Anime: Metropolis

It's a loooooooong way up.

The 2001 Animated film by Tristar Pictures, directed by Rintaro, and animated by Madhouse. It did not actually involve Osamu Tezuka and was made after his death. It draws as much from the classic German film Metropolis as it does from Tezuka's manga of the same name, and does not attempt to be faithful to either. But it was rated on one film site's all-time best animated films list.

In a Zeerust future, an elderly Japanese detective and his young assistant arrive in Metropolis, the most advanced and wealthiest city in the world, on the trail of a wanted Mad Scientist and organ trafficker. Assigned a robot detective as a guide, they track the man down to a lab in the undercity just to see it destroyed by a Knight Templar with an anti-robot agenda. Out of the wreckage crawls the doctor's greatest achievement, a naked and inhumanly beautiful young woman with apparently no idea who she is, what she is, how she got there or what clothes are. The assistant and the girl then get separated from his mentor when the floor gives way.

As the film unfolds, the mentor attempts to find his ward, the assistant attempts to find out both the nature of the girl and how to escape from the undercity, the city politics take a turn for the worst, and the city's most powerful man seeks the girl as a prop in a somewhat messianic agenda.


This move provides examples of the following:

  • Accidental Pervert: Very noticeably avoided. Tima goes without pants for a fair part of the movie, keeps sitting facing Kenichi, and he doesn't flinch or say anything. Given that he's dressed like a boy scout and seems to be something of a "boy adventurer" in the style of Tintin and his ilk, his extreme politeness doesn't feel all that weird.
  • A God Am I: Or rather, "A Goddess I'll make!". doesn't turn out well.
  • A.I. Is a Crapshoot: Both in the usual sense, and in the sense that some robots are obviously sentient while others of the same model aren't.
  • Animation Bump: Tima's hair.
  • Anyone Can Die
  • Apocalypse How: Class 0.
  • Apocalypse Maiden: If Tima would've gone through with it, the probability of humanity's survival would've been only 30%.
  • Apocalypse Wow: It's only some districts of the city including the ziggurat, but it looks awesome.
  • Artistic Age
  • Big Blackout: Tima's hack into the Ziggurat causes a blackout in the city district they're currently in, after the hack, the jerry-rigged steampunk computer exploded, for bonus points.
  • Big "NO!": As Tima falls to her death, Kenichi does this.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Played straight and possibly averted, depending on the version you watch. The Ziggurat falls, Duke Red and Rock are explicitly shown dead, the city is devastated in the fallout, and poor sweet Tima slips from Kenichi's grasp right as her sense of self is returning, falling into the burning abyss. The final scene hints that Tima's parts can be reclaimed, and her spirit is still somehow broadcasting through a radio. However, there's also a final image after the credits that full-on reveals that Kenichi was somehow able to rebuild Tima, and they've opened their own robot company together. Unfortunately, despite being in the original Japanese and English theatrical releases, the image was cut from the English DVD release, for whatever stupid reason. Luckily, the image is restored in the streamed Hulu version (it was also there in the 2005 [adult swim] showing).
  • Canon Immigrant: Rock wasn't actually in the original manga. His characterization here is largely taken from his appearance in Tezuka's next major sci-fi manga after Metropolis, Nextworld.
  • Circling Monologue: Rock circles Tima before knocking her out.
  • Conspicuous CG: Makes extensive use of this for the backgrounds and scenery while keeping the characters traditionally animated.
  • Cool, but Impractical: The firefighting robot thingies. Of course, given how extremely cramped the streets are, a bunch of slowly-assembling but small, easy-to-transport units may actually be more efficient than an instantly-ready but cumbersome piece of equipment.
  • Cool Old Guy: While Kenichi's uncle is mostly presented as source of humor, he proves he's no pushover and even beats down Rock, even after he was injured.
  • Cosy Catastrophe: After the Ziggurat explodes, Metropolitans seem to take their new pile of rubble in stride.
  • Crapsaccharine World: A colorful, pastel city of equally plush robots who are willing to do your bidding, not to mention trustworthy people in charge. Oooh, and look, someone built a huge tower. Perfect vacation landmark, right? Until you realize what the huge tower is really for, and how corrupt the officials really are.
  • Creator Cameo: In the score, oddly enough. There's one bit of music that features a prominent part for bass clarinet; according to the liner notes of the soundtrack, one of the bass clarinetists is Rintaro himself.
  • Death by Adaptation: As mentioned elsewhere, Tima is shown to survive in a scene not in the American version.
  • Determinator: Rock
  • Disguised in Drag: Rock combines this with Latex Perfection in order to sneak into the Ziggurat.
  • Diesel Punk: With Cyber Punk.
  • Doomsday Device: The Ziggurat is meant as a way for Metropolis to extend its military power, but in the wrong hands...
  • The Dragon: Averted. Rock appears to be set up as Duke Red's Dragon for the first two minutes, then they have a chilly conversation and work at cross-purposes for the rest of the movie.
  • Famous Last Words: Who-who am I-I?
  • In Case You Forgot Who Wrote It: Guess who had no involvement in the production of this film? At all? Of course, he was dead at the time, but... if you're gonna put Tezuka's name on the production, it should have more in common with his manga. Then again, seeing how he came to feel about his manga...
  • Kill All Humans: Tima goes into this mode when she discovered she was a robot, especially when she goes on the throne of power.
  • Knight Templar: Rock plays his anti-robot agenda to the end. Good thing too. Also a Jerkass and Psychotic Smirker.
  • MacGyvering: Shunsaku jerry-rigs an old television set, a rotary phone and some loose wiring. Using Tima, he's able to hack into a government power grid and pinpoint the location of his assistant Kenichi.
  • The Morlocks: Not deformed yet, but things are going badly wrong for the lower-class Metropolitans.
  • Mr. Exposition: Pero and Atlas both take this one.
  • No Communities Were Harmed: It's implied that the coastal region of Windsor, Ontario is the setting of Metropolis. This can be seen in various structures and maps of the areas spread throughout the film.
  • Norio Wakamoto: Pero.
  • Old Shame: The reason a film adaptation was never attempted in Tezuka's lifetime was that he came to dislike the original manga as being too crude and amateurish.
  • Poisonous Friend: Rock, who does whatever he can to "protect" Duke Red by refusing to let a robot have the power which he thinks can only be used by his "father", even it means completely going against his orders.
  • Pragmatic Villainy: Doctor Lawton doesn't use human organs in his robots, because he claims they don't last very long.
  • Reused Character Design: Tezuka's "actors" reprise their original roles from the manga, while Rock (who wasn't in the original manga) comes in to provide conflict and shoot stuff.
  • Robot Buddy: Fifi and Pero.
  • Robot Girl: Tima
    • She also counts as Ridiculously Human Robots, seeing as even Rock said you can't tell the difference from her and a human, also, as she thought she WAS human through most of the movie.
  • Room Full of Kenichi
  • Scenery Gorn
  • Scenery Porn: In some scenes the characters are just tiny figures at the bottom of the screen, with the backgrounds given pride of place.
    • It's not uncommon to find the backgrounds consistently more interesting than the characters and/or plot.
  • Shout-Out: The ending sequence is a pretty obvious shout-out to Dr. Strangelove.
  • Sliding Scale of Robot Intelligence
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: Ray Charles. "I Can't Stop Loving You" plays blissfully over the climax.
    • Even when there is Soundtrack Dissonance, there is not Lyrical Dissonance: The lyrics fit a number of the characters rather snugly because the song is about a guy who cannot let his lover go, and announces he will reject his sad reality and start living in the beautiful past.
  • Stock Sound Effects: The Ziggurat weapon winding down sounds the same as the Millennium Falcon failing to make a hyperspace jump
  • Sunglasses at Night: Rock in most of the film. This is never brought up in the movie. (It makes sense if you know the rest of Tezuka's manga works...)
  • Take My Hand: Kenichi to Tima as he's trying to pull her to safety near the end. She doesn't.
  • Tears from a Stone: Tima starts to cry, when she realizes, that she's not human.
  • The Revolution Will Not Be Vilified: Subverted. While it's clear that the government here needs to be toppled, Atlas's murder of Pero and the subsequent wanton violence by the riot/rebellion shows that the "revolution" isn't all that good either.
  • Unwitting Pawn: Atlas and the president.
  • Utopia Justifies the Means: Duke Red's motivation. He gets no Kick the Dog moments but does some rather nasty things to get on top.
    • Also applied to Atlas and his revolutionaries, who kill Pero and tear ass through Metropolis in order to topple Duke Red.
  • "Well Done, Son!" Guy: Although Rock is only Duke Red's (sort of) adopted son, his entire motivation for trying to kill Tima is to get him to love him, and only him, as his own.
  • What Measure Is a Non-Human?: Duke Red doesn't even care that his artificial goddess is dressed like a street person. That's a subtle bit. Also the non-protagonists treat the robots as cattle and all the sentient robots in the film end up dead—unless you count the apparently-recovered Fifi and not-totally-gone Tima. The Japanese protagonists (and possibly Atlas, despite viewing harsh treatment of the robots as necessary) are the only people that relate to the robots as sentient entities.
  • Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds: Tima. After getting shot and realizing that she's a robot, she takes control of immeasurably powerful technology and orders the extinction of humanity.
  • Yandere: Depending on what you think Tima was trying to do at the very end.
  • You Are a Credit to Your Race:
    "From now on, your name is Pero!"
    "Wasn't that your dog's name?
    "So? That was a great dog!"
    • Probably unintentional, as this is actually a Mythology Gag. The character first appeared in an Astro Boy story, where instead of being a straight robot he was a cyborg created from the nervous system of a dog due to his creators wanting an army of killer robots but were unable to get their hands on AI that wasn't Three-Laws Compliant.


Alternative Title(s):

Osamu Tezukas Metropolis, ptitlem14nv1mw