• Anime Abandon

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    Anime Abandon: Metropolis

     Jan 15 2017 | more 

    With 2017 still fresh in the box, Anime Abandon dives into the frustratingly flawed Metropolis. New year, same old Sage.

    • Orzene

      It’s been years since I’ve seen this. It was playing in a college class while we were trying to get pencil tests down.

      Can’t say I had remembered much of it until Bennett brought it back up here. I guess I can see why I don’t really remember much of it besides being well animated.

    • Liezl Bohnen

      Hey Sage! Do you mind baring with me for a second? Because I know the second anyone sees this comment they’re gonna go “ugh. a butthurt fan rant!” but I honestly wanted to say some things ;w;

      I adore this movie, I honestly do…. but I cannot really argue with any of your frustrations because they’re pretty much all valid and on point. Honestly, they are. And while in the review for Perfect Blue, a movie I also love but you were cool on, your criticism helped me better understand why I like it despite its flaws, here I feel I need to bring up some things if you don’t mind.

      Think of this as an explination…. but not an excuse. If that makes sense.

      The irises in the movie I always felt was more to try and capture the movie practices of the 1920s than anything else, which is why they seem super obvious like with the journal. The film is trying to copy silent cinema in that regard. The reason being is the movie has far more in common with the silent film than it does the Metropolis manga. Honestly there’s little to nothing of the manga IN the movie aside from Tezuka’s repeating characters and their names. So the irises are directly trying to reference that.
      I honestly thought you were gonna mention that but you didn’t which seems strange to me, since that seems like the sort of thing you’d point out. Whether it works or not is really the point. It doesn’t bother me but it doesn’t change it being clunky or awkward either. And whether the referencing excuses the weird choice is debatable. But I was surprised you didn’t bring it up at all. So I thought I’d mention it.

      As for Kenichi being around and brought into dangerous situations, that’s very much a thing in all of Tezuka’s manga that I’ve read at least. In Kimba/Leo the human boy gets brought to wild Africa for dubious reasons, in Astro Boy the child characters are put in just as much danger as Astro himself quite often, etc etc. I’m not sure why this is, in all honesty. The back of my brain itches, wondering if it’s a response to post WWII Japan (talking about Godwin’s law). But my research into the cultural impact on Japanese teenaged youth especially male, is very limited so I might be talking out of my ass here. In my head it seems a response to the loss of life, having to grow up much younger, young boys needing to focus on making a living as apprentices and helpers to the working men still around etc etc. But I’m not sure if this is the case. But that’s the way I always retionalised it. However as I said, this may be completely incorrect as my knowledge is patchy as far as the social side of things went. It just seems like Tezuka had a different handling of the young Japanese teenaged boy than we in the west do, especially in the modern era. Kenichi is the assistant, and therefor he assists in dangerous situations, simply because the supply of young men is limited.

      The meandering plot is another point where I can explain it, but not really excuse it. As well as the kind of thud of an ending. Reading Tezuka’s adult work, there’s a lot of nihilism to it in a way. a lot of humanity as well, but the overall idea of how the bigger parts of the world works, (government, religion, countries etc etc) is always portrayed as very futile, destructive, but never getting any better or changing either. Which translates to the movie as well. There is a class divide, and resistance to it, but in the end it never changes anything. Even as leaders die and revolutions fail, and revolutionary leaders die, it all gets rebuilt exactly the same way and there’s no way to stop it. The government in this movie are bad, but so is Duke. And although they’re not bad, the revolutionaries are misguided and unorganised and, in the end, pointless to cause any real change. There are no good guys. Which is very much a running theme in Tezuka’s work. Everyone is destructive, pointless or misguided, and in the end, it is the individual humanity that always suffers. in this case Kenichi and Tima. They have nothing to do with the politics of this city, but in the end are victims of it, simply by existing within it. Again, a running theme in Tezuka’s work.

      This is also why Kenichi stays behind, which doesn’t make sense from a character point of view, but at least I can understand how it COULD have worked on paper. If Kenichi is humanity, then it is important he stays behind to try and rebuild Metropolis once politics, government and ideals crumble. He either succeeds, rebuilds with the best intentions but merely sets the stage for the exact same politics to take over again and put everything back to how it was but with a new face on the leader, or he fails and humanity dies in the face of nihilism. Again, all stuff throughout Tezuka’s work.

      BUT. Does this make for a good movie to sit down and watch? ….probably not.
      Like I said I adore this movie, but it could be the direction, animation, specifically visual moments (all of which you left out and I’m angry about despite them not being important to the plot) music, or small details won me over. It could be I first saw this movie while in high school and we were covering things in History class (my favourite class) to do with the Russian Revolution and WWII politics so I was in the right headspace. It could be ho un-anime the anime is, or how it juxtaposes cartoony looking characters with a serious atmosphere. Or because it was an early introduction into Tezuka’s adult work (which I prefer over his children’s work) Regardless, I cannot argue with any of your frustrations at all. But unlike the Perfect Blue review, I also cannot use them to understand my own liking for the film either because they’re frustrations I simply do not share or even noticed while watching the film. That doesn’t make your frustrations ‘wrong’ but it’s annoying for me to be able to analyse them. But that’s on me not you.

      Also I kept referring to Tezuka’s work in this comment, but it’s also difficult to justify as, again, this movie is VERY loosely based on the manga, and it retains very little of the plot at all. So all of my arguments might be moot.

      Anyway, sorry you don’t enjoy the movie, Sage. But it was nice to see some Tezuka in your reviews in any shape. Even a negative one.

      • Sol

        Well, we can see you truly do adore this movie, because you like it while acknowledging it’s flaws. Not many people can do that.

    • Cameron Ward

      So you have understandably shown your frustration with Metropolis, I think it’s a good movie, but there is one thing about the review that bothered me.

      If you don’t like the film, then why did you put it as one of the better anime choices when you reviewed Psychic Wars? Seems kind of hypocritical if you ask me. I know it was the very first episode of this series and opinions can change over time, but why say it’s a good anime then come back to it years later if you think it sucks?

      • DarkNacht

        You mean when he put it on the list of things better than Psychic Wars, right before La Blue Girl Returns Vol. 2 Shikima Lust? Probably because even if he doesn’t think its good its still infinitely better than Psychic Wars.

        • Cameron Ward

          It still doesn’t make a load of sense. i mean, it gives the impression it’s good and that the La Blue Girl part was just a joke

          • DarkNacht

            He did not say it was good just better than Psychic Wars.

          • Sol

            No, saying something is better than something awful… means it’s not awful. “Metropolis” is not awful. It’s flawed, not awful.

    • vrykerion

      Hey Sage, was surprised you didn’t make mention at the top of the video about the fact that Rintaro tried for years to make this film, only to be blocked by Tezuka himself. In fact, the only reason he could eventually make the movie was BECAUSE of Tezuka’s passing and then he could deal directly with Tezuka Productions for the rights instead of the man himself.

      Given all the narrative kerfluffle, you have to wonder if Tezuka was right to want this tale to stay buried in the past.

      • Jonathan Rodriguez

        I think so. I read the manga, and assuming nothing was cut out when bringing it to the west, it as a whole feels very unfinished and rushed, ESPECIALLY at the end. And much like with the movie, there is just way too much going on in it; we have Kenichi and his uncle solving a mystery, Michi (who became Tima) learning about humanity from this girl, who ALSO has a minor story having an abusive parental figure, The uncle meeting with Fifi, Duke Red exploiting the robots, and THEN Michi having sudden heel turn to provide a climax.

        It really is all over the place. What Rintaro should have done is take one plot point and flesh it out.

    • Jonathan Rodriguez

      To those of you wondering, Sage is 100% right about the lack of focus. If there is one thing this movie adapted proper from the manga, its the weak characterization and too many characters/plots that drift in and out only to abruptly stop.

      And it doesn’t help that the camera pans out so often to show off its backgrounds, and the characters get lost in it. I first watched this on a black box, and damn if there weren’t so many moments I was playing “where’s Waldo”

    • penguintruth

      I covered this way back in 2014, and it’s one of my favorite anime movies based on the wonderful world it establishes and the better parts of visual storytelling and emotional punch. The way I see its flaw is that despite all the wonderful visual storytelling, it still feels a need to hold the viewer’s hands with the excessive exposition. It’s like somebody looked at the movie before it was put out and decided the viewers would be too stupid to pick up on certain things, so they had the voice actors come in and record additional, unnecessary dialogue. It’s a movie, as you say, struggling against itself, at times. It wants to work to its potential, but it’s intentionally holding itself back. But I still adore it overall.


    • D-Sceane

      I’ve always thought this movie was pretty good, still do actually. However I think this is a case of Rintaro mashing the “symbolism” button too much. Just as you briefly mentioned Rock (and yes it’s a co-incidence) is just there as an antagonist. Why was he put in? Because been an antagonist in a number of manga’s he was in, even tried to kill Tezuka. And that’s where we get to one of the major flaws of this film. It expects you to come in knowing who these characters are, or knowing what fans call the Star System.

      Why the characters are the way they are is more like some semblance of how they are in the manga. Not just Metropolis, but other manga they have been in. Duke Red the evil business man, Ban and Kenichi detectives, etc. In the case of Perro (or whatever Sage called him) he’s a reference to a robot of the same name, but I also think his facial design is a reference to the tokusatsu character Robot Keiji K. Now the candle thing, well it’s a running gag with that character in particular. He’s often referred to as lamp because of there’s a dent in the back of his head you could fit a candle in it.

      I’m not going to go on about how disjointed the plot was, Sage does that well enough. I’ll just say this, more than likely the plot suffered because (and this is speculation) Rintaro wanted the City to be the main character.

      In the end this focused more on being a big spectacle than a fleshed out movie. It required too much supplemental material to even understand what’s been going on or what has happened. When I first saw this movie I thought it was alright. When I saw it again after playing Astro Boy Omega Factor my viewing experience improved, since I recognized the characters better.

      I wound’t say this movie is the best, and I don’t it’s not bad enough to be a guilty pleasure. It’s just one that requires a lot of homework.

    • Narratorway

      This review is basically the epitome of dismissal of visual storytelling, style and tone over script coherence. He misses the point, while also being incorrect about multiple plot points he’s criticizing. The movie absolutely is a twelve car pileup of mish-mashing plots, but he acts like this makes the film a disappointment and that’s only true if you watch it with the assumption that a film’s plot structure is the ONLY valid way to assess it. Sage, I am disappoint.

    • Fiery Little One

      Well, that was something… …I’m not sure what, but it was something…

    • Matic Kačič

      I can’t get your video to play in the latest Chrome.

    • hariman

      Metropolis seems to be the tale of a city set up to be a great wonder of the Earth falling to hubris and a certain amount of blindness to the consequences of what people are doing, as seen from the eyes of a variety of different people.

      And yeah, the big finale is spectacular, though it does have flaws.

    • Raiden

      Not to be Anal. . . but isn’t this set after Bennets Cut-off date for ‘nostalgiac anime’? Or is he making an exception because it’s based on an older work?

      • Swedishguy123

        I may remeber this wrong but in one of his older videos he said that his cut-off date always moved and it was the current year minus 10, for exampel 2014-2004, or now 2017-2007. Maybe I’m wrong but I think that rule still is works.

        • Raiden

          So I’m going to have to wait until 2027 to have him review the Evangelion Rebuild films? That sucks.

          • Swedishguy123

            probaly, if he doesn’t make an exception

    • Hudson. Rock. Rock Hudson? …not sure where I’m going with this.

      This is was one of the first anime films I watched when I really began to get into anime in the late 90’s/early 00’s, so I still feel some nostalgia for it. For some reason I never had any problem following along with the plot, as disjointed as it is… maybe because life itself can be disjointed and not everything has to have a point to it.

      Granted, that’s not really an excuse for poor storytelling. That’s like excusing bad acting because the character being portrayed isn’t an actor. =Þ To be honest, I STILL don’t get that sudden musical break at the end. “I Can’t Stop Loving You” is a beautiful song, maybe reflecting how Kenichi feels about Tima… but… why? Why THEN of all moments?