasted, destroyed Earth that, keep in mind, was destroyed by humans.

    Why are the humans the heroes of the story? Fuck it, the machines are FAR more likable, they’re the reverse Skynet, I want for them to win.

    • Except that literally nothing means anything, the machines are in control of pretty much every aspect of human life thus preventing any means of change to happen, we are fed corpses and to get that world there were human vivissections.

      Granted, that doesn’t justify the edgy teen rebel behaviour of the revolution, but the machines aren’t saints, they’re just another form of extreme that needs to be stopped.

  22. Doug, I really was looking forward to this review, and sad to say I was very disappointed on your view on ‘The Second Renaissance’. That one is a fave of mine JUST because of the history it gives and the background info it reveals; that the robots were not totally in the wrong. But I am aware of your dislike of exposition so I’m not surprised that you disliked it…still, disappointing.

    As for the others I agree, my other 2 faves being ‘World Record’ and ‘Matriculated’.
    But ‘Program’ being your fave? Seriously…? I thought you hated pretension, and that is definitely one that is dripping with it, as well as being ‘meh’ and on the same level of enjoyability as ‘Last Flight of the Osiris’.

    But hey, it’s you’re opinion on it and that’s fine. I was just hoping for a more in depth look on the second chapter.

  23. Yeah, I also like the Animatrix because it’s pretty visually neat and genuinely interesting at times.

    Though the Second Renaissance short isn’t really that confusing, for the most part–the truly WTF moment was the UN deciding to blot out the sky…as opposed to just plain old bombs? But apart from that…honestly, a violent and fearful reaction to a rising AI society I could really see…since let’s face it, humans kinda ARE paranoid, needlessly dickish, and violent. Proof? Well, just look at all the conflicts currently happening for stupid, paranoid, needlessly dickish reasons. And throughout history. We’re not really pleasant beings, collectively.

    Other than that the visuals do really stick, especially the battle montage. It does imply, to me at least, that the Machines created the Matrix as a means to prove themselves better, as a final finger-up.

    Beyond that, do like the short by Takeshi Koike, whose style I also liked in the really silly but really awesome anime film Redline.

    • Yes, mankind is responsible for countless atrocities, but the sheer level of stupidity and monstrousity in The Second Renaissance is extremely unrealistic and only the result of a nihilist’s sex fantasies. Not to mention that there are literally a thousand ways to solve the conflict without serial escalation.

      • To be honest, come to think of it even the more gratuitous stuff I can accept as it’s presented as a historical record based on sketchy information, no doubt with exaggerations and perhaps even distortions as history often has.

      • “the sheer level of stupidity and monstrousity in The Second Renaissance is extremely unrealistic”

        No it is not. Open a history book or read some international news. This is exactly the reason those images where “exploitatively” taken from real events. It’s there to remind us that we did those things and that therefore we can do them again.

  24. Let me guess? You didnt pay atention to the part were it SAY THAT THEY WERE SOLAR POWERED?

    • And I guess they forgot about the whole “We need the sun to do literally everything” part.

    • And where do you think OUR energy comes from, smartass? Hell, the director’s commentary shows that humanity was exclusively dependent on solar power by the time the conflict took place.

      So not only were humans in the Matrix too stupid to realise what the plants that the basis of their food chain depend on, but also that their own technology was going to fail.

  25. For the most part I like the review. We differ on opinion of some of the shorts, but that’s ok :).

    I was hoping though that you’d talk more about the connections between the Animatrix and the Matrix movies, especially since you’re reviewing all of them. The Kid on the skateboard is the same kid that idolizes Neo in Revolutions and the Osiris is mentioned in the first scene of Reloaded, where Zion receives the message sent in that short.

    Also, both ‘Kids Story’ and ‘World Record’ deal with people getting out of the Matrix with their own power, in stead of directly being shown the truth by others. Perhaps this message would have been clearer in ‘Kids Story’ if it would have been shown after ‘World Record’.

    I didn’t find the lack of detailed explanation in the history lessons in ‘The Second Renaissance’ all that bothersome. History often doesn’t have all the details, so a situation where ‘We know this happened, but not exactly why’ is not all that strange, especially since this history comes from the Zion mainframe and not the Machine mainframe. This added to the experience for me.

  26. ReaderGamerSinger

    Actually in Rotten Tomatoes, The Animatrix beats The Matrix by %1

  27. Seeing as how The Legend of Korra is over, you think you might consider an Old Vs. New: A:TLA Vs. TLOK? I know myself and many many others would love to see that.

    • well TLA would win. Though it would be kinda unfair. TLA had way more time thus had a better developed cast and story. LOK suffered with short seasons and nick screwing it around. Thus character and story were hit hard.

      • Korra would definitely win in the animation department, and possibly the character department. I think Korra’s arc (from season 3 onward) is one of the best ever written in animation.

  28. Well, they certainly look good. It’s nice to have you review this.

  29. Okay, I’m convinced. I gotta get this real soon.

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