Metallic Rouge is coming in hot with arresting urgency and vibrant worldbuilding. Metallic Rogue, the latest original anime from Bones (Mob Psycho 100, My Hero Academia) as they celebrate their 25th anniversary, promises a dense lore with mecha-inspired designs and cyberpunk aesthetics that recall Blade Runner imagery. The shades of the world first capture our interest in the premiere, which goes heavy on exposition as we try to acclimate to this world and the characters guiding us through it. From scorched pink backdrops and mecha suits that bleed reds and purple to the futuristic cityscapes, the visuals and the utilization of intriguing, contrasting color pallets are arresting, gaining our attention even throughout the shaky first steps of worldbuilding.
Directed by Motonobu Hori, Metallic Rogue Episode 1 introduces this futuristic, science fiction story that drops us straight into a society where humans coexist with androids called Neans. The “Immortal Nine” threatens this peace, rebelling against and trying to take down the Human-Nean society. The series follows Rouge Redstar (Yume Miyamoto,) an android going undercover as Metal Rouge, and her human counterpart Naomi (Tomoyo Kurosawa) as they are tasked with hunting these rebels down to maintain order as they travel to Mars for greater clues.
The first thing that stands out in Metallic Rouge Episode 1 is the startling vibrancy and use of color. Bones has a strong history of bringing original anime to life with series such as Carol & Tuesday and Sk8 the Infinity. Cowboy Bebop character designer Toshihiro Kawamoto takes on the same role here, with the main two characters beautifully conceptualized and brought to life with distinguishing traits.
Metallic Rogue Episode 1 lays the foundation of the world as Metal Rouge works undercover to out a member following the Immortal Nine. In this case, it’s a woman who has mistaken Metal for a girl in need of shelter and a workplace without understanding the threat she’s now invited under her roof. There’s a lot of jargon specific to this world thrown around, becoming messy in its plotting.
Written by Toshizo Nemoto, the premiere flounders a bit as it attempts to fully establish the goals and stakes of the world within a 20-minute episode. Metal and Naomi remain enigmatic figures, their main traits being Metal being an android and Naomi, a human working together. There’s still plenty to be discovered as we follow them to their next big project in what looks to be a series seeking a mission-of-the-week style format.
There are many solid and thematic ideas at the core of this type of story where the narrative posits what kind of life gets to enjoy existence. As is the case with many stories about the existence of androids and artificial intelligence, from Blade Runner 2049 to Pluto, Metallic Rouge Episode 1 observes — albeit with less delicacy thus far — humanity’s inability to coexist. The premiere flirts with ideas of the constant warring that happens when life is threatened or limitations are put on a lifeform’s ability to thrive. It might be muddied in the attempt to streamline the world and ensure we’re all on board before launching further into more excellent mystery and bigger plots, but the story’s heart is intriguing enough.
However, it hardly matters with how gorgeous the production is. The direction prioritizes POV shots to immerse us fully in these characters’ perspectives. The action in the last portion is ground shaking. The mechas have Evangelion-style influences with lithe, sinewy designs, and the score by Taisei Iwasaki further adds a pulsing sense of excitement to the proceedings.
Again, it all comes down to the immaculate color stories and detailed elements that make Metallic Rouge Episode 1 such a compelling premiere episode. One shot, in particular, of a bridge against an orange sky cements itself as a must-watch. The visuals do as much — if not more — to tell the story of this world and its instability as towering architecture seems caught in a blaze of fire despite there being no actual flames.
Metallic Rouge Episode 1 is, at times, shaky in its setup. The series’ start is saved by the tremendous amount of artistry it displays from the moment it begins. While we’ll need more time to fully immerse ourselves in this world to become emotionally tethered to the main characters and their stories, the series presents lush visuals and animation that make it difficult to tear your eyes away. Each frame offers something exciting to look at, even if the story wavers in maintaining that same level of attention.
Metallic Rouge Episode 1 premieres January 10 on Crunchyroll.
Metallic Rouge Episode 1
Metallic Rouge Episode 1 is, at times, shaky in its setup but is saved by the tremendous amount of artistry it displays from the moment it begins. While we’ll need more time to fully immerse ourselves in this world to become emotionally tethered to the main characters and their stories, the series presents lush visuals and animation that make it difficult to tear your eyes away.