Ray is a young wunderkind inventor living in Victorian England. His life is turned upside down when he receives a special package hailing from the United States, sent by his grandfather, Lloyd Steam. The package contains a device called a Steam Ball, a device so powerful that it can drive any machine that requires steam with a nearly limitless amount of energy.
Ray is instructed to not let the Steam Ball fall into the wrong hands, which include the mighty O'Hara Foundation, who desperately want to bring the Steam Ball back into their control so they can achieve their less than noble goals.
He will need to use every bit of his brilliance in order to dodge the countless goons that are sent to snatch the device from him. It will be a battle between good and evil, a battle for redemption, a battle for the future!
Steamboy is intended to be one of those grand adventure stories set in fantastical world with pure hearted heroes and nefarious villains. It certainly has high production values and some incredible CGI effects and action. But in the end it fails to really deliver those ambitious goals.
The plot of Steamboy is really nothing all that original. If you've seen any adventure stories before then the overall premise is going to feel very familiar to you. The story centers around the boy Ray Steam, who is an inventor from a family of inventors. After he receives a mysterious package from his
grandfather he soon finds himself chased by villains who want it for themselves. The story has lofty goals but by the time the movie ends, I found myself confused about what actually happened and what the purpose of the whole thing was. Also it didn’t feel like any of the villainous characters ever really faced any consequences for their actions and the only people hurt were the innocents they stepped on throughout the story. Maybe I am being to idealistic but I want the bad guys to get their just deserts, and Steamboy didn’t leave me feeling that they had.
There is a lot of very good action in Steamboy however. Fans of action will have a lot to like here. The battles and action scenes are marvelous to watch and the CGI effects are wonderfully embedded within the animation. The movie also does a wonderful job in building a Victorian Age fantasy with amazing steam powered machines of all types. It reminds me a lot of a Jules Verne style story.
Ray Steam is an adequate leading character. He is heroic and idealistic and very much a standard and predictable character type for this kind of story. There just isn’t enough development of his past or personality to make him all that compelling or memorable. Scarlett is even less interesting as we learn almost nothing about her either. I did not find her to be all that likable nor did I care much about what happened to her. She’s spoiled and arrogant and cruel to animals. She seems to make a little progress as the story unfolds but not enough to make me actually like her. Steamboy's villains are not anymore interesting. While they don’t fit the black/white stereotype that one often seen in these characters for this story type their motivations are obscure and not well defined for most of them. The ones that are just don’t give you enough reasons to dislike them and cheer on our hero.
While the animation was really top notch in most cases, I did not care for the character designs. Particularly that of Scarlet as she looked more like a cross dressing boy than a girl. As I mentioned the animation for the various steam machines and action was amazing. The level of detail and fantastic designs were definitely a highlight. The music and acting was all very good though. The background music did a lot to build the grand scale of the movie.
Steamboy is overall though just an average adventure story. I certainly didn’t dislike this movie at all, I've just seen a lot better. Still I don’t think anyone would dislike this so if you enjoy fantasy and adventure stories, Steamboy will be well worth your time.
It's not 'weird' as in something ridiculously abstract or disturbing, but weird in other ways.
The alternate-history setting is a visual feast for the eyes via Production I.G's commitment to detail and quality animation. The dub is actually really good, and this is coming from a guy who hates dubs. But in a story like this where its set completely in 19th century England, it would be too strange to hear Japanese voices, so the heavy Manchester and cockney London accents fit very well with what's going on. Yeah, an anime set entirely in
19th century England, with no Japanese characters, weird already.
And damn if what's going on isn’t bloody amazing. I actually think this is a two act story which is very interesting and unconventional. For any laymen to cinema theory reading this, most common films have three act structures, but Steamboy is basically Setup and then Resolution. Maybe a bit of an act 2 is floating around somewhere in this strange anime, but you'd be hard pressed to find it, as it moves so quickly from a beginning that feels deceivingly generic: a regular boy-receives-package-and-goes-on-run-with-it scenario that doesn’t follow all the clichés of the past thankfully, but instead saves us the trouble of watching the story lull then pick up then lull over and over again. No, Steamboy just keeps going from the first chase scene and doesn’t let up until the destructive climax.
But what a climax. There are images in this anime that are purely breathtaking. Images you've never seen before. Katsuhiro Otomo's eye for apocalyptic action is second-to-none; no one can do it better than him. Seeing it in action in London is a treat. His direction, especially in action sequences, gives you scope to all the mayhem, his pans and tracking shots are perfect.
Its all complemented by humour in the form of a bunch of weapons buyers on a tour of a gigantic weapon of mass destruction, unwittingly being involved in the 'demonstration', to sly observations of Londoners’ reactions to horrific disasters unfolding in front of them, it's never forced but very quirky and funny.
Steamboy can be criticised for its two act structure and may lead people to believe it's all style and no substance, and I wont even try to defend it's attempts at philosophising on the purpose of science and technology, as the two characters that keep spouting their speeches gets old very quickly, but this anime is simply unlike any other out there and for that reason alone it deserves your full attention.
There are so many things going on in Steamboy, from the surface narrative of a boy being dragged into an ideological quarrel between his father and grandfather, to the philosophical implications of steam technology on the 19th and 20th century, and most interestingly of all: that this was actually the origin of a superhero which just made me grin big time.
First, let me say that I wasn't expecting much going into this film. Seeing as how it isn't directed by Miyazaki and I hadn't heard much of anything about it, I didn't plan on being impressed. Well, much to my surprise, I really enjoyed Steamboy. Sure, it wasn't anything miraculous and magical like Spirited Away or Howl's Moving Castle, but it had some of that "wonder" to it.
Some of the decisions the characters made were a little too "that wouldn't happen", but aside from some of those, I really, really enjoyed the story.
Biggest gripe I had with the movie was the animation. I couldn't
see about 20% of the film because it was too dark. Quite a few scenes are nearly pitch black and unless you have some crazy contrast, you'll miss what's going on.
All in all, definitely an enjoyable watch. I'd see it again, but I wouldn't place it as high as a Miyazaki piece.
Let me sum this anime 4 you very easily: It's steampunk based. Those who cannot conceive this genre will most likely be displeased with this anime, those who have no idea what steampunk is will have varying views & opinions, however to those who know & in a way like steampunk then this anime is definitely 4 you.
The only down-side to this anime I see is that it is very generic steampunk but I also see this as its bet asset to those who are interested in understanding this genre.
Some of the best anime drawings ever can be found right in the middle of our favorite anime. We pulled out the most beautiful, detailed, and emotional moments from anime for a huge list of gorgeous anime art.
There's hate, and then there's the white hot, seething hatred anime fans have for CGI anime. Look, none's denying there have been some atrocious missteps in the past when it comes to CG in anime, but it can be done right!