(Written by the Wachowskis, directed by Andy Jones, animation by Square Pictures)
This short (the only CGI short of the collection) directly precedes the events of The Matrix Reloaded. The crew of the human ship Osiris stumbles upon the machines as they begin burrowing to Zion. After the machines discover the Osiris, the crew tries to outrun the machines while hacking into the Matrix to deliver the news of their discovery to the Zion rebels. The story also ties in with the videogame Enter the Matrix, since one of the first missions has the player trying to retrieve the letter left by the Osiris crew.
Arc Welding: The Final Flight of the Osiris melds into Enter The Matrix, which melds into Reloaded.
Moment Killer: Thaddeus and Jue's foreplay is interrupted by an alert siren.
Sex Is Violence: The first scene —a swordfight that, by its end, is about to turn into an entire different kind of swordplay.
The Second Renaissance
(Written by the Wachowskis, directed by Mahiro Maeda, animation by Studio 4°C)
A two-part story focusing on the creation of The Matrix. After the creation of AI, the machines eventually formed their own society and tried to co-exist with humans — but were shunned for reasons of economics and prejudice. War eventually broke out and well, if you've seen the movie, you know the outcome.
Artistic License - Nuclear Physics: In The Second Renaissance, the machines are unaffected by nuclear weapons because apparently, they don't generate enough heat to damage machinery. Or the Electromagnetic Pulse that is humanity's first line of defense against the machines in the movies.
Big Applesauce: You know the world is well and truly fucked when a machine takes the floor of the United Nations, gloats over their victory, and then nukes Manhattan.
Fandisservice: There are several instances of frontal nudity, and none are under pleasant circumstances. That includes a Sex Bot who thinks she's a real person, getting beaten to "death" by a gang of people with sledgehammers.
Fantastic Racism: Part I reveals the catalyst of the entire Man-Machine war with hardworking, intelligent androids being abused and mistreated by their corrupt human masters. It gets to point where one of them actually kills his human master not wanting to be demolished, causing an outcry and mass panic triggering a worldwide eradication of machines. Several instances depicted reference and even mimic various real-life social revolutions such as the Slave Trade, the Civil Rights Movement, The Tiananmen Square Massacre and The Vietnam War.
Godzilla Threshold: Operation Dark Storm in Part II. Blocking the sun (without any attempt to undo it) means the death of vegetation and phytoplankton, which destroys the foundation for most of Earth's biosphere. Humanity was willing (without any objections and second opinions) to risk a Class 4 apocalypse just to defeat the machines.
How Do You Like Them Apples?: Invoked by the Machines in both parts of the Second Renaissance (right down to the negotiating robot holding an apple during the U.N. discussions).
The storyteller is an AI called "The Instructor", who is reading files from the Zion Mainframe and implied to be some kind of historian/teacher. It takes a middle path, saying that both the humans and the machines made terrible mistakes to create the situation.
The Instructor: May there be mercy on man and machine for their sins.
Ironic Echo: This entire storyline is based on this: pretty much every cruelty done by humans to the machines in Part I is paralleled by a similar (and often worse) cruelty by machines towards humans in Part II.
Iwo Jima Pose: There's a scene where the UN soldiers pull this off. The catch is that by that point, they were losing badly to the Machines.
What Measure Is a Non-Human?: Most of part I of The Second Renaissance is driven by the humans' refusal to accept AI as fellow sentient beings. Intentional parallels between Real Life application of such double standards to fellow humans are abound, from a court verdict ruling that black people couldn't be US citizens to a group of men beating up a young woman who turns out to be a Robot Girl.
A short set between the first movie and Reloaded. Focusing on a young kid who, like Neo before him, senses something off about his world. Making contact with Neo, he soon finds himself forced to run for his life when his unnatural intuition attracts Agents.
Driven to Suicide: The Kid breaks free of the Matrix this way. Inside the Matrix, the people were led to believe he killed himself due to being disillusioned with reality.
You Are Not Alone: In Kid's Story, The Kid feels like only he thinks reality feels less real than his dreams, which leads him to ask people on the Internet if anyone else feels the same way. In the end, the trope is invoked when someone (either Neo or another rebel) writes back: "You are not alone."
Set in the training session of a woman named Cis, set in a Feudal Era Japan program, she enters a sparring match with partner Duo, only to find he is contemplating negotiating a return to the Matrix.
All Just a Dream: When Cis defends herself and kills Duo, she finds out that she faced off against a virtual program designed to test her reaction to the situation. Even though she volunteered for the test in the first place, she still gets pissed when she finds out the truth.
Unwinnable Training Simulation: The point of the whole exercise. In the simulation, Duo traps Cis in the program, killed the crew in the real world and alerted the machines to their location. Cis can either join him, be killed by him, or be killed when the machines destroy the ship. It's a lose-lose situation either way.
(Written by Yoshiaki Kawajiri, directed by Takeshi Koeke, animation by Madhouse Studios)
This short explores the story of track runner Dan Davis, who has become obsessed with setting a world record. The story switches between the days before his race and the race itself — where Dan runs so fast, he begins to break the rules of The Matrix...
Beyond the Impossible: In World Record, Dan manages to run fast enough to cause glitches in the Matrix as it struggles to keep up with him. Even when the Matrix freezes the program, it doesn't stop him for long. He even outruns Agents!
After the Machines manage to reconnect him and make sure he can never walk again, he briefly manages to glitch gravity and begin floating.
Downer Ending: Davis escapes the matrix, but is physically (and presumably mentally) handicapped in order to incapacitate him and keep him under control.
Of course somewhere in his mind he still remembers what happened. So this bit of entrapment might not last for very long.
Worthy Opponent: An Agent actually gives Dan props for successfully outrunning him.
(Written and directed by Koji Morimoto, animation by Studio 4°C)
Within the Matrix, Japanese teenager Yoko searches for her lost cat, and during her search, she discovers a "haunted house" where physics don't seem to apply — but her discovery does not go unnoticed by the Matrix.
Haunted House: Yoko and several children in Beyond discover a "haunted house". A glitch in the Matrix causes all of the weird phenomena in the house. They spend so much time playing there-one of the glitches was a room where gravity didn't work properly-that the Agents finally catch on and fix the place.
No Ending: The agents and cleanup team repair the building. Yoko and the kids return to normal life. However the final shot sees a bottle slowly roll on it's own to where the old building used to be. Meaning the "glitch" might not be completely gone.
A Detective Story
(Written and directed by Shinichiro Watanabe, animation by Studio 4°C)
Cyberpunk meets Film Noir in a tale about modern-day Private Detective Ash, whose newest job — to find the elusive Trinity — gets more dangerous as he tries his best to get a lead on her. Carrie-Anne Moss delivers the voice of her Trinity in her animated form.
Bittersweet Ending: Ash solves the case and even helps Trinity, but she is forced to fatally wound him to stop the agents controlling him. Leaving him behind, Trinity apologizes but remarks that Ash could probably have handled the truth had they made it.
Eye Scream: The Agents planted a bug in Ash's eye. Trinity removes it without destroying his eye.
Worthy Opponent: Despite having a gun pointed at them, an Agent stops another from finishing Ash, presumably because he managed to reach Trinity intact.
(Written and directed by Peter Chung, animation by DNA)
This short follows a group of above-ground human rebels as they attempt to brainwash a captured machine so it will fight for humanity.
Downer Ending: The re-programed machine destroys the machines that attack the base. But all the rebels die before then. And when he tries to plug the consciousness of the last remaining and slowly dying one into virutal reality. She rejects him and chooses to die instead. Leaving the machine by himself.
Heel-Face Turn: Granted it through brainwashing but one of the machines goes through this.
Ironic Echo: Despite the lampshaded pointlessness, the machines are given the illusion of a choice between joining the humans or being destroyed, directly paralleling the blue/red pill choice the free humans are given.