Review
Fragile Machine
© Aoineko
Brett D. Rogers · August 13, 2005 | The most ambitious project by the Aoineko artist collective to date, Fragile Machine follows the tragic path of Leda Nea, a scientist at the Göln Remedios laboratory who, driven by the death of her young daughter, volunteers herself as a test subject in a series of experiments designed to mesh human and machine.

The experiments end in catastrophe, leaving Leda's body destroyed. Undeterred in its drive to manufacture life, Göln Remedios grafts Leda's soul to a fabricated body, plunging her into an uncertain purgatory between life and death.

Guided by the occasional words of a narrator doll, Fragile Machine wraps the audience in a fascinating CG landscape in which Leda lives by her instinct to flee and struggles to rediscover her place among nature. Fragile Machine's delivery of the themes of human-machine conflict and lost identity is heavy-handed at times, but the film's visual appeal more than compensates for its thematic shortcomings.

Anime has had an undeniable influence on Fragile Machine's look and feel, and its presence is most felt in the film's post-modern approach. Far from just homage to anime, the film is a well-styled piece of visual and audio cyberpunk, setting lessons learned from Blade Runner, Ghost in the Shell and Metropolis to a beat.

Fragile Machine
Aoineko, 2005
Directed by Ben Steele
34 minutes

Official Fragile Machine website

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The lugubrious vocals of X, Aoineko's resident vocalist, weave through the rich texture of Ben Steele's CG renderings to form a striking composition. Fragile Machine has given sound and sight equal weight to achieve a higher plane of music video. It's a difficult task to make music and animation waltz together in a way that doesn't force one to dance the lead, but this short film pulls it off.

The attention to detail and lush layering in Fragile Machine shows Aoineko is no ordinary purveyor of underground animation. As the festival circuit sits up and takes notice, this film will continue to attract attention as a noteworthy piece of creator-driven animation.
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