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Stacked with hardcore anime action and buckets of blood, Netflix's Altered Carbon: Resleeved is a hyper-violent new anime feature set in the same universe as Richard K. Morgan's cyberpunk novels, as well as both seasons of the live-action Altered Carbon TV series.
**Spoiler Alert: This story contains spoilers for Altered Carbon: Resleeved.**
Resleeved premiered on March 19 and is an enveloping addition to the franchise, enhancing the deep mythology and timeline in myriad ways. The 74-minute, R-rated prequel was written by Dai Satō (Cowboy Bebop, Ghost in the Shell), with character designs by manga artist Yasuo Ōtagak and directed by Takeru Nakajima and Yoshiyuki Okadaacts.
It's a perfect tonic for those eager for more jacked-in, needlecast, body-swapping action (until we hear any news about a possible Altered Carbon Season 3) — and SYFY WIRE has all the hidden references and subtle tie-ins to the series.
In Resleeved, our hero Takeshi Kovacs finds himself in a new military sleeve equipped with heightened reflexes 300 years before the events of Altered Carbon Season 2. He’s been needlecast to the planet Latimer to help Yakuza boss Tanaseda Hideki investigate the murder of his younger brother, a member of the Mizumoto clan. And why is Kovacs agreeing to this? Well, Tanaseda is influential enough to erase Kovacs’ tarnished record on Harlan’s World in return as payment should he succeed in discovering the truth.
The story follows Kovacs in his slick new body trying to protect a young tattoo artist named Holly Togram from the Mizumoto syndicate while on his infiltration mission for Tanaseda. Also on board is a brash CTAC agent named Gena, who's really Takeshi’s sister Reileen Kawahara in a different sleeve he doesn’t recognize. At this point in the overarching narrative, Kovacs still believes his sister was killed with Quellcrist Falconer in the Protectorate's viral attack at Stronghold a year earlier.
Many elements of this multi-generational melodrama might have easily gotten lost in translation so enjoy this rewind. Ninjas, suicide tattoos, and man-thongs? Oh, my!
Let's take a spin and unpack seven elusive details...
1) PLANET LATIMER
Altered Carbon: Resleeved takes place on a thriving world called Latimer where Kovacs needlecasts into the body of Ken Kakura. The Latimer system is mentioned at the end of Morgan's sequel to Altered Carbon, Broken Angels, and is where the remaining Carrera's Wedge team is given safe passage to.
Morgan, who lives in England, may have named this planet after the 16th-century Protestant bishop who advanced the cause of the Reformation in England via his vigorous preaching. He was burned at the stake, emphasizing the political subjugation inflicted by the Protectorate and the need for emboldened heroes.
Genzou is the gruff Mizumoto boss nearing the end of his command over his clan and awaiting the succession ceremony that will end his life. In Japanese, the word "genzou" can be translated as "warehouse," alluding to the fact that his capacious body is simply a vessel for his consciousness.
3) BOTTLE BACK SHACK CIGARETTES
Kovacs' sleeve is often paired with an intense nicotine addiction as seen in Elias Ryker's body from the book and Season 1 of the TV series. Here, in the Ken Kakura sleeve, he's chain-smoking like there's a serious shortage of tomorrows and pulls cigarettes from a bright pack of Bottle Back Shacks emblazoned with the colorful image of a hungry shark. In Japan, a ferocious storm god named shark-man or Samebito represents fierceness, stamina, and strength, all traits mirrored in Kovacs' Envoy training.
Ogai is the sagacious A.I. proprietor of the Mizumoto clan's posh hotel headquarters called The Wild Geese and acts in the same way as Kovacs' Poe does in The Raven and The Nevermore. Though you might not have guessed, Ogai is actually voiced by actor Chris Conner, who plays Kovacs' A.I. sidekick, Poe, in both seasons of the Netflix show. When the hotel sustains a certain level of gunfire damage, prepare to duck!
5) THE BON NIGHTCLUB
The Bon is the techno-drenched dance club compound with a needlecasting facility in which Kovacs drops into his new Kakura sleeve. The name "Bon" refers to a Japanese Buddhist custom honoring the spirits of one's ancestors.
This Buddhist-Confucian custom has transformed into a family reunion holiday in which people return to ancestral places and clean their ancestors' graves when those spirits revisit household altars. It's been celebrated in Japan for over 500 years and traditionally includes a dance, known as Bon Odori. Themes of tradition, family, and honor are all interspersed throughout Resleeved's narrative with these allusions to Japanese culture. The Mizumoto's rite of succession unveils a sinister swap-out based on a horrible family secret that unfolds like a ceremonial dance.
6) THE PATCHWORK MAN
Acting as both a metaphor for resleeving psychosis and the implications of using biomaterial from the tissues of dead persons to construct synthetic sleeves, this disturbing tale was first introduced while young Kovacs and his sister Reileen paged through a gruesome picture book. Inside, a Frankenstein's monster-like creature is cobbled together by a deranged man called Mad Mykola, a miller who made the "Patchwork Man" only to have his wretch come alive and kill him. Mykola serves as a substitute for Kovacs' abusive, violent father.
Throughout the series, viewers are reminded of this rhyme as a bond between brother and sister. In Resleeved, the CTAC officer named Gena (actually Reileen) hears Kovacs reciting the lyrics to The Patchwork Man song and instantly realizes who he is. The horrifying book and accompanying tune is also a nod to Mary Shelley's Frankenstein. That seminal sci-fi novel's subtitle, The Modern Prometheus, refers to the Greek antihero who steals fire from the gods and pays the price. It reminds us of mankind's scientific nature to overreach and its obsessive desire to conquer life, immortality, and attain god-like status like the Meths. Ready, everybody? Sing!...
He'll chop off your limbs
And rip off your skin
And sew your pieces onto him
Stay at home, don't go out alone
Or the Patchwork Man will crack your bones
Or the Patchwork Man will crack your bones
7) THE BEGINNING OF A BEAUTIFUL FRIENDSHIP
In Altered Carbon Season 2, Anthony Mackie's Kovacs encounters an older Tanaseda back on Harlan's World. The venerable Yakuza boss recounts to his clan how he owes a debt to Kovacs for an earlier job. Resleeved depicts the start of that relationship and it's the impetus to what leads to Kovacs never revealing his connection to Tanaseda despite being arrested and tortured.
At the end of Resleeved, Kovacs learns that his job for clemency isn't over and that Tanaseda has another gig for him. Since Kovacs wasn't imprisoned yet, we realize this next mission is most likely the one that gets him nabbed, thus setting up a nice sequel scenario. This is all still decades before Kovacs is captured by Jaeger and put on ice. We've yet to learn where Kovacs first obtains his trademark "Ouroboros" tattoo of a snake eating its tail, and it just might be Holly, the freed Yakuza inker, who provided the service!