Steamboy is a film directed and co-written by Katsuhiro Otomo. The film was in production for ten years and utilized more than 180,000 drawings and 440 CG cuts. With a production cost of $26,000,000, Steamboy is the most expensive full length Japanese animated movie produced to date.
The animation in Steamboy is very well done, and the viewer can tell that a lot of time was taken to produce the film. As you watch, you can also see how torn Ray is when he's having to decide whether to help his father or his grandfather. A viewer can also tell that an alternate history was utilized. While steam is the main source of power, there are some elements of the technology utilized that either wouldn't have existed yet, or progressed faster than they did in our timeline.
This DVD release of Steamboy contains several special features, and on the special features menu, they are split out into: Featurettes, Animation Onion Skins, Production Drawings, and Previews. Under "Featurettes," there are a total of four items included. The first is an almost nineteen-minute documentary about producing the English dub of Steamboy, which includes interviews with some of the voice actors and some of the crew members involved with the dub. Next is a five-minute interview with director Katsuhiro Otomo. Otomo is speaking in Japanese, but instead of putting subtitles on the bottom of the screen, an American voice-over is dubbed over Otomo's voice. Personally, I found this rather annoying. Next is a "Multi-Screen Landscape Study," which is a nineteen-minute piece that aired on three screens at a Steamboy exhibition. Here, subtitles are utilized to translate the spoken Japanese. "The Adventure Continues" is a textless version of the ending credits, which serve as a kind of epilogue for the film.
The "Animation Onion Skins" runs for about four-and-a-half minutes, and shows the various developmental stages of five scenes (which shows everything from rough animation to final scenes). "Production Drawings" runs for almost six minutes, and it shows paintings that had been done as the sets were developed. The "Previews" menu includes several previews of both anime and non-anime releases from the studio that released Steamboy.
Overall, Steamboy is a great film. It's one I would recommend to anime fans that are thirteen years of age and older.
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About the reviewer
Lesley Muir Aeschliman (ljaesch)
I'm a freelance writer whocovers anime and manga on her blog, Lesley's Musings... on Anime & Manga. I also have a music blog called AeschTunes that I post at every once in a while. … more
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The first feature Katsuhiro Otomo has written and directed since his watershedAkira(1988),Steamboyoffers a fantastic, sepia-toned vision of the past-as-future. In place of the dystopic Neo-Tokyo ofAkira,Steamboyis set in England in 1866. Young Ray Steam receives a Steam Ball, a mysterious, powerful device, from his inventor grandfather. Governments and businesses covet the Steam Ball, and Ray finds himself in a murderous conflict over its possession. He's also caught between his father, a 19th century Darth Vader who builds terrible weapons for an American arms merchant, and his grandfather, who believes science should improve people's lives. Otomo uses computer graphics to create dazzling visuals that few recent films--animated or live action--can match: monumental systems of gears and pistons; machines that dwarf the Tower of London; antique weapons of mass destruction. But the dazzling imagery can't disguise the lack of a coherent plot and the flimsiness of the characters.