Is Steamboy Steampunk? Let’s have a look at some of the key elements of the movie in order to decide whether it meets the criteria in order to be classified as steampunk or not. If not, does it fit into one of the other punk aesthetics? Let’s find out.
Before we get into whether Steamboy is steampunk or not, let’s look at what the film is about to get a flavor as to whether it is steampunk or not.
Movie Title: Steamboy
Studio: Bandai Visual Company, Steamboy Committee, Studio 4°C
Director: Katsuhiro Ôtomo
Story By: Sadayuki Murai, Katsuhiro Ôtomo
Release Date: March 18, 2005 (United States)
Main Actors: Anna Paquin, Patrick Stewart, Alfred Molina
Synopsis: The movie is set in 1860s Britain. During an experiment, steam-engine inventor, Lloyd Steam and his son Edward discover a pure mineral water source. An experiment goes wrong and a ball-like machine (Steam-Ball) appears. A foundation becomes aware of the Steam Ball and seeks to acquire it for their own nefarious ends. Lloyd sends his grandson, Ray, they Steam Ball to protect at all costs. Ray is a young aspiring inventor living in the UK.
What Makes a Movie Steampunk?
Before we answer the question, is Steamboy steampunk? Let’s have a look at some of the key characteristics of a steampunk movie.
There are a number of elements that need to combine in order to classify a movie as steampunk.
Check out our in depth guide as to what makes a movie steampunk for more information on this. Whether something fits into the steampunk genre or not is a topic that is always up for hot debate in the forums.
As steampunk sadly never existed, there is no history to check the validity against, however, there is some faux pas that means that something is clearly not steampunk.
Things such as this we would class as being ‘steampunk inspired’, i.e. they don’t traditionally conform to the steampunk genre, but they have taken elements from it to inspire them.
As a quick recap, we’ve lined up our top 10 elements to look out for in a steampunk movie.
If you’re interested in learning more about steampunk, check out our article, ‘What is Steampunk?’, which will take you through the history, influences, fashions, gadgets, and much more.
Top 10 Things to Look Out for In a Steampunk Movie
- The Use of Steam – In steampunk, electricity has never been invented, everything is mechanical and powered by steam. This means that if you can see digital machinery in a movie, it isn’t traditional steampunk, therefore it may be classified as ‘steampunk inspires’
- Steam Powered Vehicles – In steampunk movies, as with the above, you will only see vehicles powered by steam, cars, ships, and even submarines.
- Airships – Airships are popular within the steampunk genre – again, mechanically powered.
- Set In Victorian Era or an Alternative History – Steampunk is set in either the Victorian Era (19th Century), or in an alternative, future, occasionally depicted as a ‘wild west’ setting.
- The Clothing – Clothing can vary, but is normally focused around the fashions of Victorian England, or that of a colonial explorer.
- Augmented Mechanical Humans – In steampunk, persons can normally be seen with mechanically replaced elements to their body, sometimes these are full replacements, other times, a mechanical exoskeleton.
- Gadgets & Gears – futuristic (mechanical) gadgets are common place in the steampunk genre. A personal favorite is a gun that mechanically springs from up a sleeve to the user’s hand, ready and poised for use. Gears can be seen throughout the steampunk genre, emphasizing the mechanical theme that is central to the aesthetic.
- Time Travel – Time travel is no an essential component of steampunk, however, it can be seen in some steampunk works. Just remember that the time travel device needs to be mechanical and not digital/ electronic.
- The Paranormal – The paranormal is not traditional steampunk, however, the crossover between the genres is common. The villain in steampunk is normally a man made creation as opposed to being a mythical creature, demon, vampire, etc.
- Advanced Technology – Technology that is advanced for its time is a standard theme throughout steampunk. The technology must be mechanical in nature, such as the analog computer.
If you’re interested in steampunk movies, why not check out our guide to the best steampunk movies, and see if you can find a new favorite?
So, let’s take a look, is Steamboy steampunk?
What Elements of Steamboy Are Steampunk?
There are some issues with the continuity in this movie, for example, it is set in 1866 and references the Great Exhibition, but this has already taken place in 1851. Also, you will see London’s tower bridge obliterated, but it was not actually built until 1894. Things like this do not need to detract from the fact that the movie is set firmly in the Victorian era, the timeline continuity issues could be attributed to the fact that it is an ‘alternative’ Victorian reality.
Steam and invention, and where they fit within society are definitely key themes running throughout the core of this movie, both of which are in keeping with the steampunk genre.
The vehicles seen in the movie, even Ray’s flying devices, are all powered by steam and have a very rustic, retro feel to them.
The weapons used, a revolver by Lloyd Steam, the flare pistol by Jason, the Borchardt C-93 used by Svenson, and even the fictional lever-action launchers used by the ‘Steam Soldiers’ of the O’Hara Foundation are all in keeping with the time and the genre.
What Elements of Steamboy Are NOT Steampunk?
There are no elements of this movie that are not in keeping with the steampunk genre. It is very different from the director, Katsuhiro Otomo’s previous hit anime, Akira, released in 1988. Akira firmly sat within the cyberpunk genre.
So, Overall Is Steamboy Steampunk?
Yes, Steamboy is a brilliant example of the steampunk genre being depicted in the movies. Even though it is anime, it is definitely one for the adults too.
What are your thoughts? Is the movie Steamboy steampunk? Let us know in the comments below what your opinion is and why.