Metropolis

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Metropolis
File:Metropolis-anime-dvd.jpg
Directed by Hayashi Shigeyuki
Produced by Toshio Suzuki
Written by Osamu Tezuka
Starring Kei Kobayashi
Miyu Irino
Kei Kobayashi
Kouki Okada
Tarô Ishida
Distributed by Bandai Visual
TriStar Pictures (U.S.)
Release date(s) Japan May 26 2001
UK January 11, 2002
USA January 25, 2002
Running time 107 min.
Language Japanese
Budget $14,500,000 (estimated)
All Movie Guide profile
IMDb profile


Metropolis (メトロポリス ), also known as Osamu Tezuka's Metropolis or Robotic Angel (in Germany) is a manga by Osamu Tezuka and an anime movie loosely based on the manga.

Despite some similarities, the manga was only indirectly influenced by Fritz Lang's pre-World War II epic Metropolis. In fact, Osamu Tezuka claimed not to have seen the film at the time he was working on this story, but rather that he was inspired by the poster of the 1927 film. For example, the strong theme of class struggle present in the film version is not present in the manga, which rather tells a fairly straightfoward story aimed at younger readers. However, his creation of the character Mitchi was based on the only still picture of the movie that he had seen, which depicted the birth of a female robot. Because he considered it to be one of his earlier, lesser works, Tezuka did not want his manga to be made into a feature film and if he was still alive, the anime movie version probably would not have been produced.[Citation not needed at all; thank you very much]

However, this cinematic adaptation of Tezuka's story integrates far more elements from the original Fritz Lang film. In addition to adapting the landmark set designs of the original film (a style that inspired such other important sci-fi films as Blade Runner), this version reintroduces a strong and pervasive theme of class struggle in a dystopian plutocratic society and expands it to examine the relationship of robots with their human masters. The film adaptation also removes many of the more fanciful elements out of Tezuka's manga. These changes make the 2001 film adaptation more complex and aims at more mature audiences than Tezuka's version.

The manga is published in English by Dark Horse Comics.

The anime movie, released in June 2001 in Japan and on January 25, 2002 in the U.S. (rated PG-13 by the MPAA), was directed by Rintaro, and written by Katsuhiro Otomo.

The movie also has the honour of being the first anime movie since the mid 90's to be aired on Channel 4 in the UK (It aired in the early hours of Sunday 30th October 2005 and was aired both uncut and in Japanese with English Subtitles).

The song "I Can't Stop Loving You" by Ray Charles was used instead of sound effects in the final scene of the film.

Quote (opening credits of the movie): "Every epoch dreams its successor." - Jules Michelet

Plot (anime movie)[edit]

Ziggurat[edit]

The movie opens with the celebration of the completion of the Ziggurat when a robot, who is outside its zone, tries to crash the party, but is shot down by a boy named Rock.

A Japanese private detective, Shunsaku Ban and his nephew, Kenichi, have arrived in the grand city-state of Metropolis. Metropolis itself lies in an unmentioned republic and it can best be described as a plutocracy where a man named Duke Red is the most influential citizen, overshadowing President Boon and Mayor Ryon, the heads of state and government of Metropolis. In Metropolis' heavily industrialised futuristic world, artificial intelligence has advanced a great deal and robots are seen everywhere performing many different tasks. Despite their intelligence, robots do not have any of the rights that are granted to human beings. In order not to infringe upon human rights, they are not allowed to have human names nor to travel between the four Zones which Metropolis is divided in without special permission. Thus they live under Apartheid-like conditions.

In order to protect humans from mischievous-minded robots, the Marduk patrol the streets of Metropolis. Heavily armed men dressed in red uniforms destroy robots as they please. The Marduk is a vigilante group who has formed a political party. It's a public secret that their founder is Duke Red, and that his adopted son, Rock, is a leading figure in the organization.

The private detective and his nephew, along with an assigned robot detective (Nicknamed "Perro" by detective Shunsaku; the robot thought it innapropriate to have a human name, and, effectively, "perro" means "dog" in Spanish) are looking for a person named Dr. Laughton, who is, among other things, suspected by human rights organizations of human rights violations and the trading of human organs. Little do they know that Duke Red has hired Dr. Laughton to manufacture an extremely intelligent robot in the shape of Duke Red's deceased daughter. The robot is to sit on her customised throne, a supercomputer at the top of the newly built Ziggurat; a mountainous, towering government palace that Duke Red has constructed for military purposes of reaching the stars and establishing dominion over the entire Earth. Duke Red, without consulting military leaders, has tested the Ziggurat's revolutionary solar superweapon of mass destruction that compromised national security. President Boon and other government and military leaders discuss about the current situation and plan to arrest Duke Red for treason once enough resentment builds up against him.

Dr. Laughton plans to flee Metropolis once the robot Tima (named after Duke Red's daughter) is finished. Rock, as Marduk leader-head of security, upon discovering Dr. Laughton's treacherous intentions, shoots and kills him in cold blood. He then sets fire to Dr. Laughton's laboratory, intending to destroy all traces of Dr. Laughton's project, including the robot Tima, which lies dormant in suspended animation at the time.

However, Tima wakes up during the fire and is saved by Kenichi. Dr. Laughton dies shortly after being rescued by Shunsaku but manages to utter a few words regarding a precious notebook of his, which the detective saves from the flames. During their escape from the burning building, Kenichi and Tima fall down a sewage drain and become separated from the detective.

Thus, while the detective searches for his nephew, Kenichi and Tima are at the same being time chased by Rock who is monomanical about destroying Tima. Rock's determination to track down and kill Tima lies in his misguided belief that his father, Duke Red, should be the one whom sits on the throne at the top of the Ziggurat and not a robot.

It is during this time that Kenichi attempts to teach Tima how to speak and interact with people, mostly explaining to her the concept of "you" and "I" among other basic grammatical concepts.

Escaping from Rock, Tima and Kenichi unexpectedly encounter Atlas, leader of a pro-human resistance group of unemployed labourers who live in poverty below Metropolis' glistering surface. Having lost their jobs to robots, these workers live off of government rations and protest mechanisation. However, their ration supply is terminated for the Ziggurat celebration, so they plan to take up arms and launch a coup d'état against the Marduks and bring down the Ziggurat, an act symbolically related to the Biblical story of the tower of Babel. The revolution starts when Atlas kills Perro and the revolutionaries catch the Marduks off guard.

Coup d'état[edit]

President Boon and the government wait for the right time to arrest Duke Red. But the President is then betrayed and assassinated by a pro-Marduk general. Duke Red usurps power and declares martial law. Symbolically winter comes to Metropolis at this time and covers the city in snow. The uprising is supressed by the military and upon discovering a dying Atlas, Kenichi along with Tima rejoins his uncle. The detective is then wounded by Rock.

Duke Red soon arrives, searching for Rock. As he is about to scold Rock for carrying on an operation without his permission, his view drifts to Tima, and he is taken aback in awe by the fact that she is still alive. Tima then falls back into the hands of Duke Red, who exiles Rock for trying to kill her. At the Ziggurat, she writes Kenichi's name all over her room, much to the shock of one of the maids. Tima is interrogated and briefly taken captive by Rock, who wants to dissect her but is then knocked unconscious by the detective. He has Tima locate Kenichi (creating a large-scale blackout of the city in the process), finding that he is being held captive in the Ziggurat. As Tima and Shunsaku head for the Ziggurat, Duke Red tracks the pair down and captures them both.

Kenichi is reunited with his uncle who declares the mistreatment of his nephew as a direct violation of international law. Tima asks Duke Red if she is a robot or a human, and Duke Red replies that she is a superhuman who has a true destiny: to merge with the Ziggurat and rule the Earth. The detective reveals Dr. Laughton's notebook which contains evidence about Tima and the Ziggurat against Duke Red. It explains that upon merging with the throne, Tima's emotions and memories would be erased so that she could be the control device used for Duke Red's superweapon.

Suddenly Rock shoots her, disguised as a maid, who in turn is shot by one of the guards. When Tima sees the wound she realizes that she is an "artificial human" created to conquer, upon which a secondary AI program is activated, turning Tima into the unwilling architect of a robot revolution. Taking her seat upon the throne, Tima seizes control of the fortress and orders a biological and robot attack on all major cities in the world, intended to annihilate humanity.

Robots launch a revolution against humanity, and when Kenichi pulls Tima from her throne (at the cost of half of her body and clothing deformed by the throne's electromagnetic effects), he tries to redeem her even though she repeatedly tries to kill him. The robots kill the Ziggurat scientists and attempt to kill Duke Red before Rock presses a button that activates the Ziggurat's superweapon. Upon activation, the Ziggurat begins to explode. This is due to Tima overloading the Ziggurat's systems when she integrated herself into the throne and took control of the Ziggurat. The Ziggurat's systems cannot take the activation of the weapon, so it overloads beyond its limits and is destroyed, along with the surrounding area of Metropolis and its four Zones.

Kenichi continues to try and redeem Tima, who in turn tries to kill him. Tima grabs Kenichi by the neck and as she does so, her CPU overloads and deactivates, causing her to become disorientated and lunge over the walkway's edge, taking Kenichi with her. As he falls, Kenchi manages to grab onto a lower walkway and pull himself up. On regaining his balance, he spots Tima dangling hundreds of metres above the ground, with only a wire, connected to her hand, keeping her from falling. The other end is attached to a piece of the throne that came away when Kenichi pulled her from it, and it is stuck between two girders with Tima in the middle. After her command CPU is deactivated, Kenichi begins to pull her up, and as he does the wire begins to fray. It snaps but Kenichi grabs Tima's hand, and pleads to her to grab his. As she dangles, she remembers Kenichi's earlier teachings, and what he taught her about grammar. Kenichi tries to save the now "redeemed" Tima but fails. Her final words to him are "Kenichi! Who...am...I?" and she falls to her death as the main section of the Ziggurat is completely destroyed by the nuclear meltdown and explosive destruction.

Aftermath[edit]

The next morning, Metropolis lies in ruins and a few robots survive, while human survivors, including Kenichi's uncle, evacuate in an airship. Kenichi stays in Metropolis to find Tima and help the robot survivors. He is surprised to see that several robot workers have recovered Tima's shoes and a few of her parts and proceeds to look for more of her parts in order to rebuild her. Others can interpret this action as though Kenichi is paying his last respects to Tima; after all, she was the most complex robot in the world and would not easily be rebuilt. Later, after a radio finishes playing the music, it plays Tima's voice saying: "Who am I?"

Characters[edit]

Shunsaku Ban - a Japanese private detective who is looking for Dr. Laughton. He is accompanied to Metropolis by his nephew.

Kenichi - Ban's nephew and sidekick. A young boy who bonds with Tima after rescuing her from the flames devouring Dr. Laughton's laboratory.

Duke Red - the villain of the story and the plutocrat who founded the Marduk. He builds the Ziggurat in order to gain world dominion, which he wants to give to a robot named Tima.

Dr. Laughton - the mad scientist who is hired by Duke Red to build Tima.

Tima - A robot modeled and named after Duke Red's deceased daughter.

Atlas - the leader of resentful unemployed labourers who launches a coup d'état in order to bring down the Ziggurat.

Rock - (canon to the anime) the antagonist and tragic anti-hero of the story. He was adopted by Duke Red, but his father has since refused to acknowledge him as his child or return his love. His tragic flaw is his unconditioned love and unscrupulous search for approval by his father.

Rock resents the fact that Duke Red has more affection for his late daughter than Rock, his adopted son. Hence he cannot understand why a mere robot is to sit upon the throne and not his father. Initially he tries to kill her but Duke Red discovers this and ostracises him. This angers Rock and he kidnaps Tima in order to dissect her whilst she's still alive to find out what Duke Red finds so special about her (in this scene a photo can be seen of Rock and Duke Red in happier times). As Tima is saved by the detective, Rock disguises himself as a maid and infiltrates the Ziggurat where he confronts his father and tell him about her unworthiness. He is dismissed anew and shot by the guards. At the end of the story, when Duke Red is being killed by robots, he realises Rock's love for him when the latter, though gun shot wounded, says that he shan't let any robot harm his father. Rock then proceeds to kill them all by overloading the Ziggurat power plant, causing it to explode.

Missing ending picture[edit]

File:Metropolis Picture.jpg
The missing ending picture.

The Japanese version shows a picture after the credits depicting a shop named "Kenichi & Tima Robot Company," with Tima visible in the window, implying that Kenichi succeeded in rebuilding Tima (though it is unclear whether he has managed to reactivate her). This picture was cut from the English language version of the film.

External links[edit]