Based on Osamu Tezuka’s comic book by the same name, Metropolis was the first Japanese animie after Akira to be as big over here as it was over there. Penned by Akira creator Katsuhiro Otomo and Directed by Rintaro, Metropolis is an example of Japanese animation at it’s very best, told by a master storyteller.
Like all of Ôtomo’s work Metropolis is a class act, and a far cry from the traditional anime staples of school girl sex and graphic violence. The visuals are lush with a quirky European edge – think Tin Tin meets City Of Lost Children. A great jazz/swing soundtrack adds atmosphere and humour.
Echoing Fritz Lang’s dystopian masterpiece, Otoma’s tale is one of intrigue, betrayal, jealousy and power-play between Metropolis’ two uber villains: the General and Duke Red. In the midst of this is a love story, focused on Tima – a timid, large-eyed-manga-girl-super-being. Designed as the ultimate weapon, Tima’s fate is to sit on the throne inside Metropolis’ giant ziggurat, and from there control the world at the bidding of her human masters.
Like Akira, Metropolis shows Ôtomo’s fascination with the meaning of what it is to be human. As Tima struggles to determine her own destiny we are pulled inexorably into the story. Can she escape her fate to find love in the world of humans? Or will she be subsumed by the will of the giant super computer? That would be telling.
First released in 2001, Eureka’s new issue gives Metropolis the full, high-definition, duel-format SteelBook treatment. This includes Japanese and English soundtracks, with a choice of three English subtitle tracks: the US theatrical, the original translation and a newly commissioned translation. A making-of and interviews add flavour and colour.
But the power of Metropolis is – and always has been – its visuals and these have lost none of their power to enchant.