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|Index||81 reviews in total|
STEAMBOY is director Katsuhiro Otomo first feature film in ten years,
since the release of the cult-classic AKIRA. Though he did work on a
few projects in between, like MEMORIES and METROPOLIS as well as
supervising SPRIGGAN and the brilliant psychological thriller PERFECT
BLUE, you can easily imagine Otomo-san spending the better part of a
decade honing STEAMBOY to the masterpiece it has become.
I've always felt a great anime should do the following: create real characters, make you think, dazzle you visually, and forward the art of animation by creating new techniques. STEAMBOY does all of that. Simplified, the message of the film is that science is a tool that should benefit mankind, and not be used to fatten the pockets of warmongers. The message is not heavy handed though, as Otomo-san presents several angles and allows the viewer to come to the obvious conclusion on their own. Visually this film is stunning. Even minor touches like water reflections under bridges were added to make the film seem more real. 3D was incorporated throughout the film, which I normally hate, but instead of inserting it and having it look out of place, it is simply used as a reference, and then painstakingly traced to appear more 2D and blend in with the film. I've been waiting for someone to do this properly for years. There is a lot of camera action that you've never seen in an anime before. Rather than quick edits, some scenes are panned, zoomed, or rotated with amazing accuracy, as if they were actually filmed rather than being drawn.
This film is full of wonder, with amazing inventions, interesting characters you quickly care about, and beautiful scenes. It plays like a classic adventure film. There is a scene where Dr. Steam turns to his grandson and says "Go Steamboy!" That choked me right up. I could not have been happier with the way this film turned out. It's a masterpiece that Otomo-san should be extremely proud of, and that every anime fan will enjoy. (9/10)
Steamboy has such a rare quality of production values that it almost
merits a viewing for the aesthetics alone. But there is a story to the
film; and although the hardcore fans of Otomo may have been expecting
something a little deeper, and although the pacing and characterization
is notably flawed, it still stands as an extremely fun yarn with no
shortage of what you'd expect from a classic action/adventure flick.
The film, in many respects, is comparable to works like Sky Captain and
the Indiana Jones films; a classic storytelling style somewhat
augmented for a modern audience.
Numerous characters such as Scarlett and the henchmen are essentially devoid of anything resembling development. Scarlett in particular seems to have had her personal developments skipped or accelerated just to give a comic or emotional foil to Ray and the others, and it sticks out noticeably. She's given the typical "redeeming moment" at the end of the film that has no real grounding or weight considering her screen presence; it comes and goes without making a single ripple in an audience.
Essentially, Steamboy crams too many action set pieces and grand ideas into a story too lightweight to fully support them, and the plot suffers because of it. But it's far from lacking meaning or emotion, so as long as you can detach yourself from expectations you're assured quite a ride.
As a final note, if anyone finds the explicit diatribes concerning science a little distracting, try to keep in mind that they all come from your stereotypical mad scientists types. It becomes somewhat more plausible!
Steamboy is the best Anime movie that has been released in North
America in recent years. The story, animation, and other visual effects
are all amazingly done, even though the characters are not as deep as
those in Otomo's previous work, Akira. These two films have nothing in
common aside from the director, and maybe a similar character animation
style. So people who loved Akira and want to see something similar,
stay away from Steamboy.
When I first saw Steamboy I was quite surprised. I had foolishly believed that since the movie was created by the same guy who did Akira, it would be
violent and somewhat depressing. But what I saw was a fast paced, beautifully animated, adventure that even a young child could enjoy. The film does have a bit of violence in it, but mainly its just explosions and a few steam burns, so fairly young children will be able to see it. The movie does deal with some serious topics like war and the possible destruction of London, but with all the action and crazy inventions kids will easily forget the plot. But even though this movie is suitable for younger audiences, doesn't mean it cannot be enjoyed by older and more seasoned anime fans. I saw the film at the Toronto International Film Festival, and there were plenty of older fans of anime clapping loudly after the credits of the film.
The story is quite simple and centers around the adventures of a young inventor named Rei Steam. At the beginning of the film he is sent a new invention from his grandfather, and soon after he receives it he's being chased by members of the Ohara Foundation, a group that designs weapons and sells them to the highest bidding country. He later finds out that the invention he's carrying is called the steam ball, and that it's able to produce mass amounts of energy and would be able to power highly destructive weapons if put in the wrong hands. So its up to Rei and his highly eccentric grandfather to make sure neither the Ohara Foundation or the British Government get hold of the steam ball. (I purposely left out some key plot elements and some key character, but this was done so none of the surprises will be revealed)
Steamboy is a remarkable movie created by anime master Katsuhiro Ôtomo, filled with a brilliant mix of 3D animation and hand drawn characters. Hopefully, since this movie is more family friendly that normal anime movies, it will help introduce more North Americans to the joy that is Anime.
The latest film from the director of Akira, Katsuhiro Ôtomo, is a pacy
thriller anime set in an alternate 1850s London, in the middle of the
industrial age. Rai Steam is the third in a line of engineer inventors
who dreams of going to the first ever Great Exhibition when his
grandfather unexpectedly returns from the United States with an new
invention, the steamball. About the size of a bowling ball, the
steamball is a source of immense, self-renewing power and the people
who funded the invention want it back at any price. Rai escapes on his
steam-powered unicycle, and the race is on. On the way, he encounters a
steam-powered cyborg, a giant steam-powered "Death Star" and a feisty,
economic rationalist sidekick, the Gone With The Wind-inspired Miss
Scarlett (Manami Konishi).
While the plot is nothing new and very much in the Hollywood thriller style, the inventiveness of the world Steamboy is set in is exhilarating. Imagine steam-powered individual submarines, flying machines and more, all drawn in painstaking detail with thousands of cogs and wheels all impacting on each other. Although some CGI is used, most of the film's made in the traditional anime style around 180 000 individual pictures were used to make Steamboy, and it shows.
Steamboy's a rip-roaring 'steampunk' piece of entertainment, complete with an insane despot who plans to take over the world. Although it's strange to see a film set in London where all the (Anglo) characters are speaking Japanese, it's best not to take Steamboy too seriously. Comic relief is provided by Miss Scarlett and Rai's grandfather, Loyd Steam (Katsuo Nakamura). Loyd Steam also speaks for the natural order, something that's often found in Japanese anime and was inspired by both the animist former national religion, Shinto, and the WWII atomic bombings. Unlike Miyazaki's Princess Mononoke, however, it's barely touched on here. Steamboy succeeds because of the fantastic imagination behind the animation, not for its philosophy. ***½/***** stars.
This is a review of the English subtitled version of the film and not
the English dubbed version A boys own adventure as our young hero
fights to keep a steam ball out of the hands of evil corporate
profiteers. Set in and around London in the late 1880's this is quite
simply one of the most amazing animated films ever made. Odds are you
have never seen anything like it on this scale.
As Otomo Katsuhiro pushed the field of animation with his Akira some twenty years ago, he does it again with Steamboy his long in production masterpiece. This is a film so rich and detailed you simply can not truly believe that anyone would have taken the time to do the animation. This is a film to shame most animators working in the field who keep things simple. Nothing is simple here as we get grand battle scenes in London, chases through the English country side, and huge clockwork machines that are mind boggling in their visual complexity. It has to be seen to believed.
The characters here all arc. No one is as they seem at first or second except perhaps for our hero, Roy, who tries desperately to do the right thing with the scientific marvels his father and grandfather have given him but instead finds no one is wholly good nor evil. There is a complexity to everyone that is uncommon for most animation, both Japanese and American.Its refreshing to see that we are given real people to root for and to hiss. What happens to them may move you to tears, it did me.
The film is constructed in essentially two half's. The first is a rollicking adventure as Roy is thrust int the fight against the aforementioned evil corporation, which, like the characters is not as clearly evil as first seems. It his here that there are several set pieces that are some of the finest things I've ever seen on film, in particular the initial chase by the bad guys to get the steam ball. It starts in Roys home, which is trashed and then continues on steam powered vehicles across the countryside before ending up intersecting with a speeding train. Spielberg could learn a great deal for the next Indiana Jones movie. This first half is near perfect in execution.
The second half of the film is a giant set piece that begins as a small scale fight during the London Exhibition and quickly expands into a full scale war in London. Its is here that the film falters, not because its bad, rather because its not fully clear whats happening. Its as if Otomo set in motion this huge machine and didn't know how to control it. I knew over all what was going on in the big picture but I was lost as to the details. This is a damaging flaw to the film that destroys many people ability to enjoy the film. If you can let yourself go and let the film wash over you then you will be more likely to truly appreciate this film for what it is- grand story telling on a huge scale.
I can't recommend this film enough. Certainly one of the best animated films ever made, I'm sure it will be near the top of my best films of the year.
Lastly Stay through the credits. If its not readily apparent the pictures under the credits take the story well past the ending of the film and show you quite clearly what happens to everyone we've come to know. One can only hope that we will one day be treated with the story those pictures tell.
'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. '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.
Admiring the gadgets, machines and all the insanely gorgeous animation
you won't have enough time to wonder where the plot or character
Steamboy is set in Victorian England, the age of inventions and the industrial revolution. Dr. Steam has developed a ball that contains an enormous amount of pressure, that can be used to power huge amounts of steam machines. However, Dr. Steam's son and grandson both have their own designs...
I've never been a huge anime fan, but I've enjoyed every film I've seen that Otomo has been involved in, and this one is no exception to the rule. Since I enjoyed it as a non-anime fan, I recommend to all others like me who are curious about anime.
I was dragged to this movie by my son, knowing of Anime only Totoro,
the Cartoon Network Anime shows, and passing things from the web.
I was astounded by the superb quality of the graphics, especial the CGI macro shots, throughout the film. I found myself thinking of people seeing early Disney features in the 1930's. The visuals looking through various magnifying lenses were absolutely incredible!
I was surprised to see how the setting in Victorian England had given me such an easier time visually comprehending familiar scenes, vehicles, etc instead of the usual anime Asian or Space-Age themes I had come to expect. In this way, I feel I was finally able to visually appreciate the quality of the artistry for the first time. Wow! The English dubbing was great, and again helped me appreciate the film. And the storyline was a perfect "Perils of Pauline" tied to a gone-bad "Mad Scientist" tale as seen in Frankenstien, the Invisible Man or any of 1,000 such movies.
I don't understand complaints of the ending "dragging on". *spoiler<?>* If not for the extra-twists in the list 30 min, we would all be complaining that the plot was flat and the ending dragged out of a dustbin. As it was, I burst out laughing at the twist and thought it clever, along with the two more twists including the one just before final credits. If you were taking yourself (as Monday Morning Quarterback) a little less seriously, you would see it was poking fun at the notion of a hero's "heroic moment".
Of course it was a comic book style plot, blowing up the famous historic buildings at the Victorian Exhibition using steam power! I easily accepted and enjoyed the diabolical plot twists for what they were. How can one accept the presence of a 20,000 foot tall steam powered flying rocket (built by a mad scientist and stuffed with secret weapons) and not expect escape bays, rocket packs, secret pods, and trap doors? Lighten up! Doesn't one certainly imply the other?
Saw this at the Toronto International Film Festival, and I swooned with
the massive audience in sheer awe at the absolutely astounding
masterpiece that Otomo-san has created. 10 years in the making, the
visual feast pays off with an incredible bang.
Although not as violent and complex as the powerhouse Akira, Steamboy is a straight-forward sci-fi-action-adventure story set in Victorian London, England that even strangers of the anime genre can follow with ease. I can see this film being another landmark hit in North America that will hopefully draw more people to appreciate anime. When this comes out in 2005, don't miss it for the world!
In the year 2004, Katsuhiro Ôtomo, writer and director of the
enormously influential anime, "Akira" (1988), returned to film-making
after almost 10 years since his last directorial effort ("Memorîzu" or
"Memories"), with another epic story of action and science-fiction
named "Suchîmubôi", literally "Steamboy". In this film, Ôtomo dives
into the sci-fi sub-genre commonly known as "Steampunk", stories often
set in the 19th century where highly advanced steam machines are the
fantastic technology of the time creating alternative history and
settings. The Steampunk sub-genre shares many similarities with
cyberpunk fiction, so it's probably not a surprise that the maker of
"Akira", one of the most celebrated works of cyberpunk fiction, would
decide to make a story for this very similar sub-genre. Ôtomo's
background and the similarities between the sub-genres force an
inevitable comparison to "Akira", but while "Steamboy" is far from the
masterpiece that "Akira" was, it's one of the best feature length
animated films of the decade.
Set in Victorian Britain, "Steamboy" is the story of Ray Steam (Anne Suzuki), a young kid from Manchester who spends his free time working at a factory and inventing steam machines following the example of his father Dr. Edward Steam (Masane Tsukayama) and his grandfather Dr. Lloyd Steam (Katsuo Nakamura), both renowned inventors working in America. One day, he receives a box from his grandfather containing a small spheric steam machine, with explicit orders of not giving it to anyone except to famed inventor Robert Stephenson (Kiyoshi Kodama). Soon he receives the visit of agents from O'Hara, the company where his grandfather works, violently demanding the spheric machine. Ray's grandfather appears too, and helps Ray to escape with the sphere, making Ray to realize that the small machine contains a power beyond his imagination.
"Steamboy" is definitely a classic example of Steampunk fiction as it takes a historical setting and gives it a spin by adding the element of fantastic super science. Written by Katsuhiro Ôtomo and Sadayuki Murai, "Steamboy" uses the sub-genre's setting and elements to tell a story about science, its possibilities and specially its consequences if handled in a bad way. Ôtomo uses the characters of the Steam family to describe what he sees as the two possible uses of science, and makes a sharp (although heavy handed) criticism to our modern capitalist society. In this way, it shares some of "Akira"'s themes, but "Steamboy" offers a more optimist tone, as it's essentially a story about the birth of modern science (in an exaggerated fantasy way of course) where mankind is still on time to learn the enormous responsibility of using science. Overall it's a pretty straight forward story of action and adventure, but the use of this themes through the movie makes the story really captivating.
As expected, the animation of the film is flawless, with a great (and often unnoticeable) combination of both traditional 2-D and 3-D animation that bring the incredible Steampunk machines to life. The movie has an exiting look, mix of real Victorian designs and Ôtomo's very own sci-fi style, paying honest tribute to the pulp adventures and Victorian literature that form the basis of the Steampunk sub-genre. Director Katsuhiro Ôtomo's eye for visuals is still there, and the epic finale is one of the best staged scenes in an animated film of the last years. The movie moves at a fast pace, probably too fast for its own good, but the plot still unfolds nicely. It's certainly not a landmark like "Akira", but Katsuhiro Ôtomo has delivered another great animated story.
I've seen the original Japanese track, so sadly I can't comment on the English dubbing. In the original audio, Anne Suzuki makes an outstanding job as Ray, not only because the character is male (and she is female), but because the character is old enough to his voice be "manly". Suzuki makes Ray very convincing, as the young kid discovering the benefits (and dangers) of science. Masane Tsukayama plays Ray's father, giving a certain dignity and power to the character and avoiding most of the clichés this kind of character tend to have. On the same tone is Katsuo Nakamura, who in turn plays Ray's grandfather. Nakamura's eccentric character is effectively portrayed by the experienced actor, and is one of the highlights of the film. Finally, Manami Konishi plays Scarlett O'Hara, the young heir of the O'Hara company, making this spoiled little brat (obviously inspired by "Gone with the wind") annoying enough for the character without going too over the top.
Probably the film's biggest flaw is that simply is not "Akira", what I mean is that given that Katsuhiro Ôtomo's 1988 movie was such a landmark in anime, the expectations for "Steamboy" were probably impossible to live up to. However, this doesn't mean that "Steamboy" is a bad movie, simply that it can be disappointing if one is expecting another "Akira". "Steamboy" is a simple, but remarkable epic adventure with the only ambition of being entertaining. It's upbeat tone may look typical of anime at first sight, but despite this optimism, "Steamboy" offers the same dark subject that "Akira": Man must learn to use the science before it's too late. In this aspect it could be seen as a prequel (set several centuries before) to the world of "Akira", as the science in "Steamboy" seems to be getting advanced at a very fast pace. In the end, the only real flaw of the movie is that despite having a runtime of 2 hours, the film feels rushed, and leaves one wanting for more.
Director Katsuhiro Ôtomo spend almost 10 years conceiving and developing "Steamboy", and the effort certainly payed off. Sci-fi fans will find an excellent adventure in "Steamboy", specially if they are fans of the Steampunk sub-genre. With its excellent animation and captivating story, "Steamboy" is an excellent introduction to Katsuhiro Ôtomo's work. It's not going to change anime again, but Ôtomo's movie is still definitely one of the best. 8/10
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