During Anime Expo 2023, Studio Bones released a brand-new trailer for its upcoming cyberpunk anime, Metallic Rouge. Its lush futuristic cityscape, in tandem with its inventive cybernetic character design for its leading protag, hopes to wow fans with an affinity for strong female leads with magical girl transformations.
Metallic Rouge follows Rouge, a Nean (android) woman tasked with hunting down rogue Neans plotting to take over the world. Think replicants in Blade Runner. However, instead of transforming into a sailor scout like in other magical girl anime like Sailor Moon, Rouge transforms into a cybernetic bug-like creature akin to the heroes in the cult-classic tokusatsu series, Kamen Rider, while battling her fellow Neans.
Unlike its teaser trailer, which featured lush jazz music by Taisei Iwasaki (Blood Blockade Battlefront), its new trailer shows off the lavish world Rouge inhabits, introduces her plucky human sidekick, Naomi, and gives fans a better look at her cool cyberpunk magical girl transformation sequence. Metallic Rouge is directed by Motonobu Hori (Carole and Tuesday) and Yutaka Izubuchi (the mechanical designer of Mobile Police Patlabor and director of Space Battleship Yamato 2199) and features character designs by Toshihiro Kawamoto (character designer from Cowboy Bebop. Check out the new trailer:
In an Anime Expo interview, I spoke with Masahiko Minami, the president of Studio Bones, and character designer Kawamoto about what it was like to work on Metallic Rouge as the studio celebrates its 25th anniversary. When asked whether the show would feel like a blend of Blade Runner meets Kamen Rider, Kawamoto responded saying my instincts have “served me well” because my first impression about Metallic Rouge was “spot on.”
“[However] Metallic Rouge is an original work that is based on a completely different world than anything [else] that you’ve seen, including those other works that you’ve just mentioned,” Kawamoto said, adding that he couldn’t disclose anything more about the anime’s story than what’s shown in its second trailer.
When designing the looks of Rouge and the rest of the cast, Kawamoto said he took into account the input of Hori and Minami and the anime’s other main staff, while loosely basing them on some of his past projects.
“If we’re talking about which of those [past projects Metallic Rouge] is leaning toward, I guess we can say that it’s kind of leaning toward Cowboy Bebop,” Kawamoto said. “But at the same time Cowboy Bebop, that style was very heavily influenced by the opinion of that director [Shinichiro Watanabe]. [Metallic Rouge] has a different director and is also very different from [Cowboy Bebop] as well.”
While it would be easy to classify the anime as a sci-fi show going off its futuristic aesthetic, Kawamoto said he wasn’t going for a sci-fi feel when designing the streetwear of Metallic Rouge’s characters.
“If you look at the promotional video clip, you’ll probably see that the clothing that they’re using is a little bit more of a modern casual feel,” Kawamoto said. “There was no intention to make it sci-fi-esque in style, you know, at least in terms of the clothing. I mean, there’s nothing really sci-fi-esque about that.”
Be that as it may, Minami says Metallic Rouge will tackle how humanity and its dependence on modern and futuristic technologies have evolved, which will even touch on how in-universe sci-fi creative works have impacted the world of Metallic Rouge.
Metallic Rouge is slated to release in January 2024.
Kotaku is covering everything at Anime Expo 2023, including big announcements at panels and exclusive one-on-one interviews with the industry’s biggest creators. Whether you’re a seasoned anime fan or a newbie, you can keep up with all things Anime Expo 2023 here.