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Osamu Tezuka was a highly-regarded manga and anime artist, probably best known as the creator of Astro Boy and Kimba, the White Lion, but prior to these he created Metropolis.
Metropolis (2001. 1 hr, 47 min, 21 sec) is an anime science fiction film directed by Rintaro. The film is a loose adaptation of Fritz Lang’s 1927 film. The film stars Toshio Furukawa, Scott Weinger and Yuka Imoto.
Like Lang’s film, Metropolis is the story of the construction of a humanoid robot. In Lang’s version, the robot nearly led the workers to destruction. The robot was created at the behest of the cities ruler and built by a mad scientist. She was to replace Hel, a lost love of the scientist's life. In the new Metropolis, the main plot point remains similar, but in this case Duke Red intends to place a replica of his lost daughter, Tima, at the head of the Ziggurat, a skyscraper capable of controlling or destroying the world the world.
What Red Duke has not considered is the jealousy of his adopted son, Rock. He belongs to an elite fighting group whose job is to destroy malfunctioning robots, but his zeal for his work borders on racism. When he discovers what his step-father proposes, he tries to destroy the lab in which she is being created.
The plan would have worked had it not been for the intervention of Kenichi, who has travelled with his detective uncle, Shunsaku Ban, to arrest Dr. Laughton, the creator of Tima. Rescuing Tima from the fire in the lab, Kenichi and Tima go on the run, chased by an increasingly unhinged Rock.
The DVD comes with an extensive ‘making of’ feature, The Making of Osamu Tezuka’s Metropolis (33 min, 14 sec) with contribution from the film's creators. The featurette contains many shots of the film being created.
Filmakers Interviews (8 min, 03 sec) has some vignettes from the writer and director, discussing the film. Animation Comparisons has two pieces, City View and Wheel Room which lets you alternate between the rough drawings and the finished product. The disc also contains the original Theatrical Trailer (1 min, 41 sec) and a Promotional Trailer (2 min, 17 sec).
There are four audio tracks to choose from including a Japanese and English 5.1 and Stereo track. It’s nice to have the option even though the film is not the sort to make a great difference with the 5.1 track. There are also three subtitle tracks, the original English translation, the translation from the US release and a new English dubbed audio.
Although there is an amount of film grain evident from the original print, the colour saturation and detail remains good.
The film is notable for a number of things. On the plus side the stylised animation is truly sumptuous and the New Orleans jazz soundtrack give the film a distinctive identity of its own. On the down side the film is not unlike Dune (1984), both share the issue of having to condense a much larger body of work making the narrative a bit disconnected.
It might sound odd, given that they are at the centre of the story, but we don’t spend enough time with Tima and Kenichi to really come to an understanding with their growing relationship or the reason for Rock's manic dislike of Tima.
That said, the film is an impressive piece of work, well worth adding to anyone’s anime collection.
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