This past May I bought three DVDs of Armitage III (having mistakenly purchased both the OVA and poly-matrix along with dual-matrix), but whatever, I finally got to see this old anime classic that gets lauded alongside Ghost in the Shell for its portrayal of the man-machine interface. It wasn’t quite what I’d expected, but it was still pretty cool (maybe I should have watched the OVA instead of the compilation movie or watched it subbed instead of dubbed for a better sense of the nuances), but what really struck me was the big answer to why the sudden murders and apparent conspiracy are taking place.
The answer is that the killing spree that has been claiming the lives of top-secret Third-type androids is a government conspiracy to eliminate the idea of gynoids (in this particular instance referring to female androids with advanced enough physiology and intelligence to become pregnant and give birth) from Martian culture since the current sentiment on Earth is a feminist one that will not approve of women being replaced by machines; with a unification treaty imminent between the weakened Mars and the powerful, wealthy Earth, the red planet’s bigwigs have decided that Thirds have to be swept under the rug. Now, I’m not sure how that struck other people who’ve seen Armitage III, but to me this last puzzle piece, in addition to all the little hints throughout the rest of the title, suggests that the real enemy to be defeated (according to the producers) is feminism. Feminism is the reason Naomi Armitage and her fellows have all been marked for death.
The reasoning behind the elimination of the Thirds – to pander to the ruling Earth’s stance on feminism – coupled with Naomi’s decidedly sexualized style of dress and almost infantilized appearance and demeanor – strikes an odd chord with me. She takes comfort in the arms of a big, strong man, as do so many anime heroines of this feature’s era and even setting aside the fact that the Thirds’ purpose is to act as machine receptacles for male genetic material, a good number of the Seconds (more standard service androids) seemed relegated to working as cute waitresses in cafés and hostess bars. The sensitive, artistic, all-female Thirds are being murdered by men who are, essentially, working for feminists. The murdered Third-type Jessica Mannish even struck me as a bit of a lesbian at first glance, not only because she first appears while drawing a nude female model, but that her surname sort of gives away her most defining feature (please forgive). The juxtaposition between a pretty, pseudo-peaceful new regime and the atrocities being committed under the surface to ensure its rise isn’t anything new, but the images of the female President (chairman, whatever) waving her middle-aged hand as her motorcade passes through the cities beaming its new slogan of “One World, One Nation” (and don’t even get me started on the apocalyptic connotations of that little spiel) presents a slightly different significance than usual when set against the simultaneously-occurring scenes depicting the absolute annhilation of the laboratory where the peaceful, plant-based “Alives” type robots are being developed. The point of it (aside from the more obvious “everyone has the right to life”) seems, under the surface to be: this massacre is happening because those Womyn on Earth just HAD to have their way; as if saying, “yeah, the system is unequal, but we were all pretty happy with it before. Why do all these manly bitches gotta stir up trouble?” An odd message, certainly, but not so odd when you consider the source. Japan hasn’t really been a paragon of sexual equality and, though I love it, anime is frequently guilty of the same sin in that regard.
Maybe the sequel, Dual-Matrix, will shed some new light on my interpretation of its predecessor, but until that happens, I think I’m going to look askance at it on DVD store shelves.