‘Steamboy’ is a curious little anime gem. Despite its issues, it is a treat for the eye. I watched this steampunk adventure film today, here’s what I thought.
‘Steamboy’ has two central themes. The film preaches the idea that genius can come from unlikely places. Despite the fact that everyone underestimates Ray, he has a natural talent for innovation.
In the intro, we see very serious men struggling with the machinary of the time, Ray however, is completely in control. He has an innate understanding of it.
The second main theme becomes apparent when the conflict of the story kicks off. This is that you should always act with integrity and stand for what you believe in. Ray is forced to choose a side in a battle of ideals.
Does he join his father, apply his talents to the aggressive expansion of a militaristic empire? Or, does he join his grandfather in his campaign to take back energy for the good of the majority?
The conflict takes place in a stunning vision of steampunk England. Manchester is a surprising setting for an anime film but steampunk is all about the blending of locations, time periods and genre.
In line with its subject matter, ‘Steamboy’ is like an intricately designed piece of machinary. In lesser animations, the subjects in the background freeze while the character does something in the foreground. That is not the case here. The character moves through a living environment which has many moving parts. Every frame is stunning.
It is sometimes hard to take it all in due to the speed of the dialogue. The scenery is so beautiful that you want to take it all in but you often miss the subtitles while you gaze at it. With that said, the combination of expressive character design and emotive music makes you invested nonetheless.
The third act of the movie drags on a little too long. It falls into the trap of making the plot too convoluted and being unable to tie up all of the loose ends in the finale. The structuring and pacing were a little off, they lost their way somewhat.
With that said, it was a great source of drama to have the three generations of the family converging on the observatory. I love the symbolism of the grandfather trying to pull his son out of the machine that he has fused himself with.
The steam family have a symbiotic nature with machinary, they put themselves into their inventions. Eddy Steam is a representation of the obsession with scientific advancement, in its extreme.
‘Steamboy’ has its storytelling issues but overall, it is an enjoyable piece of escapism.