The Animatrix: All 9 Segments, Ranked

AbraxasNovember 4, 2021

Much like Star Wars: Visions released nearly two decades later, The Animatrix is a collection of animated shorts within the world of a live-action franchise, each of which tells a different story that may or may not be canon but seeks to explore the themes and concepts of the fictional universe.

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The Animatrix as a whole was better-received than either of the two sequels to The Matrix, but not all of the shorts contained within are equal. Although all have their merits, and the entire thing is worth watching. But some shorts are better than others, whether it is based on storytelling, its place within The Matrix‘s wider universe, or simply visual beauty.

9 “A Detective Story” Feels Out Of Place

Trinity pointing a gun in 'A Detective Story' the Animatrix

Most notable for heavily featuring Trinity and for its distinctive art style, “A Detective Story” follows a private investigator in a dystopian noir world as he investigates Trinity and ends up involved with the Agents hunting her.

It is by no means bad watching, but it sticks out due to its noir tone, and due to its setting not being possible to fit within The Matrix canon, further confused by the heavy presence of Trinity. Furthermore, in more than one place it feels like a retread of the first act of the first film, despite a different ending.

8 “Kid’s Story” Tries Too Hard To Make Its Protagonist Exceptional

The Kid jumps to his death in Kid's Story the Animatrix

The only short of The Animatrix to feature Neo is also one of its more unfortunately underwhelming. It tells the origin of The Kid, a character who makes minor appearances in The Matrix Reloaded and The Matrix Revolution‘s Zion scenes, a hacker who manages to free himself from the Matrix through nothing but sheer willpower.

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Ultimately, it rings hollow despite the story’s positive points, with it straining belief that the Kid can do something that Neo cannot, with no real payoff for his exceptional nature.

7 “Final Flight Of The Osiris” Dates Itself Poorly By Trying Too Hard To Look Real

The two protagonists back to back in 'Final Flight of the Osiris' The Animatrix

“Final Flight of the Osiris” is a short that hearkens strongly to the feel of the original film, and is definitely canon, showing the city of Zion learning about the impending Machine attack. Opening with a cinematic dojo fight and ending with a climactic race against time to deliver a message before certain death, it is certainly good viewing.

However, the short dates itself heavily be relying on attempted-realistic CGI to tell its story, rather than the more stylistic art of the other shorts. As a result, advances in CG technology have left it looking dated and clunky, making it harder to take seriously.

6 “Beyond” Is Entertaining, But Odd

The girl sees a glitch in the Matrix in 'Beyond' the Animatrix

One of the shorts where the creators look to explore the logic of the world of The Matrix with the themes taking a back seat, “Beyond” is an entertaining look at normal people dealing with the oddities of the Matrix. A girl goes looking for her lost cat in a supposedly haunted house, which is experiencing glitches in the Matrix.

The short is notable for showing Agents in a non-hostile light, as they appear doing more mundane work than hunting down heroes, instead coming to “troubleshoot” the haunted house and making sure the children playing nearby are not harmed. Ultimately, it is an interesting tale, but not much more.

5 “Matriculated” Is An Interesting Reversal

Rebels form their own Matrix in 'Matriculated' the Animatrix

Another short of dubious canonicity, “Matriculated” focuses on a group of human rebels who capture a single machine, and put it into a simulated Matrix of their own, in the hopes of teaching it human virtues and convincing it to side with humanity over the Machines.

Ultimately, they succeed, but after all of the humans but one are killed, the Machine puts the one surviving human in the Matrix to save her life, leaving it ambiguous whether its intentions are benign or malicious. The short’s unique premise and bizarre, beautiful visuals make it a solid watch.

4 “Program” Simulates Loyalty & Betrayal

Cis and Duo duel on a rooftop in 'Program' the Animatrix

The “Program” short shows a Zion rebel by the name of Cis training in virtual environments, when she is joined by another warrior named Duo. The two fight flirtatiously, and when it appears that Duo is going to make a romantic overture, he instead tells Cis that he wants to leave the Matrix, and wants her to come with him.

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The two fight, and even with its stylized art form, the emotion in the battle is clear to see. As Duo dies, the reveal is made that the entire thing was fake, and there was no Duo. Cis storms off, but is told she passed the test of loyalty. It is a darker look at the Resistance and their training programs that the films didn’t even hint at.

3 “World Record” Makes An Unlikely Premise Work

Dan outruns Agents in World Record the Animatrix

On a similar theme to “Kid’s Story,” “World Record” tells the story of a person who manages to glimpse the real world outside the Matrix for a few seconds, without taking the red pill. It follows a runner who is disqualified for drug use, and attempts to break the 100m world record to prove that he can.

His speed, his determination, and a crippling leg injury he continues to run on serve to produce enough energy to short out his pod, giving him a brief glimpse outside the Matrix. The film manages to just about make sense, alongside some inspiring and intriguing storytelling, including a beautiful shot of Agents taking over three fellow runners to try and stop the protagonist.

2 “The Second Renaissance Part I” Is Controversial But Beautiful

Robot delegates appear before the United Nations in The Second Renaissance Part I The Animatrix

The only two-part short in the entire collection, “The Second Renaissance” shows the beginnings of the Machines’ interactions with humanity, and the inevitable breakdown into war. The two are hard to rank with one better than the other. The first part shows the creation of the Machines, their legal troubles and eventual self-exile to their own nation, and the political tensions leading to a blockade of that nation.

It is one of the most thematic shorts of the whole collection, drawing inspiration from countless real-world historical events to parallel how humans treat the machines. It is somewhat controversial with fans for how deeply cruel it shows humanity to be, but is nonetheless acclaimed for its powerful storytelling.

1 “The Second Renaissance Part II” Shows The True Horror Of The Matrix

The sky is blotted out in part 2 of The Second Renaissance the Animatrix

The second part of the short shows the inevitable breakdown into war between humans and the Machines, and the desperate tactics both resort to. As a result, it is responsible for some of the purest and most visceral horror in the franchise.

Whether it is the machines transforming themselves into monstrous insectoid forms and developing cruel ways to torturously kill human soldiers, the viciousness with which humans nuke their own soldiers to slow down Machines, or Machine experiments on still-conscious humans, the short pulls no punches. One of the most horrifying shots of an entire franchise is a many-eyed machine forcing human delegates to sign a crippling surrender, then demanding the bodies of all humans, before blowing itself up to kill the last of the human leadership.

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