Netflix Review – Altered Carbon: Resleeved – Honor Matters Little to Immortals

Takeshi Kovacs is back and hired to protect a Yakuza’s tattoo artist. 

SUMMARY (Spoiler-Free)

Taking place a year after Season 1, Holly Togram (Ayaka Asai) is being chased by a number of Yakuza members and ninjas before she finds herself saved by a recently resleeved Takeshi Kovacs (Tatsuhisa Suzuki). It’s revealed that Holly is a sacred tattoo artist to the Mizumoto syndicate, a Yakuza group. Takeshi has been awakened by Tanaseda Hideki (Kenji Yamauchi), a Yakuza boss from Harlan’s World (setting of the first and second season of Altered Carbon), who wants Takeshi to protect Holly and investigate the death of Tanaseda’s younger brother who was involved in the Mizumoto syndicate. It’s revealed that the Mizumoto group was founded by Tanaseda’s father. Genzo (Kouji Ishii), the current head of the group, explains that he is preparing to die permanently. The only way that the Mizumoto syndicate preserves its honor is by having the stacks belonging to their leaders destroyed permanently when they have finished their time and their successor takes over. Holly is the only one who can apply the sacred tattoos to the new head, Shinji (Kanehira Yamamoto). Complicating everything is that undercover CTAC agent Gena (Rina Satou) is investigating the syndicate and she has a history with Takeshi.

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This time he’s a bit more augmented than even his normal version. 

END SUMMARY

When I first saw this, since it wasn’t part of the current Netflix series, I was hoping that this film might just be another story from the same universe unrelated to Takeshi Kovacs. There are a lot of things we know about the people who live in the Altered Carbon society which would make for interesting stories besides just “action/mystery.” Instead, it’s basically season 1.5 of the series, so if you like the series, you’ll like this. 

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Or if you like bulletproof ninjas.

The art style of the film is similar to the Netflix Anime Kengan Ashura, which is 3D animation with heavy shading and lines, but it’s a lot cleaner due to being a film. The character designs are more distinctly Eastern than much of the live-action series, which correlates with the fact that the story involves a Yakuza and has a Japanese production team. Since the future is more culturally integrated, it is interesting to see a planet which stresses connections to their heritage. 

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Although from the outside it’s just Blade Runner.

The plot is actually pretty compelling, more in line with the first season of the series, while the action sequences are more science-fiction and intense like the second season. The voice acting is better in the sub than the dub, so unlike some of Netflix’s other anime, I am going to say it makes a difference. Also, while Poe is unfortunately not in this series, he’s replaced by the Ogai (Jouji Nakata) AI, who is also extremely entertaining.

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There’s a lot of sex and blood, don’t worry.

The element of the movie that I liked the most was the concept that Honor requires mortality. In the series, we see that many of the characters who are wealthy and powerful live for hundreds of years (potentially longer, but they haven’t had the technology long enough). Naturally, without the fear of actual death, these people start to devolve morally, viewing things like fidelity as pointless because eventually all emotional connections start to fade. Thus, the Yakuza, who rely on a sense of intrinsic honor to justify their practices, have to have leaders that die.

Overall, if you liked Altered Carbon, you’ll like this. You don’t need to be super familiar with the series to watch it, so if you haven’t seen it, you can still give this a try. 

If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All TimeCollection of TV EpisodesCollection of Movie Reviews, or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews.

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Netflix Mini-Review – Altered Carbon (Season 2)

Takashi Kovacs is back and, while he’s looking better than ever, his plots are more scattered. 

SUMMARY (Spoiler-Free)

Takashi Kovacs is back in a new body (Anthony Mackie) and, together with his glitchy AI companion Poe (Chris Conner), is back on Harlan’s World and offered a job in exchange for information about his love Quellcrist Falconer (Renee Elise Goldsberry). He ends up in a struggle between the governor of Harlan’s world (Lela Loren), an incipient rebellion, and a plot that is older than man’s presence on the planet. 

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Yes, the irony of Mackie’s love interest being “Falconer” doesn’t escape me.

END SUMMARY

I thought that I had reviewed the first season of this show. I didn’t realize that I never posted it, although I found that I did, in fact, write a review. Sorry, that I didn’t do a recap of the first season.

So, I’ll say the following, this season was a lot more enjoyable in many aspects than the previous one. Joel Kinnaman was a very good Takashi Kovacs for the more serious mystery arc of the last season, but Anthony Mackie is much more appropriate for this lighter, less focused, and more action-packed season. He definitely still plays like a version of the same character, but just by virtue of being played by the naturally charismatic Mackie, he comes off as more likeable and a little more charming. 

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Oh, and ripped. He’s so damned ripped.

This season has the advantage of not needing to explain a large amount of information about the world in which it takes place, but suffers from a lack of cohesion. There are a LOT of interesting ideas and subplots in this season, most of which would require spoilers, and honestly they were pretty fun to see play out, but the fact is that it’s often hard to keep track of what’s happening and why. They do a decent job of keeping many of the arcs short, which keeps the confusion down a bit, but leads to a number of instances in which it feels like the next arc is forced. It doesn’t help that there are a number of twists which seem to come out of nowhere and which also seem to violate some of the “rules” of this universe, although they ultimately still fall within the realm of the possible. 

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We do have some quality villainy, though.

The action sequences are much better, and more plentiful, in this season. They’re faster, better choreographed, and more creative, but mostly they have Anthony Mackie’s ever-present confidence and machismo behind them. Also, there’s clearly been a sizable budget increase. 

Overall, this season was easier to watch and more fun, but it feels like they shifted to episodic from serial. If you don’t mind that, you’ll like it.

If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All TimeCollection of TV EpisodesCollection of Movie Reviews, or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews.

If you enjoy these, please, like, share, tell your friends, like the Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/JokerOnTheSofa/), follow on Twitter @JokerOnTheSofa, and just generally give me a little bump. I’m not getting paid, but I like to get feedback.