Osamu Tezuka’s Metropolis was a very interesting project. Made in 2001, of course long after the death of the legendary Tezuka, who created the likes of Astro Boy and Kimba the White Lion, it was based on a 1949 manga he created, adapted by Akira’s Outomo Katsuhiro and directed by Rintaro, renowned Harlock helmsman who worked with Tezuka in the 60s.
These names, the legacy of the ‘Godfather of Anime’ and Madhouse at their very best make for a striking feature. The production values are excellent, and Tezuka’s distinctive and old-fashioned designs look superb when animated beautifully. The setpieces, cg-tinted like those of Gankutsuou, are often stunning, and the jazz soundtrack is undeniably fun. It’s midway between Tezuka’s manga, which sounds a bit odd and babyish, and the live-action film (Tezuka supposedly wrote his version based on nothing but a movie poster) – Tezuka’s recurring character designs and overall tone dominate, but scenery and power structures are straight from Lang’s vision.
The plot gets somewhat sloppy towards the end, with Rock in particular mostly just being there as an unstable catalyst, but it’s beautiful and good fun and a fitting homage to the legacy of one of the most important figures in animation history.
(expanded from impressions, 28.2.08)