February 9, 2006
Directed by: Rintaro
Written by: Osamu Tezuka, Katsuhiro Ôtomo
Degree of Cyberpunk Visuals: High
Correlation to Cyberpunk Themes: High
Key Cast Members:
Overview: Metropolis is a wonderful anime that, while it shares the same name as a far more famous movie, it is in fact a different story altogether. In this story, also set in an astoundingly beautiful futuristic city, with three tiers of inhabitants – the elite, the human working class, and all the way at the bottom, the slave-like robots. The powerful corporate leader who runs Metropolis, Duke Red, has created a structure called the Ziggurat, a huge tower designed to control all information and machines in the world. To make this possible, he hires Dr. Laughton, a genius criminal scientist to make a an super-android focal point of the Ziggurat, who is designed in the image of his daughter.
Fortunately for the world, their plans are disrupted when Shinsaku Ban, a detective from Japan, and his nephew Kenichi, arrive to track down and capture Dr. Laughton. They disrupt the “birthing” of the super-android, called Tima, and destroy the lab. In the ensuing chaos, Kenichi finds Tima, and thinking her human, rescues her from the destruction. They become separated from Separated from his uncle, and begin a journey of discovery in the lower levels of Metropolis.
Eventually, Duke Red learns that his super-android is alive and well, and dedicates everything to catch her. Over the course of the movie, Tima begins to learn her true nefarious purpose, while at the same time, begins to fall in love with Kinichi. This becomes a story of questioning what is humanity, and whether robots can be loved and treated like humans, or whether they are machines to be used for our purposes.
The Visuals and Sound: The visuals in metropolis are both varied and often astounding. We get a wonderful mix of 2D-3D graphics – unlike most movies, they are definitely weighted towards the 2D side. And I love how Metropolis makes the change in colors from almost a pastel-type opening to dark and dirty colors as the movie progresses. This is very similar to how Transmetropolitan does it in graphic novels. The characters are done in an interesting style, with almost completely round heads. This is disconcerting at first, but eventually you get used to it. And top top if off, we get some of the most wonderful use fo music in an anime. Some of the old fashioned Jazz tunes in here create a wonderful retro-type mood that really seems to fit.
The Bottom Line: Metropolis is a terrific little anime, although I would have liked to have seen a few parts of the script flushed out a bit more. Still, I love the movie, but it’s the ending that makes it for me. Tima’s question at the end pretty much sums up the purpose of the movie. This is a really nice exploration into the nature of humanity thing from a cyberpunk film standpoint.
Tags: cyberpunk movie review anime metropolis