Directed by: Katsuhiro Otomo
This is one of, if not my, favorite anime movies ever. I watched it when it was released and instantly fell in love with it. This was even one of the reasons I figured out what anime is, and did research which led me to finding other shows I loved being anime and finding new anime.
The story is about Ray, who’s father and grandfather are scientists who are pioneering steam engineering, and his journey in finding out what happened to his family and having to deal with their broken relationships. It’s set in 1866 during the great England exhibition. This is a steampunk film so there are great creations being made to wage war. That’s as much of the plot I’ll give, because I think the best experience to watch this is not knowing a lot.
This film has so much content jammed into it that I’m still amazed it was only two hours long. If you analyze it you’ll find a lot of themes and a lot of lessons to take away from it. The main theme deals with ideals and philosophy on how good science really is for the world, which mostly focuses on Ray’s father and grandfather’s relationship, and it’s stuff like this that makes me really love this film. You have so many characters and they play off each other so well. Ray plays off Scarlett, his supposed love interest, to the point that he completely changes her character. She starts off as unlikable and snobbish as she beats her dog, but by the end you can really see the difference in her personality as she helps him out.
As for the animation it’s beyond insane. It took ten years to make this film, and it has mostly hand drawn animation, but also CG as well. Every single frame is so detailed, and some of the shots they use in the film are crazy for 2004 and hand drawn animation in general. So many times I was blown away and had to ask myself exactly how did they do that. Just so you can understand just how detailed, even a little bit, this film is I’ll insert a still from it:
It’s not the best picture, but you can see that it’s very detailed, and what’s astonishing is that it’s like that throughout the whole film. Not only that, but you might not even recognize that this is an anime or was produced in Japan, because the characters and styles are westernized. Only the main characters have that familiar round face you see in anime, all the side characters and regular people all have very detailed long faces that scream English. The CG isn’t glaring, this is one of the few times that it actually blends really well with the hand drawn stuff. Overall, Steamboy is a visual spectacle that utilizes techniques that will make you believe that it took ten years to make.
If someone was to ask me what the highlights and reasons to watch this film for, I’d say the animation and the music. Surprisingly, the music is done by Steve Jablonsky, and I think it’s still one of his best scores. He’s mostly done music for Michael Bay films, which I think is just a waste of his talent but I digress.
If you’re still on the fence on watching this film, then I’d suggest going on youtube and listening to the song “The Chase” because it’s one of so many great scores in this wonderful film. Not only is the score great, but it really gives you the feel for the character’s emotions going on inside them, and bringing out what the story themes as music.
God I feel like I’m not doing this any justice. Okay to sum up, this is great, it’s a visual masterpiece, go watch it now, listen to the soundtrack, or even go out and buy it. Check out the trailer, or completely ignore me, just know that this film will make your jaw drop through the floor on it’s awesomeness!