Review of 'Metropolis (Metoroporisu)'

metropolis.jpg Metroplis is a visually stunning display of Japanese animation with a wonderful jazz soundtrack. Set in a future where robots are expendable slaves to the people of the city, the story opens with a celebration of the opening of an incredible skyscraper the “Ziggurat” which has been built by the billionaire Duke Red (voiced by Tarô Ishida). Private detective Shunsaku Ban (voiced by Tony Pope) and his nephew Kenichi (voiced by Kei Kobayashi) have come to Metropolis to arrest Dr. Laughton (voiced by Junpei Takiguchi) but are too late. The doctor has been killed by Rock (voiced by Michael Reisz), the adopted son of the Duke who jealous when he learns the mad doctor has been making a robot daughter, Tima (voiced by Yuka Imoto), for his father. When Tima is rescued by Kenichi the two grow attached to one another, however, time is short as a revolt is brewing of Metropolis' underclass against the elite with the Duke pouring fuel on the flames…

An amazing piece of animation to watch with an incredibly realised and detailed vision of a art-deco futuristic metropolis (as seen from the 30s-40s) with a suitably apt jazz soundtrack. Metropolis is based on one of Osamu Tezuka's (probably best known for his “Astro Boy” series) early manga pieces from 50 years ago with the characters sharing his comic's cartoon-ish style though it jars slightly with the hyper-realistic looking backgrounds after a while it seems to come together quite magically. Careful here though, like much anime, this is not a child's film. Cartoon though the characters may be there is often quite personal violence aplenty and some quite complex themes in the film. The film-makers here readily admit that Tesuka, were he alive today, would never have agreed to the making of this movie not because he was afraid of what it would end up looking like or the quality of the directors but rather in being ashamed with his the original, rather simple, manga. Here that original story is stretched to a full-on exploration of morality and power in a future “utopia”.

The jazz music and soundtrack takes a bit of getting used to and I think it is often a bit misplaced such as “I can't stop loving you” oddly playing over a scene of mass destruction - I guess I just don't get it.

Don't get me wrong, this is not an entirely serious film. There is plenty of humour and some fun, adorable, characters such as “Fi-fi”, a garbage robot that continually makes cooing sounds that is oddly endearing though often is the subject for much physical abuse. The cartoon-like style of the characters come into play here with large, emotive eyes that evoke empathy and make them all the more “cute”.

Looks great, sounds great, and resonates some deep moral truths while more than a bit of fun at the same time.

Rating: “Nearly perfect, but not quite”

Review Date: 2019-10-06

Directed by: Shigeyuki Hayashi

Studio: Bandai Visual Company

Year: 2001

Length: 108 minutes

Genre: Japanese Animation