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
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.