Unjustly ignored in the UK where Miyazaki is currently all the rage, this is a charming story that is set in Victorian England. For those of us from the North, who live amongst the remnants of the industrial towns, it makes for a unique story. A hero from Manchester! There is a subtext involving science as danger and science as progress, and the relationships between father and son, but it is difficult to follow and never really works. Perhaps something was lost in translation. Most importantly the art design and attention to detail is stupendous, and really evokes nineteenth century England. There's some great retro mecha designs too. Patrick Stewart also gets a chance to use a Northern accent for once, even if he's from Yorkshire! Not at all disappointing.
Anyone who has seen Akira or Memories would have doubts about Otomo's ability to create a children's movie. Yes, Steamboy is made for a much younger audience than Akira, but at the same time it uses many of the concepts and visuals from it. When you mix child-friendly entertainment with huge orbs crushing cities, it gets weird.If you can see past this, however, you're in for a treat. Steamboy is the most expensive anime ever made and it shows. The attention to detail, the insane amount of eye-boggling steampunk contraptions, the quality of movement and the smooth combination with CGI makes it very pleasing to watch. The Victorian era gives Otomo lots of space to delve in his mechanical obsession, reminiscent of "Cannon Fodder".The dub is alright, nothing special(the Japanese one, that is). I suppose in this case watching the English dub would have been more appropriate! Characters are of varying depth, but there isn't a lot of development. Some are there pure…
What a pity! There seems to be a lot of dedicated work and money in Steamboy but I felt that it basically doesn't' have a "soul". You don't really feel with the characters as you usually do in most anime, especially the famous Studio Ghibli ones.If you liked Ghibli's "Spirited Away" ("Sen to Chihiro…") or "Whisper of the heart" you might be disappointed by Steamboy. However, if you like action movies you will probably like it. There are loads of fast moving scenes with – I assume – rendered backgrounds and hand-drawn characters. For me, it was just too much speed. I would have liked some more time to enjoy the beautiful pictures.
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