Sometimes I can be a really bad fan of anime. But with a train trip from Boston to Philadelphia, I had a good chunk of time to lean back in my seat and watch something. Enter the copy of Metropolis recently added to my DVD library thanks to a friend having a second copy. With a story based off work by the legendary manga-ka Tezuka Osamu, a screenplay by Otomo Katsuhiro, and Rintaro directing, it’s only natural to have high expectations and hopes. Thankfully, the only thing the film left me disappointed in was myself for not watching it sooner.
First and foremost, to simply call the film visually stunning would be an understatement. The cityscapes projected in the film are breathtaking, creating feelings of amazement, wonder and perhaps even some fear as the tall buildings seem to be the only landscape visible for miles. The art deco future setting comes alive so much more. In modern filmmaking CGI can become quickly dated or in other instances it sticks out from the rest of the film’s content. Yet in Metropolis CGI and normal cell animation blend together and share the screen with just a healthy balance between the two that is rarely seen.
Yet eye candy is not the only reason for the film being so enjoyable, not by a long shot. With likeable protagonists, detestable villains, the plot can easily draw the viewer further into the film. It could be argued that many of the characters are one dimensional, but they aren’t so one-sided that they seem unbelievable. Early on, one will be able to predict the actions of most of the characters, but it is not from them being too one-dimensional, rather it is a result of them being made more plausible.
Recently, I also read through Tezuka’s manga, Apollo’s Song. A gripping story with a main character who appears to be unable to love, being punished by some divine force to live through a barrage of different lives in which any time he nears the possibility of finally attaining true love, catastrophe strikes. While generally I read manga relatively fast as it is; I found that I had trouble putting the book (which is over 500 pages) down. It’s not the kiddy side of Tezuka that most people think of when conjuring up what sort of stuff he’s created.
Perhaps the most jarring part of adding the book to my collection came after completing it. I keep my manga organized by manga-ka. Apollo’s Song by Tezuka Osamu was placed in the shelf right next to Saikano, but Takahashi Shin. Unsettling, but oddly fitting at the same time.