Our selected theme was Technology and Protest, and our film was Steamboy. A Japanese animation film directed and co-written by Katsuhiro Otomo (writer of Akira 1988) After more than 10 years of production, Steamboy was finally released in 2004 Steamboy, budgeted at 22 million dollars, is the most expensive Japanese anime Falls under the Science fiction genre known as Steampunk
Shivani Nadarajah: Powerpoint, Themes, Storyline Robert Shepherd: Characterization, Cultural Aspects, Technical Aspects Joseph Souza: Intro to Film, Technical Aspects, Overview, Storyline
Set in the Victorian Era, around 1863, Ray Steam is the prodègè of inventors from Manchester. Split between the opinions of his father (Edward) and grand-dad (Lloyd), Ray strives to protect a newly engineered power source, the steamball. The O‟Hara foundation, employer of Edward and Lloyd, kidnaps Ray and steals the steamball, using it to power their Steam Castle, which would be displayed at the World Expo in England, for the world to see. Although Edward and Lloyd had a dream to better humanity through science, Edward was money driven, and displayed his inventions for an income.
James is the young protégé of his grandfather and father. From Manchester, he displays the inherited desire to invent. He demonstrates a huge distaste for the employment of technology for harmful reasons. He is told to hold tight the steam ball that everyone else so badly wants custody. With the use of his steam powered monowheel and steam powered flying device, the viewer is led on a journey that questions James resolve.
Based off the classic novel Gone with the Wind, Scarlett is a 14 year old girl that falls nothing short of selfish, spoiled, and demanding. She is the granddaughter of the chairman of the OHara Foundation. Scarlett demonstrates heartless behavior but finds herself persuaded in other directions through her interactions with Ray.
Lloyd is the Grandfather of James Ray Steam and the father of Edward Steam. His use of technology falls on the side of bettering humanity. He illustrates a somewhat careless approach to safety with the use of technology and consequently disfigures his own son. Lloyd is the original inventor of the steam ball. His plans for the steam ball are to create a flying amusement park. These ideas are quickly shot down by his son who plans on creating a flying military fortress instead.
"Eddy", as Lloyd refers to Edward, is a jaded individual. He fell victim to an accident that his own father was responsible for. This left him with mechanical parts that include his right arm and parts of his legs. Through his disfigurement, Edward demonstrates a use of technology that is somewhat misguided. Because of his accident, Edward feels that science should encapture mankinds ultimate power. Eddy embodies the exact opposite ideals as his father. A great example of this is when Edward uses the convention in London as his platform in introducing the steam castle.
Robert is both enemy and ally to the father and son duo of Lloyd and Edward. He plays a key role in the desire for the use of the steam ball. He claims he wants to use the steam ball for the betterment of the British empire. This however is somewhat vague and unclear.
Simon is the representative for the chairman of the OHara Foundation. He is guided through his desire for money, and at whatever cost. He interacts often with Scarlett which proves to be quite demanding for his overweight and feeble presence.
Ray Steam, the young inventor of the family, receives the steamball from his grandfather. Lloyd leaves a note with the steamball, ordering Ray to protect it and take it to Robert Stephenson so it won‟t be used on the Steam Castle at the World Expo. Representatives of the O‟Hara Foundation arrive to Ray‟s home to steal back the steamball in order to add the finishing touches to the Steam Castle.
Lloyd Steam arrives, and fights off the Foundation until Ray flees the scene. Ray hops on his invention, the monocycle, and escapes with the steamball secured. Arriving next to a train headed to London, Ray ditches his ride and enters the train, where he finds Mr. Stephenson. The Foundation finds Ray on the train, and captures him. They take the steamball and Ray to the Steam Castle.
Ray is brought to London by his captors he finds himself in a floating castle made of steel, powered by pressurized steam, called the “Steam Castle”. He meets Scarlett O‟Hara, and is reunited with his father, Eddy Steam, who seems very different than he once was. Ray proceeds to work in the Steam Castle under his father‟s approval until he runs into his grandfather, Lloyd Steam, who reveals Eddy‟s evil plot to use the power of the steamball to create war machines for personal profit. Ray struggles to believe this, given the allegiance he has to his father.
Ray comes to see the error and madness in his father‟s ways and he begins to help his grandfather, who aims to steal back the power of the steamball and destroy the Steam Castle from the inside. Ray escapes with a steamball and flees to Robert Stephenson, who turns around and tries to use the power for his own profit, to Ray‟s great dismay. London becomes a battle scene as Stephenson‟s troops launch their attack on the Steam Castle. Eddy retaliates by launching the Steam Castle into the air. The steam castle strays off course and threatens to destroy the entire city and everyone in it.
Ray and Lloyd, who are still in the Steam Castle, attempt to redirect the massive machine over the Thames river to stop the destruction. Eddy, who has been shot, seems to come to his senses and decides to help them. They finally get the Steam Castle over the Thames and escape before it detonates, sparing the city of London. Ray saves Scarlett O‟Hara and escapes on a jet pack powered by a steamball, lending him the image of a “super-hero”.
HTTP://WWW.YOUTUBE.COM/WATCH?V=LQD7PVHRI64 This is the part at the start of the film when Ray acquires the steam ball and has to escape his pursuers that are after the power of the steam ball.
Steamboy was directed and co-written by Katsuhiro Otomo, and is his second major animation film following Akira, 1988 The film took over 10 years to produce, utilizing more than 180,000 drawings and over 440 CG cuts. Released in 2004, Steamboy is still the most expensive Japanese animation made.
The United States release, held in a limited number of U.S. theaters on March 18, 2005, and expanded to additional theaters on March 25, was released in two formats: a subtitled release featured in fewer cinemas, and an English dubbed version cut down by 15 minutes. Steamboy was distributed across Japan by Toho and English regions by Sonys Triumph Films subsidiary. The DVD was released in Japan on April 15, 2005, in Australia on June 22, 2005, the USA on July 26, 2005, and the UK on March 27, 2006. Both the edited English version and the original Japanese version were made available on DVD, with the longer version being sold as the Directors Cut.
Steamboy was the 2004 recipient of Best Animated Feature Film at the Catalonian International Film Festival. The film received mixed reviews from critics. Stephen Hunter of The Washington Post states, "The movie never transcended its elaborate production work to achieve an independent reality. It‟s simply pictures of what could have happened." Steamboy has an aggregated rating of 59% on the movie reviews aggregator Rotten Tomatoes based on 88 reviews with the consensus "The story isnt the greatest, but theres an abundance of sci-fi eye candy to compensate."
James Ray Steam (ジェームス・レイ・スチム Jēmusu Rei Suchimu?) Voiced by: Anne Suzuki (Japanese), Anna Paquin (English) Scarlett OHara St. Jones (スカーレット・オハ ラ・セントジョーンズ Sukāretto Ohara Sentojōnzu?) Voiced by: Manami Konishi (Japanese), Kari Wahlgren (English) Lloyd Steam (ロイド・スチム Roido Suchimu?) Voiced by: Katsuo Nakamura (Japanese), Patrick Stewart (English) Edward Steam (Eddy) (エドワード・スチム （エディ） Edowādo Suchimu (Edi)?) Voiced by: Masane Tsukayama (Japanese), Alfred Molina (English) Robert Stephenson (ロバート・スチーブンス ン Robāto Suchībunsun?) Voiced by: Kiyoshi Kodama (Japanese), Oliver Cotton (English) Archibald Simon (アーチボルド・サイモン Āchiborudo Saimon?) Voiced by: Satoru Sato (Japanese), Rick Zieff (English)
From the start of the film, everything seems very dark and „punk,‟ and things continue to be destroyed; everything except the steamball. The focus shifts to the steamball, emphasizing its importance. As the Steam Castle goes airborne, all else is covered with smoke, and appears lifeless, juxtaposing the energy-full Steam Castle, which is complimented by music.
The use of a child (Ray) as the protagonist was purposely chosen to juxtapose the destruction and war throughout the film. The tranquil and joyful Ray, and the sassy and innocence of Scarlett create a naive feel to Steamboy. The amusement park rides on the Steam Castle is a juxtaposition in itself. With all the weaponry that was built into the castle, a childish touch was added by Dr. Lloyd.
The chaos and destruction caused by the fighting over the power of the steamball sends a clear message regarding the tragedies of war. The wreckage caused by the warring factions of those in power are very reminiscent of the destruction of WWII, which may have helped to inspire the film. Entire cities are destroyed and innocent civilians are killed as dangerous inventions are used freely at the whim of a few individuals.
The idea of scientific responsibility comes up numerous times in the film is perhaps the most important theme in the film. All the characters seem to be in a constant struggle with their inner demons as they are faced with what to do with an invention as powerful as the steamball. Should powerful inventions be used for the good of society or for the own desires of whomever holds it? This moral dilemma is one that all of the characters grapple with. Lloyd Steam wants to use the steamball to power a sort of “floating carnival”, meant for the purpose of bringing joy to everyone. Edward Steam, on the other hand, decides to use it to create a war machine that he uses for his own selfish profit, and the results are terrifying.
Abuse of power is a theme that comes up numerous times throughout the film. The majority of the characters, excepting Ray and Lloyd Steam, become corrupt when they attain the steamball. They aim to use the immense power for their own selfish purposes, without any regard to what is good for society as a whole. An example of this is exhibited in the film when Ray brings the steamball to Robert Stephenson‟s group of men, believing that it was a “safe haven”, only to see them turn around and try to harness the power for their own war machines.
Without doubt, Steamboy is hugely affiliated with the steampunk world. Steampunk refers to technology that is completely functional on just the use of steam. This was evident during the Victorian era (1837-1901 CE). During the Victorian era, society functioned on a very basic level. Life was without the use of electricity. James Ray Steams inventions of the monowheel and the flying device he uses are both examples of inventions not only powered with just steam, but also were ahead of their time. Steampunk culture is one that still has many followers. The idea of following a lifestyle that is very self sufficient plays hugely on the minds of its followers.
primary source of power. The „punk,‟ in steampunk refers to the dark colors and theme, creating a punk-like feel. Most scenes of Steamboy used dark colored objects
While the setting for Steamboy lies within the England borders, the film itself is Japanese. Directed and co-written by Katsuhiro Otomo, Steamboy plays on the ideals that Japanese culture elicits. Japan is a nation very focused on the use of its energy, and the development of its technology. More than that, Steamboy builds on the idea of how power and technologies are used and for what purpose. There is seemingly a connection between the use or misuse of technology with WWII and the nuclear bombing of Japans homeland. It is comparative to cultures that focus on being good to nature. With power and technology comes responsibility.
Biodrowski, Steve. "Cinefantastique Online." Steamboy (2004) Retrospective Anime Film Review Comments. Cinefantastique Online, 13 May 2009. Web. 01 Mar. 2013. <http://cinefantastiqueonline.com/2009/05/steamboy- 2004-retrospective-anime-film-review/>. Deming, Mark. "Steamboy (2004)." Steamboy. Flixster, n.d. Web. 01 Mar. 2013. <http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/steamboy/>. Osborne, Bruce. "Steamboy." IMDb. IMDb.com, n.d. Web. 01 Mar. 2013. <http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0348121/plotsummary?ref _=tt_stry_pl>. "Steamboy." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 03 Jan. 2013. Web. 02 Mar. 2013.
1) How does the technology in Steamboy create protest, and how can this relate to what we experience in the real world? 2) Aside from the given theme of technology and protest, how else might Steamboy thematically educate its audience? 3) What historical events might have inspired Otomo‟s film, Steamboy? Where can you draw correlations between the film and the events in WWII? 4) With the advancement of technological inventions comes the need for scientific responsibility. Elaborate on this idea. 5) Does it seem reasonable for someone to abuse the powers of knowledge for personal desire, as shown in Steamboy? 6) Are advancements in technology more beneficial or detrimental to society as a whole? Why or why not?