Well, I got my dad to watch Metropolis with me. What probably persuaded him was the four stars that Ebert gave it (Ebert likes anime), and the quote on the back of the DVD case by James Cameron, calling it the “new milestone in anime.” Or maybe he just wanted to be a good dad… ugh.
Well, Metropolis is unlike anything I’ve ever seen. It’s created by Tezuka, Written by Otomo, and directed by Rintaro. What does that mean? Well, it means it’s got do be damn WONDERFUL. While it’s the most cartoony and simple things I’ve ever seen, it’s also the deepest and best animes I’ve ever seen. It’s… like… really hard to explain.
Metropolis is a four-layered city. At the bottom are robots who work on powering the city. On the level above that are the slums, where revolutionaries live. Above that are the bourgeois, in a city much like ours today. On the surface level is the model town of Metropolis, with giant buildings and the “Ziggurat,” a giant tower acting as a direct reference to the Bible (Babel Tower). Seems like any other four-layered city you might think of, right?
The characters are very, very cartoony. They don’t look like any other anime characters I’ve ever seen. They’ve got big noses, giant moustaches, they’re all super-deformed with short legs, and they all speak in a cartoony voice (both dubbed and Japanese). More like Warner Brothers characters, or something. But they’ve still got a lot of depth.
The main generic good-guy Tezuka character, Kenichi, accompanies his uncle from Japan to Metropolis, where they’re investigating a crime. Kenichi finds himself stuck with a half-human, half-robot creation that, unbeknownst to him or the robot, is destined to rule the world through the Ziggurat. All they care about is their survival, as they’re chased around by Rock, an orhpan child of the Duke of Metropolis, who keeps chasing after them and trying to shoot them. Even with these odd characters, everything in the film is just rather wonderful.
Oh yes, and the music added a lot to the movie, too. Actually, at times, it defined whole scenes. Most of the movie was accompanied by 20’s flapper swing dance whatever tunes, making Metropolis feel even more like the “big city.” And if you watch it, just wait until you see the placement of “I Can’t Stop Loving You.” I won’t give much away… but just think of the ending of Dr. Strangelove.
I’m currently showing Jin-Roh at my school, borrowing the DVD player from my generous dad, and Metropolis will be next. Since Metropolis barely has any Japanese feel to it, it’ll be a great way to end the school year (even though there will probably be time to show some more stuff afterwards). I actually planned to invite all of my friends to go see Metropolis in theaters, but it went out of theaters the day that we planned the party. Well, I finally got it, and Ebert and Cameron are right.