Shortstember: The Animatrix

What is The Matrix?

The Matrix is everywhere, it is all around us.

Well, okay, it’s not. But it used to be. In those weird few years surrounding the turn of the millennium the Matrix was an absolute phenomenon, genuinely one of the most influential movie franchises of all time. In fact, I’d argue that it was a victim of its own success. Its aesthetic was so instantly iconic and easily replicable that it quickly became cliché. Movies don’t look like the Matrix anymore because so many movies released around that time aped its look and suddenly it wasn’t cool anymore. And make no mistake, the Matrix was all about being cool. Less a story than a vibe.

No, that’s not fair. The Matrix’s intellectual depth may have been exaggerated but if you’d never heard of Descartes it could and did give an entry point into various philosophical ideas. Its language and concepts have filtered into our discourse (red pills, bread pills) and has gone on to inspire many a modern science fiction writer (DID I MENTION RECENTLY I WROTE A BOOK?). It’s a damn impressive legacy for a series that, if we’re brutally honest, consisted of one good (if by no means flawless) film, two mediocre sequels and a filmed cry for help.

This movie has a scene where Lana Wachowski’s self-insert cries in the bath because Warner Brothers (WHO ARE MENTIONED BY NAME) are forcing him to create a fourth Matrix. I am not making a word of that up.

Oh, and it also gave us the subject of this years Shortstember, the Animatrix. This is an anthology series that came about when the Wachowskis visited Japan to promote the first Matrix and visited some of the animé studios that had been such a huge influence on their work. They then commissioned those studios to create nine short films set in the world they had created, which were then released on DVD and on online to promote the second film, Matrix Reloaded. For something basically created as an advertisement for another movie, The Animatrix went on to become the most critically acclaimed part of this entire franchise with the exception of the original film.

So join me this Shortstember as we review the Animatrix. Which ones are good, which ones are bad, and which ones are like wiping your arse with silk.


  1. On the subject of the Matrix, as a metaphor for being Trans, it works oddly well. And, also, uh…Here’s a story I always find depressing but also oddly empowering. According to Lana, in her sophomore year of highschool, she realized she was Trans, and, after realizing that there was a risk she might devlop facial hair soon, she began listening to the voices, in her head: Freak, broken, wrong…She wrote a suicide note. She went down to the train platform, and waited for the A-train, intent of jumping. Thankfully, there was an old man who stared right at her and wouldn’t stop. She couldn’t bring herself to jump while he was watching…In the Matrix, during the famous fight scene in the train station, there’s a moment where Agent Smith holds down Neo, addressing as “Mr. Anderson”, his old name, as the train bears down. Then, Neo breaks out, and confidently declares his identity: His name is Neo. I…I can’t be imagining that parallel, ya know?

  2. This is one of those films (well, anthologies) that I know I watched, but I don’t remember a thing about it. Then again, I barely remember anything about the Matrix trilogy, either.

    … I think I just remember cartoons better.

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