Rei is a young inventor living in the U.K. in the middle of the nineteenth century. Shortly before the first World Expo, a marvelous invention called the "Steam Ball", behind which a menacing power is hidden, arrives at his door from his grandfather Roid in the U.S. Meanwhile, the nefarious O'Hara Foundation has sent men to acquire the Steam Ball, so that they can use its power towards their own illicit ends.Written by
Bruce Osborne <firstname.lastname@example.org>
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)
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