Sunday, December 9, 2012


Metropolis; animated science-fiction drama, Japan, 2001; D: Rintaro, S: Kei Kobayashi, Yuka Imoto, Kohki Okada, Kosei Tomita

In the huge city of Metropolis, the rich Duke Red presents his newly built tower with whom he secretly plans to rule the world. He plans to leave the throne to Tima, an android that is an exact replica of his daughter, built in Laughton's laboratory. But Rock, Duke's adopted son, destroys the laboratory because of jealousy. Tima is found by Kenichi, the nephew of detective Shinsaku from Japan. Kenichi falls in love with Kima. But she is regained by Duke who fires Rock. Once on the throne, Tima has a short circuit and destroys the tower and herself.

There are movies that are easily dismissed for their misplaced or misguided over-ambitiousness, but how can you do that with the anime movie "Metropolis", which is patchwork? The legendary Osamu Tezuka wrote a manga in '49 based only on his fascination with the robot from Lang's "Metropolis", while the anime movie adaptation was directed by Rintaro 53 years later, wherein he decided to take Tezuka's original naive-simplified art design of the characters and combine them with the modern, detailed art design of the 21st century: the result was a "Frankenstein" like blend that is even more uneven than some of Leiji Matsumoto's achievements, that seems as if cartoon characters from the 50s got lost in a modern animated movie (the detective has eyes drawn just like two black dots whereas Duke Red has a nose as huge as half of head), aggravated further by sometimes unfitting music. Still, if the viewers can get use to it, the sole story is intriguing, filled with allegories on racism (robots vs. humans) and cold war, but also the search for family and a place you belong to, embodied in the graceful android heroine Tima. The storyline is not entirely sure all the time, yet it shines the most in inspired details and situations, like when it is revealed that robots are not allowed to have names because it is considered an insult to humans or the sequence where Rock wants to harm Tima with a laser, but does not succeed because the detective turns off the electricity. Overall, an exciting futuristic adventure with a few aesthetic images.



Christopher Sobieniak said...

Though not to be picky here, but the poster you used for your entry happens to be from the Korean release, rather than from Japan given the differences in the writing I noticed.

Marin Mandir said...

Yes, I know, I just decided to put the Korean version out of a whim, as to not always have the Japanese one when commenting on an anime.