Metallic Rouge is the original animated series from Studio BONES celebrating the studio’s 25th anniversary coming January 2024. A wholly original production, the series features work from Chief Director Yutaka Izubuchi, with Motonobu Hori as Director, Toshihiro Kawamoto as Character Designer, and music from Taisie Iwasaki. With only an announcement trailer, there isn’t too much known about the series, and with original animation, that’s exciting.
Metallic Rouge takes place in a world where humans and androids, known as Nean, coexist. We follow Rouge, a Nean girl, who is on a mission on Mars with her partner Naomi. The mission: Murder nine Nean who are leading a rebellion against the human government. At Anime Expo 2023, we got the chance to speak with Masahiko Minami, President of Studio Bones, and Toshihiro Kawamoto, the Character Designer & Animation Director of Metallic Rouge.
One of the immediate things that stood out about Metallic Rouge was that while fans who saw the trailer may immediately connect this new cyberpunk series with Blade Runner, the actual science fiction inspiration comes from Star Trek. Masahiko Minami explained, “Working on the original story, first of all, we had communication with the supervision editor Yutaka Izubuchi (Chief Director and Head Writer on Metallic Rouge), before we actually did the story and the anime itself, we needed to build a world. Honestly, what came up was the title at the time, and we kept relating it back to Star Trek.
“In Star Trek, for example, you have the human race that is populating and expanding in space. Then you have the overdevelopment of technology and the overuse of technology. Within that context, you have many different stories that develop within that one world. In [Metalic Rouge] we have a solar system and a world that is created, but on a smaller scale, we have just one girl, Rouge. We wanted to focus on creating that story around her.”
Because Metallic Rouge is an original story, building a new world is both a large undertaking but a fantastic creative endeavor. On that point, Minami explained, “In terms of an original anime, you have to build it from zero. It’s the animation staff that has to do that building from scratch.” He continued, calling out the dedication of the studio BONES staff, “You have the person who made the original concept who is the most important creator in this context, but the people who have the most know-how about the animation are going to be our staff. In that sense, the staff that does the animation have to have all of the skills to [build this all from zero], and that’s critical to create a good anime. We are putting all of that skill into creating an original work and not an adapted one.”
And that skill is clear in just the small amount of animation fans got to see in the trailer for Metallic Rouge. For us, one part of that trailer stuck out was the transformation. Akin to that of magical girls in light and grace, dissimilar to that of say a superhero or Kamen Rider, Rouge’s transformation brings back the sailor senshi vibrancy, and that was intentional.
When we asked about the connection between Rouge’s transformation and magical girls, Kawamoto responded, “The idea of having her transform within this series—there is a light that appears above her, and she transforms—that’s an idea that came from Izabuchi-san.”
Minami followed up with an explanation, “We’re talking about the transformation of a female character so instead of making it this mechanical transformation like iron man, we wanted it to be more suave and a softer transition in the transformation. Because of that, there is an aspect where it will resemble magical girls.”
With little information about Metallic Rouge out, we wanted to know what exactly Minami and Kawamoto were excited for fans to experience. While Minami kept his answer short, suggesting to watch the promotional video for the series, Kawamoto was excited for fans to see the world that studio BONES had created and to do so week by week. Kawamoto said, “…All we have right now is in the promotional clip, but out of all of the ideas of what we had, that clip is 1/100th of what we had. I want viewers to watch and enjoy and savor each new episode one at a time as the new world unfolds. I am excited for viewers to watch it all episode by episode.”
Metallic Rouge is blending sci-fi, magical girls, Star Trek, and a vibrant cyberpunk aesthetic into a series that I know I can’t wait to see.