Metallic Rouge

Studio: Bones
Source: Original Series created by Yutaka Izubichi
Platform: Crunchyroll

Welcome to The Beat’s weekly coverage of Metallic Rogue the new cyberpunk anime from Bones, the studio that did RahXephon, Carole and Tuesday, and Sk8 the Infinity.

Cyberpunk and anime go together like peanut butter and jelly.  So many anime classics fall into that subgenre of science fiction: Akira, Bubblegum Crisis, Ghost in the Shell, Serial Experiments Lain, and Ergo Proxy to name but a handful. Something about cybperpunk whether it be the explorations of artificial intelligence, or the detailed worldbuilding, appeals greatly to Japanese animators and storytellers. As the series meant to mark Bones 25th anniversary as a studio, Metallic Rogue has pulled out all of the stops. Created by RahXephon’s Yutaka Izubuchi and character designs by studio co-founder Toshihiro Kawamoto (Cowboy Bebop, Wolf’s Rain), Metallic Rogue is off to a promising start full of intrigue and fantastic action.

Moving forward reviews will pop up every Friday. Since we missed last week’s premiere, we’ll cover the first two episodes today and be back Friday for episode 3. So grab your chocolate and buckle up! This article will be spoiler heavy so read at your own risk


Episode 1 Recap/Review: “Crimson Is the Sound of Dawn” (⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️)

“More human than human” is the motto of the Tyrell Corporation in the classic Ridley Scott film Blade Runner. The android Replicants in that film are designed to look human but possess far superior physical abilities. Like its anime predecessors in cyberpunk, Metallic Rouge takes after Blade Runner in its visual presentation of a future where humans and androids called Neans live on Mars.

The Neans are the labor force only distinguishable by their grayish skin and scars on their faces. To operate, they require a substance called Nectar and if they don’t receive it, they instantly and painfully deactivate.

However, not all Neans are subservient or easily identifiable. There’s a terrorist group called The Immortal Nine, made up of Neans who can pass as human. Rouge Redstar, a Nean with special skills, and her partner Naomi Orthmann are on a mission to stop them and suspect that famous nightclub singer Sarah Fitzgerald might be one of them.


If that seems vague, “Crimson Is the Sound of Dawn” introduces more mysteries than clear plot points in the first episode. A lot of terms get thrown out like Asimov Code and Panacea Corporation which seem more like textural elements than plot points at this point. No reason is given for Rouge and Naomi hunting down the Immortal Nine. Other than they take on armored mechanized forms and steal a massive shipment of Nectar, what exactly the Immortal Nine want or why they’re so dangerous also is foggy for the moment. What reason did Immortal Nine member Sarah/Violet Keane escape and hide her identity from them? Why are her dealings with an executive from the Panacea Corporation important to Naomi and Rogue? The episode opens with an Immortal Nine member Hell Gallion stealing a shipment of Nectar but then it never brings it back up. Also Rouge’s armored form is referred to as the Red Gladiator and seems to be feared by the Immortal Nine members but no real reason is given. Even if these mysteries aren’t immediately answered, they offer an intriguing start for the show. 

These mysteries at least do the work of creating a world that feels occupied with crime and entertainment clubs. Clearly, the Panacea Corporation is a potentially evil corporation that may have something to do with Nectar or the Immortal Nine, and viewers see Neans treated like second-class citizens who work menial jobs while humans treat them poorly.

The concept of Nectar adds an interesting wrinkle to the world building in this episode. The Neans need it to live but humans regularly steal Nectar for use as a recreational drug. That the episode opens with a Nectar deal gone bad, giving an idea how desired this substance is by humans and Neans alike.

Visually, the unammed city on Mars in this episode is a world of neon. The buildings are massive, everything is over lit, and the colors just pop. It’s all stuff you want out of a cyberpunk anime without feeling too much of a knockoff.


Episode writer Toshizo Nemoto sets up an interesting dynamic between Naomi and Rouge. They initially communicate with each other through a robot bird until circumstances force them to meet in person. The dynamic between the more reserved Rouge and the bubbly Naomi is familiar but also feels more sisterly. They share an obsession with food: Rouge has an affinity for chocolate while Naomi loves her noodles. It’s nice seeing an anime duo not constantly bicker.

A fight sequence between Rouge and Sarah/Violet at the end of the episode is a perfect demonstration of how Metallic Rouge is meant to showcase Bones as a powerhouse animation studio. Some Neans can take on an armored form similar to the hard suits from Bubblegum Crisis. In their armored forms, Rouge and Sarah engage in a fight for survival. As storyboarded by series director Motonobu Hori and storyboard artist Yasushi Muraki, the fighting is fast and furious but every moment and movement looks incredible. The camera moves and glides as the fight progresses. Sometimes anime series skimp on the animation to save on budget. The animators at Bones clearly have no issue spending yen to make the fights and their series look good.


Verdict: “Crimson Is the Sound of Dawn” is a promising start for the series. The episode sets up a world that’s familiar but has enough differences to make it interesting. There’s a lot of mysteries set up here that hopefully will be answered by the end of the series. The sisterly relationship between leads Rouge and Naomi seems fairly unique for a cyberpunk anime. On top of it all the series looks incredibly stylish from the neon color scheme in this episode to the dynamic fight sequence that ends it. Metallic Rouge hasn’t done anything too different with the cyberpunk genre so far but what it does, it does well.   

Episode 2 Recap/Review: “Wander in the Labyrinth” (⭐⭐1/2)


The mysteries set up in the first episode begin to deepen in episode 2, “Wander in the Labyrinth.”

Thanks to Naomi, we get a deeper understanding of Mars and a conflict between alien species The Visitors and The Usurpers. Also it’s revealed that the Neans were created as a means to defeat The Usurpers and turn the tide of war. The Neans were programmed with the Asimov Code, which if you’ve seen or read Issac Asimov’s I, Robot should be very familiar. Basically, Neans can’t hurt humans or at least the Neans that aren’t like Rouge or The Immortal Nine. Since we’ve seen Immortal Nine member Hell Gallion kill people and Rouge is a murder suspect, this revelation hints at why Rouge and Naomi are hunting down The Immortal Nine.


The bulk of the episode though is spent on the road. Rogue and Naomi want to get to Wellstown where there may be another member of the Immortal Nine hiding. On the way, they’re attacked by mercenaries called Suns of Ares who want Rouge for reasons. The group evades them hiding in a forest where they encounter a Cylinder Head, a leftover Usurper weapon from the war. When someone wakes two of them up, Rouge spends the rest of the episode fighting them.

Compared to the more expository the first episode, “Wander in the Labyrinth” is a full on action episode. Suns of Ares show up in tanks to shoot first and ask questions later. There’s a lot of chasing through the Martian desert. The fight with the Cylinder Heads, fantastically designed by Tomoyuki Hirao (Evangelion 3.0+1.0: Thrice Upon a Time), is dynamically animated. Their lasers cut tanks in half. One picks up another tank and blows a massive hole in it. Rogue bounces around trying to cut through the Cylinder Heads’ almost impenetrable defenses. The action scenes are a lot of fun with a lot of satisfying kabooms.

However, the focus on action is more of a detriment to forwarding the narrative of the series. Given that the first episode only introduces viewers to the two leads, there’s still no explanation or back story for either of them. Other than potential hints related to the Asimov Code or the war, there’s still no concrete reason why Naomi and Rouge are hunting down the Immortal Nine. Are they working for a government agency or are they doing this out of a shared trauma? Instead, we’re given more characters with little backstory to the point it becomes a joke when someone just randomly shows up while the group of travelers hides in the forest. The episode does build a little on the fact that Rouge’s armored form is a bit of a notorious legend among Neans. We meet a Nean war veteran traveling with their masters who spots her fighting armored up and seems to recognize her Red Gladiator form. It’s just frustratng that character development is being sacrificed this early in the series to continue to set up more mysteries.


Verdict: The second episode of Metallic Rouge goes heavy on the action but light on the characters and narrative. The fight sequences are incredible. Once again Bones shows that they know who to animate action. Unfortunately, outside of a few moments, the series continues adding characters rather than investing time in the series leads. While nothing needs to be governed by plot, forwarding the narrative more than an inch would be nice.

Metallic Rouge is currently streaming on Crunchyroll. New episodes drop every Thursday