'Steamboy', the groundbreaking new film from the makers of 'Akira' represents the new benchmark in Japanese animation. While the underlying story that science should be used to benefit mankind and not to wage war is somewhat bland, it is the animation that captivates. Using both 3D CGI and traditional 2D cel animation, (which works wonderful and is seamless together) 'Steamboy' far surpasses any previous animation to date. The camera pans and swoops around our hero beautifully as we are taken into a 19th century England that is mixed with science fiction. There are inventors and machines, weapons and explosions - are encaptulated within this alternate world. This is the highlight of 'Steamboy', the world is alive and so detailed. All the machines are full of cogs and moving parts - everything seems so real and alive.
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'Steamboy' has captured the industrial feel perfectly, just as well (if not better) than 'Akira' captured the 80's futuristic feel. If you like Japanese animation you will love and adore 'Steamboy', and if you only see one animation this year make sure you see 'Steamboy'. It's simply amazing.
Synopsis 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!
Overall 7 Story 6 Animation 8 Sound 9 Character 4 Enjoyment 7 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.
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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. Overall 8 Story 9 Animation 8 Sound 8 Character 8 Enjoyment 8 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.
Overall 9 Story 9 Animation 8 Sound 9 Character 8 Enjoyment 10 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.