Saturday, September 14, 2002

Metropolis (Osamu Tezuka's)

Genre: Dark / Sci-Fi / Cyberpunk
General Audience
2001 Animation Studio: Mad House ~ Conceptual Support: Tezuka Productions
Manga by: Osamu Tezuka ~ Screenplay: Katsuhiro Otomo ~ Directed by: RINTARO

Metropolis DVDs
Metropolis Art Books & Manga
Everything Metropolis

Nib's Description:
At the heart of mankind's most technologically advanced haven, an ambitious plan by an influential leader, Duke Red, is about to unfold which will enslave the world under the rule of the most advanced robot ever created - Tima. His son Rock however, shares the people's hatred of robots, and is intent on destroying Tima. While chaos unfolds Tima finds herself befriending Kenichi, the young nephew of a Japanese detective. As Duke Red struggles to fulfill his plans, the two are separated, and now Tima's life is in danger ~ as well as the fate of all mankind.

Another cheesy, ambitious masterpiece...a masterpiece nonetheless. >>> by Nib

Metropolis is one of those ambitious, vastly-themed animes which, fortunately perhaps for most fans who've been wanting to see it, fulfills nearly all the expectations and deserves most of the hype it gets. The robots vs. humans theme, as well as the issues and rather fictional anxieties alongside it may have been exhausted by nearly every science fiction author. But strangely enough, Katsuhiro Otomo's brilliant, awe-inspiring screenplay (it's inevitable to get that "Akira" feel when you watch some scenes in Metropolis, by the way) masterfully combined with Rintaro's riveting direction of Metropolis may yet convince the viewer that there's more to Metropolis than an over-used sci-fi theme. If this still fails to please the considerable population of skeptical anime viewers out there (and we all know how hard it is to please such), then at least the meticulously rendered and well-choreographed CG scenes, combined with a soundtrack that perfectly complements the highlights and key events of this anime, is guaranteed to at least appeal to everyone's viewing and listening pleasure.

However if you're looking for a character-driven story you may find that Metropolis fails to deliver it for you. This anime is more plot/theme-driven. It's quite solidly written with nicely placed emotional scenes for character endearment and build-up, and with very few confounding loopholes. On the downside for the earlier part, the plot might feel cheesy and Disney-ish (maybe the art has something to do with it). But it's quite harmless once you've seen the whole story. Sadly, its characters, while actually doing justice to the story, fail to leave an impression after watching Metropolis. It's as if the characters are firmly set on fulfilling their roles in the story and any individual trait, perk, quirk or lasting impression of any extraordinary characteristic of theirs is absent. Simply put, they're very square. And traditional. There's really nothing new but stereotypical roles (friendly and non-friendly robots included). On one hand, in order for a plot-driven story to be really cohesive and effective, perhaps it is best to follow formula roles. There still are however, touching and inspiring personal moments by each character, and as the story progresses the viewer will eventually embrace every cheesy bit of them.

Most viewers who've been used to rather anatomically perfect and/or sometimes exaggerated physiques featured in most contemporary animes might not readily appreciate Tezuka's ballooning limbs. In fact, it's the only reason I gave it an art/animation rating of 9. Anything else (eye-candy CG included) is neat to look at though - nothing looks like it was rushed.

I gave a 10 for the sounds because like I said, it was perfect for Metropolis. There's just something about how 60's (maybe even 50's or 40's and please pardon my ignorance). American tunes were used in this anime to make the scenes reaaaaally stick to your mind. And if you're fond of hearing old sentimental music being played along with scenes of mass destruction (remember that LCL scene in End of Evangelion where Komm, Suser Tod was playing?) and anything else with the same hint of irony, you're sure to dig this.

I would've given Metropolis an overall rating of 9 simply because of the reason that its story is nothing new, but what finally convinced me to give it a 10 was that familiar experience of a show leaving an impression on your mind and a question that will leave you pondering for some time. The maxim at the very beginning of the show, "Every epoch dreams its successor" by Jules Michelet should encourage much reflection after one has seen Metropolis. I leave it to the viewer as to which questions are to be thought upon.

Ah well...guess there's still something to be said about old sci-fi themes. Perhaps, it really is just a matter of storytelling and execution.

Individual Rating: Art/Animation 9; Story 10; Characters 8; Sounds 10

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