Metallic Rouge’s Staff on the World, Characters, and Music of Bones’ 25th Anniversary Sci-fi Anime

In honor of Studio BONES’s 25th anniversary, Anime Trending and other outlets sat down and interviewed the creative minds behind the studio’s newest anime, Metallic Rouge, at AnimeNYC 2023. The staff includes series composition and supervising director Yutaka Izubuchi, producer and president of BONES Masahiko Minami, and series music composer Taisei Iwasaki.

Set on Mars in the distant future, Metallic Rouge is a sci-fi action series centered around Rouge, an android who is set on destroying the ultra-powerful androids known as the Immortal Nine alongside her partner Naomi for mysterious reasons. Metallic Rouge draws heavy inspiration from the tokusatsu genre and blends Studio BONES’s action adventure with a 1940’s inspired jazz soundtrack to set the stage of this action-packed mystery on the red planet.

The environment in Metallic Rouge is very tech-noir. It has that environment. How did you want to envision this future of Mars in Metallic Rouge?

Yutaka Izubuchi: What we really want to focus on is that this isn’t Mars as we know it today — it’s really been [built] for the human species, and so it really has been transformed as a habitable community. Although it’s not the red planet as we know it, there’s an element of rouge, or crimson. These are the themes, and so Mars seemed like a very appropriate place to start, despite it no longer being the red planet as we know it in our time.

Anime Trending: Creating an original anime project has a lot of open creativity and opportunities to collaborate. So how did the project incorporate everyone’s feedback and ideas to create it? You mentioned during the panel using spaghetti Western for the music, and then the inspirations from tokusatsu for the designs to bring  that all together for Metallic Rouge.

Izubuchi: So the first thing we did was put together a sequence of events, or the chronological storyline, where this is the history of the world as they know it and then fitting within that chronological sequence. This is where the story of Metallic Rouge fits with the theme of this story arc, which involves the murdering of the siblings and cleaning up the lineage. As you watched, two out of the nine siblings at the beginning of the story are already taken out. 

And so all of these things fit together when you look at it in terms of, “Here is the basic historical flow of this world, and what is it that we really want to focus on and communicate within this art?” So, it’s a process of building all of the components, and then returning back to focus on that specific part of the storyline.


Where did the inspirations for the world of Metallic Rouge come from?

Izubuchi: I had a vision in my mind that preceded all of this. The vision is of a boy looking up, watching what looks like stars coming down — that’s the alien’s first contact with the human race, which is the first point at which the world begins. That visual was in my head, and all of these are consequences of that one image.

How does the trailer tagline “A crimson life until it reaches its end…” relate to the themes of Metallic Rouge?

Izubuchi: Absolutely! The core of the story is that we’re in a post war scenario , so there’s definitely soldiers, and the concept of soldiers, war, and death in the past. 

But what’s really interesting is that by bringing the world into a sci-fi environment, we’re able to tackle themes that are more challenging to discuss in the modern situation. We’re able to ask questions of social unrest in a way that isn’t so personal, but really gets at the core of the problem — the cultural aspect, prejudice, and segregation, which all of these things are much more challenging to discuss. If we make it too personal by removing some of that with the degree of separation of science fiction, we’re really able to highlight and tackle it as a theme within the content.


AT: Metallic Rouge has been advertised as a celebration of Studio BONES’s 25th anniversary. Why was Metallic Rouge chosen as an original to celebrate this anniversary?

Masahiko Minami: It’s 25 years, but it’s really only a quarter of a century. I want to emphasize that this is a starting point. It’s not a milestone, but it’s really to help propel us to the next quarter century and much more beyond. Metallic Rouge is a world that is easily adaptable for detective stories. You can fit in mystery, and you can add some elements of horror. It’s really becoming the base foundation for the many, many, more decades to come for animation and world expansion.

Out of the 25 original anime series and movies created by BONES, 15 of them contain sci-fi and/or mecha elements. Is it a coincidence that Metallic Rouge is a story with mecha elements?

Minami: One of the interesting things about animation is that you really are able to move pictures, graphics, and visions, so we’re not limited by anything but the imagination. So, the world of sci-fi is a perfect place for the imagination to lead and guide through an expression, because illustration can make anything possible. And what do you expect? I was from Sunrise, I just enjoy the world of sci-fi!

Let’s talk about Rouge and Naomi — we see the world and story through their eyes. What was it like creating these characters as protagonists?

Izubuchi: Initially, [Metallic Rouge] wasn’t a buddy-partner story, it was more of a single hero story. However, when I was thinking about the story, I wanted to add a little bit more dialogue for comedic relief to have a little moment of lightness and bring some cute, fun laughter. 

And actually, this may be my first time to have female main characters, so that creative process is something that I’m enjoying myself. All in all, this adds a new dimension by having Metallic Rouge being a dual story.


AT: In the promotional videos for Metallic Rouge, we learned that Rouge and Naomi are working together. What kind of dynamics are you aiming for between these two characters?

Izubuchi: Without giving any spoilers, I’m sure that there will be ups and downs and that they’re not just going to be buddy-buddy for the entire series!

I wish that I could share more, but we haven’t even gotten to the part where we know the reason for Rouge’s objectives to fight The Immortal Nine, and maybe that has something to do with her relationship with Naomi. Please look forward to it!

AT: For Taisei Iwasaki, the trailers for Metallic Rouge gave us a tease of the jazzy and soothing music. Could you talk about the creative process behind creating the soundtrack, in particular about the language chosen for the song lyrics? How does the setting of the show affect what language the vocals are in?  

Taisei Iwasaki: “What is the original language that’s used in the world that we’re experiencing through Rouge and Naomi?” and “What is the music like?” [Answering] these questions is the interesting part of creating a new world. I’m constantly asking myself, “What is the music that they would be listening to? What is the music that they would be listening to?” That allows me to center my musical style for this content.

It’s quite unusual these days to start a story from a chronological, historical lineage of events. Original anime series these days are not that expansive, and so I really feel these two characters are unique, original, and somewhat  different in what they’re really trying to achieve. This is a new beginning for them and for us, so we’re really at the genesis of a whole expansive world.

Though, thinking again of “What is the music that they are listening to?” I take words from the story. For example with Sarah Fitzgerald and her audience that you saw in the first episode, how would they be reflected in the music that they listen to,  and how can I pull out elements from the series to create the genesis of music as we know it in Metallic Rouge’s world?”


Sarah Fitzgerald from episode one sounds a portmanteau of jazz legends, such as Sarah Vaughan and Ella Fitzgerald. What was the process like in combining the futuristic settings of Mars with classic jazz history in the music for the world of Metallic Rouge?

Iwasaki: When I was recording for Kekkai Sensen (Blood Blockade Battlefront), I traveled to Africa and recorded music there. I’ve participated in making music with people from very different cultural backgrounds. But one thing is for sure, for everybody regardless of background, a good take is a good take!

We all know when music is good, and that must be because there’s something that’s central to us as humans. That is the core of how we recognize good music and how we appreciate music. In creating music for the world of Metallic Rouge, it’s not about doing something completely different, but really still following the tradition of good music and pursuing music. I feel that is best for us in the context of appreciation.

The story of Metallic Rouge takes place 25 years after a war on Mars, and the music in the world favors the jazz music of the 1940’s, as opposed to futuristic electronic sounds. What does that say about the world of Metallic Rouge, and what was the appeal of using that era to create the Sarah Fitzgerald persona?

Izubuchi: Episode one absolutely has to be a standalone story. I didn’t want to have it be a continuation — I wanted to be a unit that is able to act alone to pull the viewers into the world that we’ve created. In order to make that happen, music is a very strong contributor for pulling all of the content together. 

In episode one, Rouge meets Sarah, they create a good relationship, and everything is going well from the beginning. However, in the end, they have to fight each other, and it’s tragic. That tragedy, conflict, and sadness is something you can hear through her singing and music. The singing adds the elements of music and vibrates into life. The more emotions and tools for us to use, the more we can pull the audience into the world that we created.


Metallic Rouge is set in the future, but it also evokes nostalgia for 80’s anime. Was it intentional to try to evoke this retro feeling for the show in a futuristic setting?

Izubuchi: So there’s nothing special that we were trying to bring in from the 80s, but one thing that you might have felt is that in this a hard-boiled, science fiction world — it has to be relatable and it still has to feel like you can associate with it, so you can interact with it and imagine yourself in it. 

So, if it’s completely foreign, completely advanced, and over technologized, it could feel too different, so I’m very careful to have that balance of relatability in the setting. For example, I could make the setting have cars without tires, but it’s the tires that plant the car as a “car” in the setting. That’s the kind of decision I’m constantly making to make sure that the world is not so out of touch, and that we’re able to connect to it.

Iwasaki: So for the battle scenes, what I think about is “What’s next? What happens? What follows the battle scene?” Musically, I wanted to add the element of anticipation. 

For a character as elegant and beautiful as Rouge, it was a very dynamic sound that we created. The dynamic aspect is because of what’s next, what’s after the battle, and so, that’s something I thought about with the music composition.

So going back to the history, if you’ve noticed an older tune that sounds like the tune in the trailer, it’s actually the same melody that is arranged differently to the song that Sarah sings. That aspect is really my effort to bring the musical history to life, and allowing for this evolution, you feel there is a past to the music and continuity of what you’re hearing through the series. So,we hope that you go back and enjoy some of these details!

AT: If you had to convince somebody that has never seen anime that you’ve worked on before, how would you convince them to watch Metallic Rouge?

Minami: The characters are very lovable, that’s a place to start! The partnership, the duo, and the dynamics between the two is something that’s relatable, regardless of your background. If you can focus on the character aspect and these two main characters, specifically, even if you have no background in anime, we believe we will be able to pull you into the world. As the world expands to the different episodes in the series, we hope that it becomes something that you would also want to expand your horizons and learn more about!

Izubuchi: Not to piggyback off of different series, but if you liked Blade Runner, you’ll love Metallic Rouge. Also, there’s two cute girls! 

As another analogy, if you have a bowl of rice with ikura on top, it’s better to pile it up until the ikura is falling over, so that is the kind of worldview where we’ve got ikura falling over! That is not a true problem!

Metallic Rouge premiered January 11, 2024 on Crunchyroll and is aired for the Winter 2024 season.