Altered Carbon is one of the most original sci-fi series of recent memory. The idea that immortality has become a plaything through digital consciousness and swapping bodies/sleeves makes for a dark and fascinating tale. From books to a Netflix show, the series continues to expand into other mediums and the latest is an anime spin-off called Resleeved.
Set as a prequel to the Netflix series, Resleeved continues the exploits of the Last Envoy Takeshi Kovac and his search for meaning in a universe of corruption, crime and death.
Taking on the Yakuza
The film begins with Kovac awakening on the planet of Latimer and getting entangled in a plot with the fearsome Mizumoto Yakuza clan. Hired by Hideki Tanesda, boss of the rival Tanesada clan to investigate the death of his brother, Kovac battles tech ninjas and cyberpunk samurai on his mission to get to the truth.
Complicating the situation is Mizumoto tattooist, Holly, who’s responsible for carrying out a sacred ritual to determine the next head of the clan. Kovac is also joined by a C-sec operative called Gina who’s got her own score to settle with the Yakuza. The trio’s relationship is at the heart of the story, with Kovac and Gina forming an attachment to Holly.
Gloriously violent animation
In true Altered Carbon style, the fight scenes are violent and bloody, ramped up even more to fit the graphic medium of anime. Some of the best sequences involve Kovac shooting his way through waves of Yakuza and coming face to face with the mastermind behind the coup in the Mizumoto clan.
All the animation work in the film deserves praise. Latimer is a glowing neon nightmare that thrums with garish red, green and purple lights. Character designs bring together the best of Japanese and Western influences. My favourite designs are the cyberpunk samurai that show a mixture of old world and futuristic technology.
The voice work is hit and miss, but the gravelly tone of Hideki Tanesda made for a great supporting character. The voice of Gina carries some emotional moments as well, hinting at a connection to Kovac.
Resleeved is a worthy addition to the Altered Carbon universe, carrying the kind of high stakes and grim consequences that makes the series so compelling. It’s suitable for viewers who’ve never seen the show without feeling like it’s leading them by the hand, and that’s an impressive balance to strike.
Altered Carbon: Resleeved is available to watch on Netflix now.