Director: Katsuhiro Otomo
Music: Steve Jablonsky
Animation director: Shinji Takagi
Released by: VIZ
Release Date: March 18th 2005 (USA)
Ray Steam is a gifted young inventor that loves to invent things and get in trouble–which he does quite frequently. One day a package arrives from his grandfather, Lloyd Steam. Within the package is a mysterious ball and with it a letter that says not to give the ball to the men from the O’Hara Foundation. Coincidentality at the same time there is a knock on Ray’s house in Manchester England; who is it but the people from the O’Hara foundation, who come claiming that Lloyd sent them to pick up to the ball. Well Ray’s a smart kid and it doesn’t take him long to realize that things aren’t as they seem and that his grandfather’s letter was a warning. Before you know Ray’s house becomes a battle zone with the people from the foundation tearing down the house trying to find the ball. Ray narrowly escapes the men from the foundation and gets on his invention to get away with the ball. Unfortunetly the people from the foundation don’t plan on making Ray’s escape that easy. Our young inventor now finds himself being chased by what seems to be a train on wheels. Ray must be saying to himself “what have I gotten myself into now.”
While being chased by the 19th century Choo Choo Tank he bumps into Robert Stephenson. Who is Ray’s father friend and rival when it comes to steam technology. Stephenson helps Ray escape the clutches of the foundation. Ray seems to admire Stephenson as much as he does his father. Stephenson takes Ray to his workshop in London, which at this time is preparing to host the World Fair. Even though Stepheson is world renowned for his contributions to the field of science he is amazed by the Steamball and the infinite power it seems to possess. Slowly Stephenson is becoming more like the men from the foundation that want to steal the ball than Ray’s friend.
While in London (I just love the accents in this game) Ray gets a big surprise. His father, who Lloyd said had died, shows up. Ray is delighted, he though his father died. However Ray’s father is not the same. The accident in Alaska has seriously injured him and now he’s using primitive robotic parts to function. No matter Ray’s just glad to see his father again. Edward, Ray’s father, offers Ray an amazing proposition: to come work with his father for the same foundation that wanted to steal the Steamball. Amazing Ray agrees and leaves with the steamball to go work with his father on a secret project, that as his father says will change the world.
A few days later before the World’s Fair is set to begin, Lloyd makes it to London, and sneaks into the Foundation base. Lloyd is determined to stop his son from unleashing the mysterious power that is kept inside the Foundation base. When Ray bumps into Lloyd they argue about what’s going on. Lloyd warns Ray that his father has changed, that he’s not the same person as before. Realizing that his grandfather is right Ray decides to help him out and makes off with the steamball. Edward at this point decides that it’s finally come time to unleash the power of the steamballs (he has in his possession two already). Lloyd points out that without the third and final steamball that his plan won’t work. However Edward can’t go back now and starts the process anyway.
Ray runs back to Stephenson, the person he thinks he can trust, unfortunetly Stephenson wants to harness the steamball’s power for his own. Stephenson is now preparing a full on attack on the Foundation’s base and with the help of the British military and naval forces. The Foundation is ready to fight too and prepares their steam-power weapons for a fight.
As you can imagine a battle starts out quickly in downtown London–not to fear the queen has been safely evacuated. Ray finds himself in the middle of it all with the steamball. Both sides have their own intention for taking it and it doesn’t seem that he can trust either. Before long Ray’s father unleashes the power that has been kept inside the Foundations base and all of London is in for a surprise. But things don’t to go smoothly for long, because without the third steamball things begin to go wrong quickly. Ray now has to get back into the Foundation’s base and save not only his father and grandfather, but all of London from utter destruction.
I liked the Alternative History aspect of this film. I loved the fact that it was taken place in London at the time–I have a thing for guys in Brittish accents. The story was somewhat unique and different. Ray was just a boy that wanted to invent stuff but all of a sudden turns into the savior of London. I know the “Zero to Hero” theme as been done over about a hundred times but in Steamboy it’s okay. One thing that I liked, and only realized until after the film, was that there was no good vs. evil in this film. Both sides had their pros and cons and Ray was just stuck in the middle. His father had good intention but went about the wrong way; Stephenson and the military had good intentions too, but were greedy. While the ending of the series was epic in nature, the film didn’t take on that “epic” feel that’s been over done for so long.
I loved the characters in this film. I will admit they were somewhat stereotypical: Ray, the young inventor who just wants to be; his father Edward, the mad scientist; Scarlet, the spoiled rich girl, etc. The only downfall might be that they were too stereotypical and fit too perfectly into their roles. In that sense the characters aren’t anything new or different from what we are used to.
For a film that cost range in the millions you can’t expect the animation to be horrible. Everything looks gorgeous. The scenery is beautiful. The detail is marvelous. You can clearly see the Akirian influence on this since Ray looks exactly like Shotaro and Tetsuo in Akira; however, both films being creations of Katsuhiro Otomo it was to be expected.
The music is as you would expect it to be. Relaxing at some points, epic at others; but that’s just to fit the feel of the film.
It’s hard for me to not just give this anime an “A+” since it’s from Katsuhiro and it gets a certain amount of “boost” from being just that, but I have to control myself. This really was a good film and worthy of the attention it got or did not get–I checked the box office tickets nationwide it didn’t do so well. The story was really well written and enjoyable. There were some funny parts and some serious. Like I said the before the film was an epic story but it wasn’t over done. There were some points I wished the film could have kicked it up a notch, but overall I think it was well done. I would highly recommend this film to anyone who is looking for good quality movie. Keep in mind the action scenes aren’t very “wow” and the film is more story development than action. So I’m going to give this an “A” not because it’s from an amazing director but because in the words of Alma Mahlar, “…beauty is when all parts of the body perform their function properly”, and everything in this film did just that.