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Metropolis [2]

Entry updated 15 November 2021. Tagged: Film.

Japanese animated film (2001; vt Osamu Tezuka's Metropolis). Based on the Manga by Osamu Tezuka. Madhouse. Directed by Rintaro. Written by Katsuhiro Ōtomo. Voice cast includes Yuka Imoto, Tarô Ishida, Kei Kobayashi, Hiroaki Okada, Junpei Takiguchi and Kōsei Tomita. 108 minutes. Colour.

Duke Red (Ishida), a wealthy industrialist in Metropolis, the most powerful City on Earth, arranges the murder of its President – planning to replace him with an AI Robot (Imoto) who will rule not only the city but all of humanity. The robot has the name and appearance of his dead daughter, Tima: she will sit upon a throne atop The Ziggurat, a newly constructed skyscraper fitted with military Technology: Red asserts she will rule not with fallible emotion but with reason.

To bring about the coup Red funds an anti-robot fascist group led by his adopted son, Rock (Okada): however, Rock believes his own propaganda and considers his father to be robot-fixated, so seeks to protect him by destroying Tima. Meanwhile, the Japanese detective Shunsaku Ban (Tomita), accompanied by his nephew Kenichi Shikishima (Kobayashi), is visiting the city to arrest Tima's creator, Scientist Dr. Laughton (Takiguchi): they arrive at his laboratory just after Rock destroys it. Kenichi and Tima fall into the city's lower levels, inhabited only by robots: during their adventures below the pair grow close, but on returning to the surface they are captured by Red. Tima is traumatized to learn she is a robot: now unstable, she sits on the throne assimilating the Ziggurat's technology and attempts to wipe out humanity. Fortunately Rock – who is nothing if not persistent – blows up the Ziggurat, which collapses, killing everyone save Shunsaku and Kenichi. The former returns to Japan, but Kenichi stays on in the city and – as seen in a post-credits image cut from some DVD releases – eventually rebuilds Tima.

The film is based on one of Tezuka's earliest works, the middle volume of a Manga trilogy featuring Kenichi and Shunsaku: Lost World (1948), Metropolis (1949), and Nextworld (1951). Metropolis was inspired by Tezuka reading an illustrated article on Metropolis (1926) directed by Fritz Lang; he had not seen the film when he wrote the manga. This Anime draws upon both the Tezuka and Lang works that share its name. Though the basic storyline itself is fairly routine, its accompanying themes include Politics, class and technology. The most developed personality is Rock, unloved by his father but desperate for his approval. Visually the film is spectacular, making Metropolis its main character and filling the plot with energy; the soundtrack is also noteworthy – all in all, it is a memorable work. [SP]


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