Bones, one of the best anime studios, is cooking up something really special for its 25th anniversary

2023 marks the 25th anniversary of Bones, and in the winter season of 2024, we’ll finally get to see the series they picked up for on anniversary edition: Metallic blush.

When trying to name anime studios that are the best of the best, no list would be complete without Bones. In fact, Bones is behind an unusually large share of the best anime series of the last 25 years. We’re talking about much-loved megahits like Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood, My Hero Academia, Mob Psycho 100, Bungo Stray Dogs, Soul Eater, Space Dandy– the list goes on and on. Bones was founded in 1998 by three alumni of Sunrise, the studio behind numerous space travel sci-fi classics such as Cowboy bebop and Gundam.

The first episode of their anniversary project, Metallic blushdebuted at Anime NYC in late November 2023, and it was immediately apparent that Metallic blush is worthy of being the festive crown jewel of Bones. Metallic blush is a completely original story that is not borrowed from a manga or light novel. It is set in a future where humans have colonized Mars and coexist with androids (called “Neans” in the series’ universe), who they treat as a class of subhuman servants. This inflated sense of privilege on the part of the people is mainly shown in the first half of the first episode.

like Space Dandy, Metallic blush plays off well-worn sci-fi and space tropes against unusual partners. There are many Blade Runner-as a sense of the simultaneous chic of the spectacle and the endurance of a society that has been destroyed. Meanwhile, our hero is a cute girl of incredible age who only eats chocolate bars. Plus, there is a random mechanism.

To teenage girls and mechs

The phrase “cute girls” appears frequently as red metalliccreative and marketing teams talk about the show’s main characters, Rouge Redstar (killer sci-fi name) and Naomi Ortman. And, yes, they are obviously cute and act in ways that befit teenage girls. But just like in-game archetypes in the larger series, there’s clearly a lot going on with them, behavior that even seems to contradict an “ah, cute girl!” type conversion.

We meet Rouge as she works as a personal assistant to a glamorous club singer named Sarah Fitzgerald (a composite of two immortal jazz singers, Ella Fitzgerald and Sarah Vaughan). Rouge acts like she’s a little talkative, but there’s an undeniable intentionality to her demeanor—a pull and a push that deepens toward the end of the episode.

The mechanisms of Metallic blush maybe not the variety most anime fans are used to. When we think of ‘meh’, we tend to think of the huge figures of Gundam or Neon Genesis Evangelionor perhaps roughly the tank-sized figures c Code Geass. But red metallicthe mechs are human-sized – maybe just with fancy heels added. They feel more like transformations of the character in question than a robot to enter.

Speaking at the Anime NYC panel, series compositor, supervising director, and highly regarded mech designer Yutaka Izubuchi brought up tokusatsu— Japanese action television series and movies that rely heavily on practical special effects — as a major design influence. Although there is a lot of giant mech tokusatsuIzubuchi raised Kamen Riderand Western audiences would not be far off the mark at all if they were reminded Power Rangers— but very rough and stylish Power Rangers. This unusual definition of “meh” in Metallic blush adds to the intrigue of the series as a whole.

First impression

As I sat in the audience and watched red metallicwith the first episode, I couldn’t help but be terribly impressed. The backgrounds were stunning, the characters struck a delicate balance between elegant and intriguing, and the world-building had real depth. The first episode inspired a lot of confidence that the lore is well thought out and obviously rich, with Metallic blush obviously the kind of series that will offer explanations through the characters’ natural dialogue when it comes up.

In an interview after the viewing, series composition writer Yutaka Izubuchi and Bones president Masahiko Minami made it very clear that the world-building around Metallic blush it extends even beyond the confines of the show.

The epic scale of the world is evident within the first episode. To watch Metallic blush is to watch a veteran studio attempt something truly ambitious. And it’s also damn not a breath of fresh air to see a sci-fi anime set in space with two female leads. Even as a fan of Bones’ vast portfolio of work, I couldn’t help but feel deeply impressed – and excited to see what the series had in store.

Metallic blush will premiere on Crunchyroll in January 2024.

(featured image: Bones)

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