OP: 「Rouge」 by Yuuka
「紅は暁に奏でる」 (Kurenai wa Akatsuki ni Kanaderu)
“Crimson Is the Sound of Dawn”
Metallic Rouge’s first episode makes a strong impression as a sleek, glossy cyberpunk story about an android detective who seeks to hunt down rebellious androids for a secret organization. While the story needs a little extra time in the oven to cook, its setting and animation are rich in detail, creating some high hopes for the show.
Much of the first episode thrives on setting up Mars as a rough society to live as an android. Many rely on a fuel known as Nectar that is regularly resold, and taken by humans who see their life source as an expensive thrill. The Asimov Code makes it so that androids can’t attack humans, making it easy to exploit them, steal from them, and dispose of them with little to no resistance.
With this in mind, I am siding against humans in this story. If Aletheia is an organization set up for the best interest of only humans as they send out the nean assassin Rouge to kill their android enemies, then this will be a story about a government agent sent out to exterminate an already vulnerable minority group on Mars. Stories of cybernetic Pinkerton are only fun if you don’t think about the sociopolitical factors behind every scene you watch.
It does have the standard trap that comes with telling a Blade Runner-esque story where Rouge’s first impression is far from sympathetic. We spend so much time outlining how awful humans are and how disposable androids are that it’s difficult to root for a character who is tasked with killing more androids. But for the time being, Giallon’s assumption that Rouge is a dog for the Aletheia agency doesn’t sound far off when she’s out hunting down other androids for a bigoted society.
The banter between Rouge and Naomi gives them some nice chemistry, so at the very least, there’s a ton of potential in their dynamic. We’re still in the process of finding out who they are as characters, so the details on them aren’t as meaty as what they give you as far as the lore goes. In its defense, Rouge appears to have memory trouble where she doesn’t remember the exploits that Metal Rouge goes on, so there could be some kind of manipulative factor behind her dirty work.
It also can’t be overstated that the animation and music are very impressive. With much of the staff from Carole & Tuesday and Super Crooks carrying over, it doesn’t disappoint in delivering sleek and stylish artwork across the first episode. I’m personally the most excited to hear more of Towa Tei’s music in the series as a huge fan of his solo work and his contributions with Deee-Lite.
That being said, saying that the show’s main draw so far is that it looks pretty and the dialogue is clever is like saying that shaking your keys makes owning a car worthwhile. I wouldn’t want this to be the type of show that encourages you to shut off your mind, especially if you’re dealing with heavy themes like the personal autonomy of marginalized groups.
I have faith that they’ll be able to live up to the high expectations that are placed on the anime as Bones’ 25th-anniversary anime. Hopefully, we learn more about who Rouge is and how her experiences shape her given that what we’re dealing with has far more gravity than just being a mindless show where robots mash together. I’m hoping that I’m wrong and that my nitpicks for the first episode are only because of information that they’re more comfortable revealing later on.