Altered Carbon: Resleeved

At some point in the 21st century, humans stumbled upon alien technology that enabled them to digitise their consciousness and store it on a small device known as a “stack”. Made effectively immortal – so long as their “stack” remains undamaged – each individual is able to transfer their consciousness from one body to another, while bodies themselves become nothing more than cloned – and disposable – shells known as “sleeves”.  But even as humanity expands to the stars, the benefits of “stacks” are not shared equally: the uber-wealthy and powerful are able to upload the contents of their “stacks” on a daily basis to secure mainframes, ensuring that even if their “stack” is destroyed, they can “reset” to their last upload and return as though nothing happened. Some 250 years after the discovery that made “stack” technology possible, Takeshi Kovacs is a fugitive turned detective who is forced to investigate the machinations unfolding within a yakuza clan on the planet Latimer. Accompanied by Gina, an elite military agent attached to the United Nations Protectorate, Kovacs meets Holly, a young yakuza tattooist who gives him access to the clan’s leadership. After a series of violent encounters, in which both Kovacs and Gina display their combat prowess, the nature of the power-play within the clan becomes apparent – and it is not the traditional grab for control that everyone expects. At the same time, the secrets lurking within Holly and Gina’s pasts emerge into the light, forcing Kovacs to fight for more than just his own survival…

Based on the 2002 novel by Richard K Morgan and produced as a companion feature piece to the Netflix live action series “Altered Carbon”, “Altered Carbon: Resleeved” was produced by Japanese animation studio Anima and released in March 2020. A visually stunning mix of 2D, 3D, and CGI animation techniques, “Altered Carbon: Resleeved” proceeds upon a predictable plot arc whose denouement, though containing a nice twist, is nonetheless foreshadowed to the observant viewer and ultimately comes as no surprise. Taking visual cues from “Bladerunner” and “Ghost In The Shell”, “Altered Carbon: Resleeved” is notable for its superbly choreographed (and graphically bloody) action sequences; and despite the predictability of the story, it nonetheless explores questions of personal identity in a reality in which physical bodies no longer have meaning, as well as the nature of tradition in radically altered social circumstances.  Receiving only moderate reviews from critics, “Altered Carbon: Resleeved” is nonetheless worth watching for its gorgeous aesthetic values, and for the well-paced (if thin) storyline that still manages to entertain.

Text ©Copyright Brendan E Byrne 2020. All rights reserved.