Anime loosely based of Osamu Tezuka's manga about a young boy and his detective uncle who leave Japan to visit Metropolis, in search of the criminal but are thrown into a larger conspiracy surrounding a mysterious girl created by their target.
Japanese detective Shunsaku Ban arrives in the mega-city Metropolis, accompanied by his nephew Kenichi-their mission, to arrest renegade scientist Dr. Laughton. But Laughton has friends in high places; he has been hidden away by the industrialist Duke Red, who wants him to create the final part of his Ziggurat super-skyscraper-a living robot who can rule the world from the throne secretly installed in its heights. While the Japanese visitors look for Laughton, Red's embittered stepson Rock hunts him for his own reasons, while Red's agents encourage the impoverished human city dwellers to revolt against their masters. When Dr. Laughton is killed, his robot creation Tima goes on the run through the warrens of the city, unaware of who-or what-she really is.
Osamu Tezuka began work on Metropolis when he was 15, and when it was finally published in 1949 he was still a teenager. Although he had not seen Fritz Lang's movie of the same name, he was inspired by a magazine article about it, including an image of the movie's famous robot-woman, Maria. He wondered what life would be like in a city of the future where robots would do all of the work (compare to the similar Armitage III), postulating a disaffected underclass of jobless humans, open to suggestion from anarchist agitators.
Metropolis was the middle part of a sci-fi manga trilogy, beginning with Tezuka's manga Lost World (1948), in which Shunsaku and Kenichi were searching for energy-bearing meteorites and stranded on Earth's rogue twin planet. After Metropolis, they would return in the Cold War thriller Next World (1951, see Fumoon), in which the Earth is threatened by a giant dust cloud. The character of Tima (named Michy in the original) was an early try-out for Tezuka's most famous creation, the super-robot Astro Boy.
Mixing elegant computer graphics with the squat, cartoony characters of Tezuka's original, Metropolis is an excellent introduction, not only to Japan's greatest manga artist, but also the latest developments in anime. The crew is simply stellar, with direction by X: The Movie's Rintaro, and other jobs filled by Hiroyuki Okiura (Jin-Roh), Yoshiaki Kawajiri (Ninja Scroll), and Kunihiko Sakurai (Final Fantasy). Almost everyone who is anyone in the anime business seems to have been involved-the film even credits Devilman-creator Go Nagai as a guest voice actor, and the director himself moonlights as a bass clarinetist in the jazz band!
Of particular note is screenwriter Katsuhiro Otomo, who, like all manga artists, owes an incredible debt to Tezuka, and one which he openly acknowledged with a dedication that closed the Akira manga (dropped from the English release). In Metropolis we see many similarities-a city held for ransom by a terrorist group secretly funded by a corrupt politician, a great construction venture with a hidden purpose, and a child unaware it has the power to destroy the world. Metropolis also shares Akira's explosive finale, involving the destruction of a considerable amount of urban real estate-the film was originally scheduled for an American release in late 2001, but was delayed several months after the September 11th terrorist attacks. Added for this movie version is a tip of the hat to Blade Runner, in the form of Duke Red's Ziggurat skyscraper-in the original manga, the secret project was to control the proliferation of sunspots and solar flares, of which only a small vestige remains in the movie.
Metropolis is a sumptuous film, loaded with homages to Fritz Lang and Tezuka himself-best displayed by a title sequence of an airship flying over a fireworks display in the city, while a jazz party gets into full swing. It is an evocative window into the work of manga's greatest artist, retaining both his child-like character designs and his bitingly serious plotting-even in Tezuka's own lifetime, many anime adaptations of his work tried to have one without the other. Suspiciously, it also contains a lot of CG work similar to early footage from Otomo's long-delayed Steam Boy project-was this a way of realizing some of the costs for that other movie? Ironically, some of the computer graphics seem to come at the expense of more traditional techniques-certain painted cel backgrounds lack the three-dimensional immediacy of their CG counterparts and end up looking just like, well, paintings. In 1949, Tezuka closed his Metropolis manga with a question-"Will mankind destroy itself by developing technology too far?" One could well ask the same of the anime industry-as in the earlier Macross Plus, there is something ironic in a film that questions the value of new technology, when so much of its production rests upon it.
|Shunsaku Ban ( x ) ( x ) ( x )||
|Shinji Hashimoto||Key Animator||Key Animator on X, Perfect Blue, Paprika, Milennium Actress, and other films and series.|
|Yasuhiro Nakura||Character Artist/Designer|
|Osamu Tezuka||Original Concept||Known as the "godfather of manga," Osamu Tezuka is Japan's most prolific manga creator to date with over 700 original series to his name. Tezuka is widely credited for pushing the medium to its mainstream popularity after World War II.|
|Release Date:||Jan. 25, 2002|
|Release Date:||May 26, 2001|
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