Metropolis, a Greek word actually consisting of two words - meter (mother) and polis (city). Hence, metropolis can be translated into English as mother city. Curiously, some languages prefer an even stronger translation: In Czech, for example, they like to refer to their own metropolis as Praha, matka mest, which literally means, Prague, mother of cities.

In the ancient times, the term metropolis was reserved to a specific type of a city: The capital of an empire, state, kingdom and other places from which "the rest of the world" (or at least some major territory) was ruled. Thus a metropolis would rank considerably higher than a provincial city.

In modern days, any major city likes to be thought of as a metropolis, even if it is not the seat of the government. This is true particularly of the cities in the United States because a typical US State Capital is not a big city. By the same token, most US States have at least one big city which is not the Capital of that State.

Furthermore, at least in the US, the population in the area surrounding a major city is typically much larger than the population of the city itself. The two populations are typically added up and published as the population of the greater metropolitan area.

Naturally, if we follow the ancient tradition, any State Capital still deserves the title of metropolis even if it is not the cultural and business center of that state.

So, a modern meaning of the word metropolis often is any place which is a political, cultural, or economic center, though not necessarily all of the above (we might even think of E2 as a virtual metropolis).

Curiously, there is a Metropolis association which accepts any city as its member if it is a capital of a country or if it has at least one million inhabitants. It calls itself the World Association of the major metropolises. It is a somewhat strange association in that no US city is a member, nor are any of the four capitals of Central European countries (Prague, Vienna, Bratislava, Budapest.

Editorial: In my opinion calling oneself the World Association of the major metropolises is insensitive at least, even outright offensive to non-members. For one thing, a city either is a metropolis, or it is not, there are no major ones, and certainly not the major ones. And if there were any such things, certainly at least some of the cities in the US and the capitals of Central European countries would qualify. You can see a world map with the member cities listed at

Metropolis is also the home to a seven foot tall fiberglass statue of Superman. The statue was erected in 1986, after a small group of locals put together about $1000 to do it.

Metropolis' association with Superman began in the early 70s, when Robert Westerfield moved to Metropolis from Owensboro, KY. Surprised that the town had no formal association with Superman, he spearheaded the movement to officially "adopt" Superman.

In 1973, a museum dedicated to all things Superman, The Amazing World of Superman was built. Unfortunately, due to a gasoline shortage at that time, long delays in the completion of Interstate 24, and other factors, the museum closed a year later. All of the merchanside and fixtures were auctioned off. The Superman association was pretty much abandoned until 1979, when the first Superman movie came out. As Metropolis was getting indundated with telephone calls about Superman, they hit upon the idea of the annual Superman Celebration.

Review of Metropolis (2001)

|Directed by Rintaro
|Screenplay by Katsuhiro Otomo
|Based on manga by Osamu Tezuka
|Manga based on Fritz Lang's 1927 movie of the same name

Metropolis pulls character animation from the 50s, background animation from the most high-tech computer technology, and music from American jazz. Its plot is taken from both a good sci-fi/fantasy book and a story of civil strife —- with a little Blade Runner thrown in for good measure. And it does it damn well.

Without even getting into the plot whatsoever, one must say that the audio and visuals were masterfully done. The animation style pulled straight from the 1950s manga was set on top of the jazz from the same time period. This amazing combination set with the state-of-the-art computer generated futuristic city of Metropolis.

The music that was chosen for the movie is nearly humorous, especially in the latter scenes. However, it does do the movie perfect justice, allowing the nearly ironic music to actually reinforce the scene, thus making each scene (especially the ending) twice as powerful. This helps reinforce English-speaking watchers with something powerful to listen to, as they will miss the Japanese-spoken dialog (there are subtitles, of course).

The city of Metropolis is filled with both real and false life. You see, humans have finally created artificial life that is just as powerful as their real living counterparts. This creates natural problems that have been predicted in movies since the dawn of the art form, such as the civil strife involved with creating a life form that can compete with humans socially, in the work force, and for rights. Humans start revolting against robots, and wish to deny their rights. However, robots already feel as if they do not have enough rights as it is. Robots are titled as second-class citizens simply because they cannot have feelings like humans do. This is questioned with several key robots during the movie, which are undoubtedly “special”. These robots are shown as full characters, and not just industrial tools. This factor alone makes this movie extremely different from previous movies, and creates a completely new impression of robots among its viewers.

Each movie has its flaws, however. In Metropolis, its flaws revolve around the concept itself. This movie isn’t your typical anime movie, and isn’t exactly easy for most people to grasp. The animation style is something interesting, but also is very foreign (about 50 years foreign, exactly) to viewers. The music, while really wonderful, is placed in the movie at odd times that many viewers might not understand. I must say that it took me a while to really sink in… about a few days, to be exact. But, that’s where the flaws really end.

An easily understandable plot separates Metropolis from other anime movies, and the other aspects of its design surely define it as a true masterpiece. I just can’t wait until this comes out on DVD in this country. However, it is only playing in two theatres in the United States - both in New York City (bigDATup!). Anyone not living in New York will probably see it first at home. I for one would be pleased to watch it spin in my DVD player!

GoogaGrade: A

Update: 02/07/02--Ereneta has informed me that Metropolis is now playing in Los Angeles (CA), New York (NY), Boston (MA), San Francisco (CA), Washington, D.C., Austin (TX), Seattle (WA), Chicago (IL), Toronto (ON), Vancouver (BC), and Honolulu (HI)
Thanks for the info, Ereneta!

Update: 03/24/02--Qousqous let me know that Metropolis is now playing in Portland (OR). By this time, I assume that it's in many more places than are listed here. The DVD's release date, btw, has been set back until April 23rd in the US. I assume that this is due to the success in the theaters.

Update: 05/02/02--Today I bought the movie on DVD, as it came out last Tuesday. I must comment on the true lack of good English voice-overs. I do not with upon my worst enemies the fate of watching Metropolis with the provided English voice-overs. They are horrid, and many feel they actually make the movie feel as if it is progressing slower. Stick with the Japanese voices w/ English subs, I say.

Update: 06/27/02--mkb has announced that Metropolis is currently all over French theatres.

An English-language weekly magazine published in and about Tokyo by Crisscross KK media.

Metropolis (metoroporisu in Katakana) is delivered to 67,500 subscribers and has an additional 30,000 readers beyond that, according to its publisher ( Its readership is "79% business professionals in Tokyo with an average income of ¥437,375/month," again according to its publisher's statistics.

When I attended International Christian University's Summer Courses in Japanese in 2002, the administrators always had several dozen copies of Metropolis on hand. It's very useful for finding information on concerts, festivals, restaurants, and other information relevant to day-to-day life in Tokyo. While the magazine's articles are written entirely in English, they display a complete familiarity with Japanese culture and life in Tokyo.

By far, though, the most entertaining part of Metropolis is the classified ads. Since the magazine caters to expatriates and business travelers, specialty advertisers are always seen in the back pages. Ads for hostess bars promise huge payoffs for attractive foreign ladies, particularly blondes, looking for work. Head shops are also well-represented. Importers sell American groceries and items like books and movies at highly inflated prices.

Ads for merchandise and services are pretty boring. What intrigued my classmates and me were the personals. If you've never heard of enjo kosai, consider the personals to be a crash course. Some of the "men seeking women" ads are from "discreet" American businessmen who seek young Japanese women for fun. Likewise, some of the "women seeking men" ads come from young (19-21) Japanese women who want a sugar daddy to buy them expensive gifts. This doesn't describe all the ads, of course; many of them are for language instruction or friendship with a business or military person. Most of the personals are in English, but Metropolis prints ads in any language. Some ads are in Japanese, a few are in Chinese or Korean, and rare others are in western European languages. Every week my classmates and I would seek out the most outrageous ads from kinky 40-something white guys and Engrish-speaking ko gals alike.

All of the content in Metropolis, including those wacky personals, are on-line at I strongly recommend it to any gaijin in need of a weekly guide to Tokyo.

Me*trop"o*lis (?), n. [L. metropolis, Gr. , prop., the mother city (in relation to colonies); mother + city. See Mother, and Police.]


The mother city; the chief city of a kingdom, state, or country.

[Edinburgh] gray metropolis of the North. Tennyson.

2. Eccl.

The seat, or see, of the metropolitan, or highest church dignitary.

The great metropolis and see of Rome. Shak.


© Webster 1913.

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