A stunning piece of Japanese animation, Metropolis
(2001) gets much of its visual look as well as its storyline less from the Fritz Lang classic than from Osamu Tezuka's comic book adaptation of it. In a style a reminiscent of Little Nemo
, Lang's dystopian fantasy is tweaked into the story of the doomed robot girl Tima and her love for Kenichi, nephew of a visiting Japanese detective. The city's ruler, Duke Red, needs her to complete his super-weapon, the Ziggurat, and has built her to resemble his dead daughter; the Duke's adopted son Rock is jealous and possessive of his father; and Tima's builder Laughton has agendas of his own. There are chases, riots, conflagrations and duels in the snow; unusually for Japanese animation the backgrounds are as inventively characterised as the characters who move through them. Screenwriter Katsuhiro Otomo and director Rintaro have deservedly moved from cult status to the mainstream on the strength of this film, which merits the epic tag so often attached to less interesting animations. --Roz Kaveney
Anime retelling of Fritz Lang's 'Metropolis'. Ruled by the despotic Duke Red, ultra-futuristic city Metropolis is a playground for its rich citizens, but is serviced and kept going by an underclass of Robots toiling below ground. The Duke who lost his biological daughter is consumed by the desire to create a robot version of her, much to the chagrin of his adopted son, the belligerent loner Rock. Arriving in the poorer side of the city are Kenichi and his uncle, who are in search of missing scientist Dr. Laughton. But Dr Laughton is the genius behind Duke Red's robot-building centre and also mastermind of the part-human, part-robot replacement daughter the Duke has requested, known as Tima. Ever more jealous of his father's interest in the Tima project, Rock attempts to kill the Doctor and Tima just as Kenichi and his uncle arrive. However, Kenichi and his uncle rescue Tima and Rock pursues them through the robot underworld. Tima then starts to learn what it's like to be a girl and promptly falls in love with Kenichi. But it soon transpires that she has a special place in the Duke's plans and things go from bad to worse as the Duke plugs her into the robot grid, elevating her to serene leader of all Metropolis with disastrous results...