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Written by: on July 14th, 2004
metropolis Metropolis
Theatrical Release Date: Japan, 2002
Director: Rintaro
Writer: Katsuhiro Ôtomo
Cast: Yuka Imoto, Kei Kobayashi, Kouki Okada

DVD Released: April 23rd, 2002
Approximate Running Time: 109 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Rating: PG-13
Sound: DTS Japanese, Dolby Digital 5.1 Japanese, Dolby Digital 5.1 English, Dolby Digital Stereo French
Subtitles: English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Chinese, Korean, Thai
DVD Release: Columbia / TriStar
Region Coding: Region 1 NTSC
Retail Price: $27.96

Synopsis: The town cheers and is in celebration over the new Ziggurat, most believe correctly that it was developed solely as a destructive piece of warfare. The president and general introduce the Ziggurat and deceptively answer the publics questions. Shunsaku, a private investigator from Japan, and nephew Ken-ichi meet Police commissioner Superintendent Notarlin searching for an Organ Smuggler, Dr. Laughton. Notarlin unable to assign him a real police officer because of the festivities instead assigns him a police robot which the detective later calls Pero. As this is taking place, cutaway to Dr. Laughton, who’s created the most advanced synthetic being to date, Tima, commitioned and physically appears to be the late daughter of Duke Red. Tima is in a cryogenic sleep as Rock, a gunslinging orphan is jealous and attempts to destroy it for “No machine will steel my fathers heart!”

During the fire at Dr. Laughton’s laboratory and unknown to Rock, Tima awakes and escapes with Ken-ichi to a level below. As work their way back to Zone-1 to Shunsaku, Ken-ichi and Tima discover more about each other. Rock rediscovers them, yet they escape his clutches as they reach Zone-1. Ken-ichi and Tima join a resistance group who want to rid of the corrupt poltiicial party who keep everyone poor and the few rich. Noble their cause yet are tricked, the military declare martial law and replacing the assassinated president with Duke Red. Ken-ichi and Tima finally find Shunsaku, but Rock’s there to stop Tima from taking another step. As Rock’s hand was on the trigger, Duke Red stops him and takes Tima away. Duke Red unveils a nefarious plan to combine the Ziggurat with Tima, which in turn eventually the world. While Duke Red only thinks of power he’ll be able to wield once his perfect progeny takes the throne, Tima’s thoughts are on Ken-ichi.

Osamu Tezuka known as the “god of manga” created prolific works like Astro Boy whose technique has been the stepping stone for modern manga. Director Rintaro who adapted Astro Boy and Kimba The White Loin to anime pleaded to direct Tezuka’s Metropolis. Tezuka refused, thinking this earlier work being amateurish. Soon after Tezuka’s death, Katshiro Otomo (best known for writing the Akira manga) brought this manga to Rintaro’s attention once more. These two synthesized a new Metropolis; breathing new air into the story, and immortalizing Tezuka by using characters from other serials by Tezuka. Mad House Animation (Ninja Scroll, A Wind Named Amnesia, Vampire Hunter D) in a 5 year, 15 million dollar production created Metropolis as a 150,000 cell animation integrating 3-dimensional backdrops with 2-dimensional characters. Metropolis, in a Film Noir setting, is a world divided. Divided between superior humans and slave robots.Dividedby Zones or Levels between the elitists above, the dregs of society in Zone-1, Zone-2 and Zone-3 are for power and sewage which are all handled by machines. There are methods to move between the Zones, some legal channels and some more “unconventional”. periodically machines revolt or “malfunction” and enter another zone. Once a political party, the Malduks are ruthless to stop any machine outside of its zone revolting without remorse. One would say they are outside of the law. The writer Katsuhiro Otomo stories varies strongly on stereotypes and archetypes, the elements united scream “Fascism.” Rock appears to be a solder of the Nazi Army and his loyally so unwavering that he’d destroy any worthless robot that crossed his path. Humans are important, and robots are treated worse than animals. The Ziggurat is symbolically the doomsday device that will destroy civilization. At times, Metropolis reminds one of another work by Otomo: Akira. Most of the scenes are setpieces and are visually powerful, thanks to the animation studio as well as the director.

The DVD:

A two disk set packed with features that are not normally found on DVD’s. Digitally Mastered Audio and Anamorphic Wide screen Video. Audio in Japanese 5.1 DTS, Japanese 5.1 Dolby Digital, English 5.1 Dolby Digital, and French. Subtitles in English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Chinese, Korean, and Thai. The trailers were unfitting for the anime, just like most major studio anime DVD releases. Disk Two is a mini DVD with Interviews, multi angle scenes of how they integrated 2-D and 3-D animation. The interview session was only 8 minutes long, unfortunately. The DVD could have used a commentary track. All of that aside, it was a much better release than most Anime DVD’s are given.

I would recommend this DVD in anyone starting or who has established an Anime Collection. Tezuka should have allowed the production of this Anime, but Otomo gave it the edge it so desperately needed. Isn’t the Akira anime of it’s time, but many of the ideas are very refreshing and unique to anime.

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