Without question, METROPOLIS ($28) is one of the most visually spectacular animes ever produced. The images are sometimes dizzyingly beautiful to look at, making this film a treat for any fan of anime or animation in general. Thematically similar to the 1927 Fritz Lang classic of the same name, this METROPOLIS features characters whose designs and motivations clearly come from the world of anime. Set in the future, METROPOLIS is the story of a multi-tiered society, whose distinctions are drawn along class lines. Just as the inhabitants of this Metropolis are celebrating the completion of the Ziggurat- a superb tower that will serve as the cityís crowning achievement, a detective from outside the city comes in search of a scientist whose work has gone beyond the boundaries of the law.
However, as it turns out, the scientist has been hired by Duke Red, one of the cityís most powerful men, to build a super robot named Tima that looks exactly like Dukeís dead daughter. When the Dukeís adopted son Rock learns of the Robot, he kills the scientist and tries to destroy Tima. However, Tima is rescued by Kenichi, the nephew of the detective that came to the sprawling Metropolis in search of the outlaw scientist. Soon the two are on the run from Rock, who will stop at nothing to destroy Tima. Unfortunately, things donít become any better for Kenichi and Tima when the two uncover the true reason why the Duke had a robot created in the image of his daughter.
Columbia TriStar Home Entertainment has made METROPOLIS available on DVD in a 1.85:1 wide screen presentation that has been enhanced for 16:9 displays. This is truly an excellent presentation of such a complexly beautiful animated film. The image is as crisp and detailed as the animation can be when transcribed to a video format. On a large wide screen display, METROPOLIS is indeed an impressive looking DVD. The element used to for the transfer is free from flaws, with a bit of noticeable grain being the only reminder that METROPOLIS originated on film. Colors are rich and vividly rendered with no signs of chroma noise or smearing. Blacks are pure and the picture has very clean contrast. Image depth is hard to quantify in animation, but the mixing of computer images with traditional cell animation tends to give a flatter appearance to the 2D images that are laid over 3D backgrounds. The cleanly authored dual layer DVD does not display any overt signs of digital compression artifacts.
The METROPOLIS features a goodly amount of soundtrack options. Two versions of the original Japanese language track are present on the DVD in 5.1 channel flavors of Dolby Digital and DTS. An English language dub is also provided in the Dolby Digital 5.1 channel format. All of the digital soundtrack options offer impressive sound; purists will stick with the Japanese language, while those wanting to take in the filmís rich visuals, without have to read subtitles will gravitate towards the English dub.
The Japanese language tracks are superbly mixed, taking full advantage of the discrete capabilities of the digital formats. Sounds emanate from every channel and move effortlessly around the beautifully cohesive soundstage. Voices are recorded with a full natural timbre, although judging the intelligibility of the Japanese language is beyond by ability. The bass channel provides the track with a very solid bottom that can give oneís subwoofer a respectable workout. Music is beautifully integrated into the sound mix and is reproduced with excellent fidelity. The DTS track has a warmer, richer sound than its Dolby Digital counterpart, but the standard bearer sounds quite wonderful, so donít think you are being shortchanged if your system doesnít offer DTS. A French Dolby Surround soundtrack is also encoded onto the DVD, as are English subtitles in two different translations. Other subtitle options include French, Spanish, Portuguese, Chinese, Korean, and Thai.
Full motion video, animation and sound serve to enhance the DVDís nicely designed interactive menus. Through the menus on disc one, access is provided to the standard scene selection and set up features, as well as a portion of the supplement materials. Actually, disc one only contains a theatrical trailer and bonus trailers. Disc two of the set is something of a novelty, since it is the first three-inch DVD released into the market. Since the smaller size lessens the discís capacity, this three-inch DVD is actually dual layered to contain all of the supplemental material.
Starting things off on disc two is the thirty-three minute Animax Special: The Making of Metropolis. The program is a Japanese language equivalent of the typical "making-of" featurettes that accompany many DVDs. English subtitles are provided for the narration and interview segments, which explain how METROPOLIS went from comic book form to motion picture. Eight minutes of additional interviews have also been included on the DVD and feature additional insights from the movieís director and screenwriter. A Photo Gallery has been included on the DVD that is actually a still file of character and production design drawings. The History of Metropolis is a text supplement that looks at the work from its initial inception in print as a comic to its development as a motion picture. Animation Comparisons utilize the multi-angle feature to allow one to view animated segments from the film in various stages of completion. Filmographies for the filmís director and story creator close out disc twoís supplements.
METROPOLIS is certainly one of the most visually arresting animes ever produced. Columbia TriStar has produced a DVD that fully captures the beauty of this animated film, as well as offering its equally stunning soundtrack with amazing clarity. If you are an animation fan, Japanese or otherwise, METROPOLIS is a film you will want to check out on DVD.
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