Metallic Rouge – Review

Metallic Rouge is an original anime series created by Bones in celebration of their 25th anniversary this year. It is written by Toshizo Nemoto, who has worked on episodes of Durarara!! and numerous Ultraman series, and Yutaka Izubuchi, primarily known for costume and mech design in shows such as Gundam Wing and Patlabor. Set in a far-future cyberpunk environment following a war with alien invaders in a stratified society between humans and androids called Neans. These Neans must abide by a set of absolute rules, laying the groundwork for a very interesting show.

Key art for Metallic Rouge featuring the main character Rouge Redstar beginning to transform

Studio Bones has a long history of anime excellence, with classics such as Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood and Wolf’s Rain, and modern super hits like My Hero Academia under their belt. They have always been known for excellent scene composition, fluid animation, and a high consistency of technical excellence across the board. I’m pleased to say that Metallic Rouge lives up to the studio’s legacy in these regards.

There are breath-taking action sequences, expressive character design and movement, and shots framed with clear care and knowledge of the art. On a technical and visual level, I can find nary a fault with the show. It will ease you into its world and is so easy to watch that you may find yourself slipping down a slope of binging the series. However, this engagement may be broken for you elsewhere.

Rouge looking over to the camera with the sea in the background

Metallic Rouge wears its inspiration on its sleeve, seemingly taking cues from a wide spectrum of film and TV. Shows like Ghost in the Shell, Blade Runner, I-Robot, and perhaps even Guren Lagann. There are no particularly overt homages, nothing that’ll have you jumping out of your seat shouting “I get that reference”, and certainly nothing that feels ripped off. Just a gentle subtle nod to great works that have come before. Alas, this may also be its undoing since by drawing these parallels, it also highlights the differences between them, namely in its plot.

Rouge and her partner Naomi looking down while Naomi eats tortilla chips

The characters themselves are very well written, each with their own quirks and distinct features. Interactions between the cast are naturally flowing and interesting to watch play out. In particular, I mostly found the relationship between our main character Rouge and her supporter Naomi to be fun and engaging. Mostly.

There are definitely some hiccups in the overall plot, with odd pacing and baffling plot points that tend to distract you from what’s occurring and draw you out of the experience. It feels as though they were trying to add some mystery to further audience engagement, and instead made things deliberately obtuse and a little frustrating.

Naomi grinning at Rouge while she holds a bar of chocolate

Music in the series works well, with compositions that fit scenes perfectly and really help to drive audience engagement, particularly when paired with the exceptional fight choreography. The voice acting is also praiseworthy, with excellent dubs in both English and Japanese. A particular mention must be made for the character designs of the chief Neans, whose designs appear as a mix between Super Sentai and Mechs, each being incredibly unique and exciting to see.

Rouge transformed into her combat mode fighting on top of a space ship overlooking Earth

In all, Metallic Rouge sits in an interesting place. While it never reaches the highs of its inspirations, it is clearly lovingly crafted and contains enough to keep you engaged throughout, without overstaying its welcome. It may not have anything new to say, but when it’s packaged this well, you can somewhat let that slide. For an original IP, I think this is a strong start that could absolutely be built upon further if they chose, or learn from their mistakes to create other new and original series in the future.

8/10 star rating





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