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Osamu Tezuka's Metropolis DVD
Trilingual DVD
109 Minutes
Metropolis Committee
Osamu Tezuka
Katsuhiro Otomo
Tezuka Productions
Mad House
TriStar Pictures
A fast paced and interesting tale of a future that might have been.
Overall Rating:

Animefringe Reviews:
Osamu Tezuka's Metropolis DVD
By Adam Arnold

Pretty much anything Katsuhiro Otomo touches is considered a classic. But, what happens when he teams up with legendary director Rintaro to adapt a work by the legendary god of manga and anime, Osamu Tezuka? Why, he makes it into something truly breathtaking. Metropolis is just that... breathtaking. It raises the bar for feature films.

Ironically, it's only due to Osamu Tezuka's death that this movie adaptation was even made. Metropolis was an unfinished vision of the future and is ironically Tezuka's third work prior, to Astro Boy. Tezuka had refused to give anyone permission to do an anime adaptation of the movie all the way up to his death. This movie is both respectful of the work and disrespectful of Osamu Tezuka's wishes. Make what you will of this lack of regard for the man, but I'm glad this story was brought to life. Having long been a fan of Astro Boy and Tezuka's other works it's nice to see his classic art style being used once again.

The story begins with the powerful leader, Duke Red who has just completed work on his towering building known as the Ziggurat. Robots perform a wide variety of tasks but are restricted by their movement between the three levels of the city known as Metropolis. Duke Red has a 'son' named Rock who is the Chief conductor of a citywide rouge robot execution force. Their relationship has become strained and Rock has begun to distrust his father and has started to follow him.

At the same time, a Japanese detective named Shunsaku Ban and his nephew Kenichi come to Metropolis in search of Dr. Laughton, a scientist who has a thing for creating some rather advanced robots. Ironically, the Duke has asked the scientist to create a robot copy of his dead daughter, Tima. Rock finds out and tries to destroy the lab before the robot can be activated. The detectives come upon the lab as a fire has begun to spread.

The tale then splits into a number of separate storylines from there as the detectives are separated and must deal with pure anarchy that follows. This separation of storylines does upset the flow of the movie and make some of the scene changes hard to follow. Also, it's not easy to judge the exact nature of Tima and Kenichi's relationship with one another. The trailers for the move make their relationship into one of love, but it's not exactly like that. It's more of a mutual dependency where they need each other to survive, and ends up being a strong friendship.

Metropolis is a metaphysical tale with an overall commentary on industrialization and it's effect on people. The movie is also overly American and yet a criticism on America at the same time, as the main setting is in a tri-level city known as Metropolis (yeah, where Superman lives) and the rise of the Ziggurat seems to be symbolic of America's rise to power. Interestingly, Duke Red's head is Eagle shaped and he is dressed much like Uncle Sam in his first few scenes. Still, that's just one interpretation. That aside, it's smoothly paced movie that will easily keep the viewer interested in what will happen next.

The movie is presented dubbed in Japanese, English, and French along with a number of subtitle options. The default dub track is Japanese, and for good reason - because the supporting cast is a large troupe of familiar Tezuka voice actors. The English dub is also of exceptional quality and performed by a number of Bandai regulars, but some of the supporting cast just don't seem to fit the overall look of the characters they are portraying.

In the extras department, this set is fairly loaded. On the second disc, which by the way is cute little mini-DVD, the main extra is a 30 minute Animax Special about the making of the movie and divulges not only info on the original manga but on how the Rock was added to the story since he wasn't in the manga and about how the movie generally came into being. There are also film maker interviews that expand on their comments in the special, a small set of multi-angle comparisons, a history of Metropolis, creator biographies, and even conceptual art. So, all things considered, the extra value mini-DVD is worth it's weight in gold.

Altogether, Metropolis is Columbia TriStar's first installment in their anime line-up. In some ways, Columbia TriStar can be compared to the once great Streamline/Orion which introduced the world to such films as Akira and Robot Carnival. If Metropolis is any example of how great their releases are going to be, then there is no doubt that the Cowboy Bebop movie is in good hands.

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