Metropolis (Metoroporisu) (2001)

2002_metropolis_wallpaper_0Based on the comic book by Osamu Tezuka, we visit Metropolis, a humongous city where high-class humans roam free and robots toil and work underground occasionally surfacing illegally. We meet detective Shunsaku Ban and Ken-ichi two people searching for a scientist performing illegal experiments with robots. This is probably one of the most unusual anime movies I have ever seen. The entire animated sequence and character designs closely resemble the works of legendary animator Ralph Bakshi (Cool World, and Fritz the Cat). No two characters in this movie look alike and no two characters seem alike. Many people who hear about this seems to think this movie is an animated Japanese remake of the 1929 Fritz Lang “Metropolis”.

Though, at times, this movie comes really close, it’s not. It’s creator Ozamu Tezuka’s version of “Metropolis.” The entire movie is very well done with excellent animated characters along with incredibly backdrops. Metropolis is a futuristic city of god-like proportions with incredible skyscrapers and towers. One of the things that astonished me most about this was the huge beast-like floats that fly all through the skies of the city. This has a very noir feel as the movie bears a tone of the 1930’s yet seems very futuristic. Throughout the entire movie, old time music plays while many of the characters seem to struggle through their ordeals. Zintaro can easily make this movie change tones as it tends to go from bright and cheery to dark gloomy in literally nano-seconds. This is truly a marvel for the eyes.

Unfortunately, as this movie is a joy in visuals, it’s a let-down plot-wise. The entire movie tends to be slow-paced and at times very dull. The movie will go as long as twenty minutes without even a shred of interesting events or excitement happening. What keeps this movie from truly becoming a masterpiece is the lack of character depth and or emphasis. The entire movie has an interesting and vast array of assorted characters yet fails to truly make them unique. We have a robot detective named Pero who teams up with the two main characters yet is never truly emphasized on as a character.  We have Rock, a young heartless killer who vies for attention from his father, Red Duke yet is never truly shown to the movie, we have detective Shunsaku Ban who at times I was never really sure whether or not he was as helpless a character as he made himself out to be.

I would have liked to see more of him and learn more about his past, but this doesn’t follow through. We also have Duke Red, the resident villain of the movie who seems menacing and intimidating but they never give us time to hate him because of the fact that he’s barely in the movie and when he is he’s just not life-like. Most of all, or should I say worst of all, we have Tima; the ultimate robot android created as a super-computer for the city to sit at the throne atop the entire city and rule over earth. She’s never truly sure if she’s a robot or not but we’re never told why. We get no true emphasis on her personality or spirit and we never get to like or relate to her because she’s so wooden and meaningless for a pivotal character in the movie.

I never got the chance to truly feel sorry for her so I never felt the point of it. One of the main characters Ken-ichi, Shunsaku’s nephew, once again is never truly focused on. He forms a relationship with Tima and they become friends but we never get to see that relationship or feel anything towards the two. We get the distinction or hint that Ken-ichi may have fell in love with her, but it’s just a guess because the creator’s never let us in. Because of the lack of depth and emphasis on each character it’s pretty hard to feel bad for them when something awful happens. Where the movie achieves in visuals it lacks in character depth which hurts the movie to the extreme. It’s hard to enjoy a movie where the characters seem like  strangers in the beginning and strangers in the end.