#Steampunk Month Retro Anime Review: Steamboy

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The first comment my wife made for this movie was during the opening crawl, where she said “why is it that all these take place in Manchester, 1866.” Too true. Then again, she watches primarily BBC historical dramas, which all seem to take place in such a setting. This took a different take.

I watched the dubbed version becuase I couldn’t resist Patrick Stewart, which I found to be good. It was weird hearing an english accent iwth translated dialogue and lips that didn’t move quite right, but I’ll forgive that as a necessity of the movie.

This is the story about a boy who gets a mysterious package of some steam tech that his father/grandfather were developing. People are chasing after it because it can be used as war weapons, and he goes on an adventure to a world’s fair kind of set up that it escalates further into people tyring to steal tech, automotons attacking, and a giant steam castle that moves through the air and causes all sorts of havoc.

I found it interesting how all the charactesr talked about science as relgiion, almost creepily so. They kept saying science shouldn’t fall into the wrong hands, science would be gbest for humanity, this is the age of science! The mantra feels a lot like certain groups today, and it leads to the hubris and ultimate destruction wrought in the film.

The main character boy was cool. I liked everything about him, his initiative, his smarts, his willingness to defend himself. The O’Hara girl got kinda annoying at points, and the father and grandfather were downright stubborn. I’m still not sure what to conclude of it as the story while it follows a very linear path that’s predictable with the machinery, doesn’t really resolve the elements of the familial aspects that are inteesting at the beginning. They all kind of work together later, but the ultimate resolution is unsatisfying.

Overall, the pacing is pretty good, I liked the main character to watch all the way through, art was pretty decent, and I loved the steam tech all over the place–those concepts were awesome, but it was missing something that made it something to connect to in a big way like I had with Akira, one of Otomo’s other films. I know he took a long time to work on this, but the story could have been better honed. It’s worth a watch once, but probably not multiple times.


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