Brief synopsis: In a future where a person’s consciousness and personality can be transferred to a new body – a sleeve – their life is housed in a small disc that is implanted into the spine at the neck called a stack. Takeshi Kovac (Ray Chase), the last envoy – an exceptional soldier with empathic abilities -, is re-sleeved in order to use his particular skillset to protect a young Yakuza tattooist, Holly (Brittany Cox) from a dangerous cabal of red-clad ninja assassins. He is also tasked with finding the killer of the Mizimoto clan’s leader.
Is it any good?: Altered Carbon: Resleeved is an anime spin-off of the successful Netflix series Altered Carbon, itself based on a book by Richard K. Morgan. The live-action, television series has fantastic visuals and the anime, with much more creative scope, follows the same visual style with the animation crisp and vibrant. It is an enjoyable anime, though probably not for the anime purist, as it does not explore the more esoteric elements normally associated with anime.
Spoiler territory: on the planet Latimer, a young woman, Holly, is running for her life. She is being chased by two burly men. At the same time, Takeshi Kovac has just been resleeved and wakes up in Latimer. Holly tries to escape into a crowd but is caught by one of the men. She just wants to escape off of the planet. As the man tries to explain it is not safe for her to be out, he gets killed. His partner is quickly dispatched with as well.
Holly tries to run but is grabbed by the assassin. Kovac intervenes. He has been employed to protect her. Kovac has been employed by Tanaseda (Doug Stone), to look into the death of his brother who was head of the Mizumoto yakuza clan. Holly is the clan tattooist. She will be able to help him infiltrate the clan and find out who might have killed his brother.
In a virtual meeting, Tanaseda explains that Holly is important to the clan because she is part of the succession ritual that ensures that no one leader can rule indefinitely. The leader of the clan undergoes a permanent death. The Mizumoto clan prides itself on this ritual as it shows the ultimate commitment to the clan.
After the meeting, Holly, who did not know that Kovac was an envoy, tries to run away again. Kovac goes after her. Holly runs into Gena (Elizabeth Maxwell), who is part of CTAC, a police/military crime division. She tells Holly that she needs to come with her. Kovac catches up with them. He tells Gena that Holly is with him. Gena’s team surround them, Gena thinks Kovac is part of the Mizumoto clan.
Before Kovac can react to the situation, the CATC team get attacked. It is the red ninja assassins. They take out the entire CATC team. Gena and Kovac kill all of the ninjas. Gena and Kovac decide to work together; Gena investigating the clan for CATC and Kovac for Tanaseda. They take a reluctant Holly back to the Mizumoto clan headquarters.
The headquarters is attached to a hotel that is run by an A.I program called Ogai (Chris Conner). Ogai appears in human form as a hologram. He tells Gena and Kovac that they are welcome to stay. The soon-to-be head of the clan, Shinji (Kaiji Tang), comes into the foyer. When Kovac talks to Shinji, his bodyguards all pull their guns. Holly explains to Shinji that they are her bodyguards.
Shinji orders his bodyguards to retreat. He welcomes them into the hotel. Now inside the hotel, Gena, who believes Genzo (Jamieson Price), the outgoing boss, is trying to take down the clan, begins to investigate. She takes a pass off of one of the guards in the hotel so as she can get access to every room. Gena also has an ulterior motive wanting to destroy the Yakuza.
Kovac talks to Tanaseda again. He tells him that there does not seem to be anything amiss about his brother’s death, him having been part of the Mizumoto succession. Tanaseda is not so sure as the code would have to have been handed down by their father and he feels it is not something his father would agree to.
Kovac finds out that one of the reasons Holly works for the Mizumoto clan is that Genzo has promised to help find her parents stacks. Her parents were killed many years before but their stacks were not destroyed. Holly wants to find them.
The ninjas are having a meeting with Shinji. He is not happy. He is behind the hunt for Holly and cannot understand why she is not dead yet. Gena finds out that the clan have Holly’s parents’ stacks and that is why she is there.
They all go to see Genzo, flanked by a team of security guards. They are attacked by the ninjas who take out all of the security team. Gena and Kovac defeat the ninjas. A second battalion attack. They run to the foyer. Ogai initialises the hotel’s defences and kills them all.
Kovac wants to know why Genzo wants Holly dead. She explains that the boss dies during the succession ceremony, never to come back. She provides the technology, through her tattoos, that kills them and she is the only one who does that sort of tattoo. Gena contacts CTAC and tells them she has enough information on Genzo. They tell her to withdraw and that she should eliminate Holly. Gena returns to the room they are all in.
Gena overhears Kovac singing a song. It is from her childhood. She realises that Kovac is her brother but she does not tell him. Kovac meets with Tanasedo again and mentions Shinji’s distinctive laugh. Tanasedo realises who is behind the hunt for Holly. Tanasedo asks Kovac to investigate something else. Gena tries to persuade Kovac to turn his back on the mission, explaining that it is too dangerous. He refuses.
Kovac finds Genzo’s cloning area. It is succession day. Holly drugs Shinji and has him taken to the succession area. The ninjas attack Gena and Kovac and the hotel security. Genzo dies during the succession ceremony and Shinji takes his mantle. Tanasedo is there to congratulate him. And expose him. It is his father. His father had always swapped bodies before the ceremony, thus always retaining leadership of the clan. He is now in the Shinji sleeve.
Holly confronts Shinji and asks for her parents’ stacks, having been told that the clan bought them some years before. Shinji smashes the stacks in front of her. Gena, Kovac and the clan come up to confront Shinji, Kovac having told the clan what had happened. Shinji pushes Holly towards them and disappears. They go after him. Shinji, now clad in a super suit, kills all of the clan’s men. He is defeating Kovac and Holly asks Ogai to intervene. The hotel tells her that he is under the rule of Shinji.
Tanasedo arrives. He has uploaded new data to Ogai that shows that even though it is Shinji’s body, it is not Shinji. Ogai attacks. The suit takes the brunt of the attack. Kovac stabs the circuitry causing the suit to fall apart. Kovac and Shinji fight and Kovac beats him to a pulp. Holly destroys his stack. Tanasedo shoots him so as his death his not prolonged.
Gena tells Holly that as far as CTAC is concerned she is dead. Tanasedo has another job for Kovac. The end.
Altered Carbon: Resleeved is an entertaining anime with breathtaking anime. With a screenplay by Dai Satô and Tsukasa Kondo and directed by Takeru Nakajima and Yoshiyuki Okada, Altered Carbon: Resleeved romps through an action-filled seventy-four minutes. As I mentioned earlier, the anime stays away from the more spiritual and mystic vibe that tends to surround anime and is more like the Netflix series in its approach.
With a relatively straight forward story and very little secondary story, the anime keeps it moving with the very graphic action set pieces. Severed limbs and blood aplenty, the directors have real fun with the angles and edits during the combat scenes. The vocal work by the English speaking actors is good and does not take you out of proceedings at any point.
The real star of the anime is the animation, however. There is a scene that involves smoke and blood and steam, plus all the movement and it is utterly brilliant. I can freely admit I am no expert when it comes to anime but I did enjoy Altered Carbon: Resleeved a lot. Admittedly, I am a big fan of the series as well. That being said, with its short runtime, it is definitely worth a watch.