Tuesday, December 30, 2014


Metropolis was originally a German silent film from 1927. At the time, it was the most expensive movie in the world, and the first feature-length science fiction film. Though some of the content was questioned at the time and it recieved mixed reviews, it was widely regarded as a classic and a massive leap forward for the genre. This inspired Osamu Tezuka to make his 1949 manga based off the movie, which in turn was made into the movie we have today in 2001.

Even disconnected from the parent work, the movie is beautiful.

Metropolis opens with us seeing daily life in the massive city of Metropolis, a city where humans and robots live together, with one above and one below. One of the city's elite, a real estate magnate and engineer named Duke Red, is about to unveil his latest and greatest addition to the city's architecture, the Ziggurat. Elsewhere, PI Shunsaku Ban and his nephew Kenichi arrive in the city from Japan, tracking an international criminal named Dr. Laughton. Later on, Duke Red goes to see this exact criminal to inquire about a secret project he was commissioning, a made-to-order robot girl named Tima. However, after a moment of sabotague, Laughton's lab burns to the ground. Shunsaku was on the scene to arrest him, but unfortunately fails, leaving Laughton dead and his work gone. But where is Kenichi? And what happened to Tima?


Like its predecessor, the 2001 movie was a juggernaut for the sci-fi genre, so much so that it was actually played on the old Sci-Fi channel in the US several times. However, Tezuka never actually saw the movie, so the plot of both the comic and the animated film differ greatly from the 1927 version. The two share the name, art style and genre only; beyond this, they're more of standalone works.


The art style, keeping in line with the original film, was quite retro for the period (a delight for someone like me who's into that), and vaguely reminded me of a 3-way combo of the 00's reboot of Cyborg 009, The Big O, and Kaiba. It holds to the original era in that the buildings are all very art deco and modernesque, while the characters scream out Tezuka's classic style of big, rounded characters, eyes, limbs, and hands, something very typical of anime and manga of the 50's and 60's. The result is a weird sort of future-nostalgia, nouveau-retro, though it works beautifully.

Not all of it was done in CG. It appears mainly the surface was, due to the detail it had.

Keeping along with the 20's theme, every track on there was some form of jazz, be it smooth, freeform, or swing. It evokes in me an excitement of the period I get when I listen to Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue, which in itself would fit in fine on this soundtrack.  It compliments the background nicely, however given the plot I'd say that were it not for the buildings almost any sort of music could have fit. It seems a bit like a colouring book in that regard. The music would have been influenced by what the writers decided to draw in the background.

The Picture of Excess~

The movie was a touch long, but was otherwise quite engaging and worth the watch. I really felt for the characters and their plight (except for that psycho Rock), unlike some sci-fi themed works where the characters are all just stock red-shirts that can be changed out like socks. I will say that, due to some shootouts and a possibly disturbing image or two, you probably shouldn't show this to little kids, but children over 10 should be fine. There isn't really much to understand here (nothing to make it quintessentially "anime", such as a schoolgirl plot or giant robots or anything), so there shouldn't be much problem showing to almost any demographic.

I'm not sure which series influenced which series (Tezuka to Cyborg 009?), but they all look like each other.

Metropolis saw several US showings and releases, including airtime on both Sci-Fi and Adult Swim. It was released on VHS , and is currently available on DVD in the US as well. Elsewhere, you can easily find torrents with a google search.



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