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The Animatrix, a 2003 anthology of nine animated shorts connected to the Matrix film series, helped bridge the gap between The Matrix and The Matrix Reloaded while offering more information about the Matrix universe. Each short features a different art style and follows a different storyline:
- Final Flight of the Osiris (written by the Wachowskis, directed by Andy Jones, animation by Square Pictures): This short (the only CGI short of the collection) directly precedes the events of The Matrix Reloaded. The crew of the human ship Osiris stumbles upon the machines as they begin burrowing to Zion. After the machines discover the Osiris, the crew tries to outrun the machines while hacking into the Matrix to deliver the news of their discovery to the Zion rebels. The story also ties in with the videogame Enter the Matrix, since one of the first missions has the player trying to retrieve the letter left by the Osiris crew.
- The Second Renaissance (written by the Wachowskis, directed by Mahiro Maeda, animation by Studio 4°C): This two-part story focuses on the creation of The Matrix. After the creation of AI, the machines eventually formed their own society and tried to co-exsist with humans — but were shunned for reasons of economics and prejudice. War eventually broke out and…well, if you've seen the movie, you know the outcome.
- Kid's Story (written by the Wachowskis, directed by Shinichiro Watanabe, animation by Studio 4°C): This short, set between the first movie and Reloaded, focuses on a young kid who (like Neo before him) senses something off about his world — and finds himself forced to run for his life when his unnatural intuition attracts Agents.
- Program (written and directed by Yoshiaki Kawajiri, animation by Madhouse Studios): This short follows the training session of a freed individual within her favorite program (Feudal Era Japan) and a sparring match with a partner who says he wishes to return to the Matrix.
- World Record (written by Yoshiaki Kawajiri, directed by Takeshi Koeke, animation by Madhouse Studios): This short explores the story of track runner Dan Davis, who has become obsessed with setting a world record. The story switches between the days before his race and the race itself — where Dan runs so fast, he begins to break the rules of The Matrix…
- Beyond (written and directed by Koji Morimoto, animation by Studio 4°C): Within the Matrix, Japanese teenager Yoko searches for her lost cat, and during her search, she discovers a "haunted house" where physics don't seem to apply — but her discovery does not go unnoticed by the Matrix.
- A Detective Story (written and directed by Shinichiro Watanabe, animation by Studio 4°C): Cyberpunk meets noir in a tale about modern-day detective Ash, whose newest job — to find the elusive Trinity — gets more dangerous as he tries his best to get a lead on her.
- Matriculated (written and directed by Peter Chung, animation by DNA): This short follows a group of above-ground human rebels as they attempt to reprogram a captured machine so it will fight for humanity.
The Animatrix provides examples of the following tropes:
- All Just a Dream: In Program, Cis faces off with Duo, who says he wants to re-enter the Matrix. When Cis finishes the program, she finds out that she faced off against a virtual program designed to test her reaction to the situation. Even though she volunteered for the test in the first place, she still gets pissed when she finds out the truth.
- Anyone Can Die: Anyone who didn't appear in the movies falls under this trope.
- Arc Welding: The Final Flight of the Osiris melds into Enter The Matrix, which melds into Reloaded.
- Art Shift: Each short has its own distinctive art style.
- Beyond the Impossible: In World Record, Dan manages to run fast enough to cause glitches in the Matrix as it struggles to keep up with him. Even when the Matrix freezes the program, it doesn't stop him for long.
- After the Machines manage to reconnect him and make sure he can never walk again, he briefly manages to glitch gravity and begin floating.
- In Kid's Story, The Kid managed to wake himself up from the Matrix, an act nobody considered possible.
- Direct to Video
- Downer Ending: Save for Kid's Story and Program (and technically Beyond), none of the other stories end well.
- Driven to Suicide: The Kid manages to break free of the Matrix this way.
- Expy: Cis serves as one to Cypher, only she chose not to return to the Matrix.
- Face Death with Dignity: Ash combines this trope with One Last Smoke in A Detective Story.
- Face Heel Turn: Duo (Program)
- Humans Are Bastards: The Second Renaissance paints humans this way, but some bias could exist, as this short retells the events leading up to the war from the machines' point of view.
- Haunted House: Yoko and several children in Beyond discover a "haunted house". A glitch in the Matrix causes all of the weird phenomena in the house.
- Secret Test of Character: Program
- White-Haired Pretty Girl: Cis (Program)
- You Are Not Alone: In Kid's Story, The Kid feels like only he thinks reality feels less real than his dreams, which leads him to ask people on the Internet if anyone else feels the same way. In the end, the trope gets invoked when someone (either The Kid or another rebel) writes back: "You are not alone."