My fourth attempt at anime (after Spirited Away, Princess Mononoke, & Grave of the Fireflies) is quite disappointing. Initially, “Steamboy” had an intriguing concoction. For an anime, this one neither takes place in Japan nor in the future. The setting is England in the 19th century, a time when steam was an innovative source of energy.
The title refers to Ray Steam (voiced by Anna Paquin), a boy mechanic/inventor. Everyone goes after him when he acquires a spherical device invented by his granddad. This vital piece of equipment, as I understand it, can withhold a high concentration of steam pressure. The film has a great and odd retro look, like a realized futuristic vision of an old past. The movie cranks out big clunky machines that might have the look of the era but have functions improbable at the time. My interest vaporized halfway through the movie when the plot turned ludicrous. The adult characters are narrow-minded and the screenplay felt manipulative and tends to be redundantly didactic. The movie does contain notable ideas, but these take a backseat to action sequences that boil down to a mindless and puffed up disaster. Overall, “Steamboy” has great visuals but also has the presence as lasting as steam.