Metropolis
Anime
Genre:
Sci-Fi/Drama
Grade
A

Based on the comic by Osamu Tezuka, Metropolis is set in a world of promise and technology. The world of Metropolis is an unusual take on the Neo-Tokyo look that most cities in anime take. While the world is built on a futurisitic, high technology model, its basic underlying design is of a turn-of-the-century/early 20th century motif. The clothes and design of the buildings have the old American look to them and enhanced zepplins patrol the skies.

At the beginning, we see a celebration commemorating the completion of the monumental ziggurat, an immense building at the heart of the city funded and developed by Duke Red, a man with alterior motives. Under his employ are the Marduk, a group of anti-robot enforcers of the city. At the same time, Japanese detective Shunsaku Ban and Kenichi come to Metropolis to find Dr. Laughton, who is wanted for his experiments. Unknown to them, Laughton is under the employ of Duke Red, who is having him make an artificial life patterned after his own deceased daughter.

Rock, the Duke's right hand man who thinks of Duke Red as his own father, discovers the doctor and his experiment. Through his own motives he kills the doctor and burns down the warehouse. Kenichi, who is nearby at the time, rushes in and saves a young woman, who he later finds out to be named Tima. Kenichi and Tima are chased through the lower levels of the city by Rock. The events of the story unfold into revolution and betrayal and once Tima discovers her true purpose, the destruction of Metropolis seems inevitable.

Metropolis is a visual masterpiece. The locations are a blend of computer generated technology and hand-painted areas that glow with ambience and character. Every scene is packed with and abundance of detail. The turn-of-the-century look really ads personality that distinguishes the title from others in it's genre. And, to add a stark contrast to the backgrounds, the characters are drawn with a soft cartoony aspect to them, much like an anime version of the Katzenjammer Kids. Personality is not limited by the animation style a the story ads a fair amount of depth to the characters.

The music continues the turn-of-the-century concept by using a good bit of old jazz and big band motifs throughout. And when not using the stylized music, the symphony aspect of the music really helps in breaking out this movie from the standard anime fare. Voice acting is good, and regular anime viewers will hear a lot of familiar voices in the cast.

For anyone interested in not just seeing good anime, but a finely crafted animated film, Metropolis is worth the effort to track down and watch. The story is well conceived and executed with style.

- - Vane

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