Technology and Protest: Steamboy Original Source and Story Line & Characterization by McKendree and Sara Strommer Steampunk Theory and Technical Aspects by McKendree Strommer Cultural & Historical Aspects and Themes by Sara Strommer
Film Clip: Launching the Steam Castle Click picture for video
Steamboy Origin Original story by Katushiro Otomo Influenced heavily by steampunk ―era‖ and ideologies Also somewhat influenced by the terror attacks on September 11, 2001, and by the Iraq war.
Characters Ray Steam The protagonist and central figure in the story. Ray is just a boy, still in school. He is raised mostly by his mother and works at factories repairing machinery to help support their family. His father and grandfather were both grand inventors. Ray is innocent, smart, brave and capable. Ray is not a warrior or great man, but a boy still malleable and is forced to make some very difficult decisions.
Characters Eddie Steam Eddie is shown at the very beginning of the film to be involved in a terrible steam accident, the cause of which was his father, Lloyd, pushing the technology too far. He is presumed dead by Ray and his family, but makes a return with the powerful O’Hara foundation, a weapons dealer. Eddie is fervently pushing science to the limit, doing all that can be done to progress regardless of the cost. He reshaped his body, has killed innocent civilians, and deals weapons to the highest bidder all in the name of the cause of science. But at the end, he saves Lloyd and Ray and Scarlett, disappearing once more.
Characters Lloyd Steam Eddie’s father, Ray’s grandfather, and a renowned steam scientist. At the beginning of the film he is shown to be pushing technology to its limits, but soon becomes humanities agent against the relentless pursuit of technology at all costs; and so against Eddie. Lloyd and Eddie become enemies and both try to influence Ray. In the end, Lloyd’s famous line ―…the heart comes first,‖ rings true to Ray.
Characters Scarlett O’Hara Scarlett is a rude, upperclass, spoiled, girl and heiress of the O’Hara Foundation. Scarlett goes where she likes, does what she likes, and no one seems to have the courage or desire to say no to her, except Ray, of course. Scarlett is innocent in the dealings of the O’Hara Foundation (weapons) because she does not fully realize the pain they cause. She walks onto a battlefield, strolling, unafraid because she does not know the fear. When told that the O’Hara Foundation was waging war with Britain she said, ―Make sure we win.‖ That coming from just a girl. Not until she comes face to face with the death and havoc cause by war does she understand the consequences of her foundation’s power. When that happens, though, she makes the choice to stand for the good of people and end the war.
Storyline Follows the story of Ray Steam who’s father and grandfather, Eddie and Lloyd Steam, have been researching and building upon steam technology. Ray’s progenitors discover the power of the ―steam ball‖, a source of incomprehensible, even perfect, power. The existence of such a device is desired by many parties and even forces Lloyd and Eddie apart in their ideologies of how such power should be used.
Storyline Inevitably, Ray, a scientist and genius in his own right, is caught up in the plots of his father, who seeks technological advancement above else, his grandfather who seeks to only use science to help people, and the corporations and countries who also desire the power. Throughout the film Ray is abducted, manipulated, and influenced by many different people and parties. He even meets a girl, Scarlett, the daughter of the powerful O’Hara Foundation (one of Ray’s abductors).
Storyline Ray, through his adventures and the violence and power witnessed within, makes a moral decision to destroy the steam ball and the castle it built, saving a city and denying the scientific progresses made with the technology.
Storyline The ending montage shows Ray and Scarlett flying and presumably fighting in World War I with Eddie as a mind behind or involved in it.
Technical Aspects One other important addition is steampunks general attention to detail. The animation is amazing in Steamboy and in no small part thanks to the extreme detail put into the work. Steampunk carries that same idea into many of the art pieces shown at galleries. It shows a connection between not just the ideas and plot of the film but down to its actual construction it is emulating the steampunk ideology.
Technical Aspects Steamboy utilized over 180,000 hand-drawn animation cells enhanced with 3D imaging over what the DVD calls an ―onion skins‖ type of animation. It is just what it sounds like: layers of animation over each other, some 3D some 2D, but all working together to produce the immensely detailed project that is Steamboy. From RottenTomatoes.com to IMDB, the praise for the incredible attention to detail and the painstaking effort it must have taken to accomplish that in animation is foremost among the critics. The film was in production for 10 years!
Steampunk Theory Steampunk is a nostalgic blending of a "future- perfect" with victorian-era technological transparency. It is a part of popular culture today and involves doing the currently impossible with theories or pieces of technology from an earlier age, making the world improved, or at least one interpretation of improved. For example, one piece of steampunk art is a "clockwork fetus" in which there is a metal fetus in a capsule attached just above a clock counting down to birth. The idea that you plan for a future by looking to the past is ever-present in steampunk ideals and represented well in the piece.
Steampunk Theory Also shown well in the piece is the steampunk ideal that we can and should rebuild ourselves in order to plan for the future because "this will not go on forever". "This" could refer to the human body, the worlds constant consumerism, or any number of things that can be improved upon.
Steampunk in Steamboy Eddie’s body improvements The ―Steam Castle‖ The setting Plot and dialogue
Steampunk in Steamboy Steampunk believes in complete comprehension of morality, humanity, and technology Lloyd is Humanity’s agent Eddie is Technology’s agent Ray gains complete comprehension by learning of both and making the moral decision for himself.
More Steampunk Steampunk ideology holds that "failure to accept things as things even if they increasingly become a part of us fosters and perpetuates cycles of domination and oppression― – Forlini article When morality and technology become too intertwined and "human control is undermined by the enmeshment of humans and things― (Forlini) those cycles begin time and again. Conflict between Lloyd and Eddie, Ray and Eddie, Ray and Lloyd, or even the creation of the steam soldiers and Scarlett’s reaction to it when she found out they were really people; all show the enmeshment of humans and things and consequences to that enmeshment. Eddie lost his mind, became an evil genius, whatever, but either way he saw science- things -as more than just things but as a way of life, an answer to all questions, a future. Ray and Scarlett and Lloyd retained their humanity and are perceived as the good guys.
Cultural & Historical Aspects: War The first Great Exhibition that was held in London was a secret way to sell weapons to Britain’s enemies
Cultural & Historical Aspects: Industrialization The industrialization of the west. Ray works in a factory, fixing steam machines and conveyor belts The steam castle represents both luxuries and dangers afforded by technology
Cultural and Historical Aspects: Perspective Perspectives between father and son Country and citizens War and peace Science and the soul All perspectives are portrayed as having difficulty bridging together and finding common ground
Cultural & Historical Aspects: Cross-Culturization Steamboy’s setting is London and has all English characters driving the plot Most anime centralize around a Japanese character –Steamboy does not have one Steamboy was advertised globally, perhaps because of Akira’s success, and was appealing to both Eastern and Western
Katsuhiro Otomo Interview: Themes Click picture for video
Major Themes: Humanity versus Technology The creator, Katsuhiro Otomo, wanted to capture human emotion through his story. Lloyd Steam emphasized humanity as being the more important than technology
Major Themes: Fathers versus Sons Lloyd and Eddie Steam have differing views as to the importance of science in society— an effect of the ―communication gap that creates misunderstanding.‖ Ray Steam is torn between the two ideologies, and must make a decision in the end.
Major Themes:Innocence versus Greed/Power Ray and Scarlett both represent innocence in different ways—Ray trusts the adults in his life, and doesn’t understand their need for power. Scarlett is bossy and rude, but in a childlike way. All of the adult main characters are trying to get their hands on the steamball and use it for their own purposes, even if that means starting a world war.
Works Cited ―Otomo’s Steamboy.” Big Red Hair. n.p., n.d. Web. 26 Feb 2013. Price, Shinobu. ―Cartoons from Another Planet: Japanese Animation as Cross-Cultural Communication.‖ Journal of American & Comparative Cultures 24:1-2 (2001): 153-169. Web. 31 Jan 2013. Lu, Amy Shirong. ―The Many Faces of Internationalization in Japanese Anime.‖ Animation (2008): 169. Web. 31 Jan 2013. Forlini, Stefania. ―Technology and Morality: The Stuff of Steampunk.‖ Neo-Victorian Studies 3:1 (2010): 72-98. Web. 26 Jan 2013. ―Steamboy (2005).‖ Box Office Mojo, IMDb.com, Inc. n.d. Web. 27 Feb 2013. ―Katsuhiro Otomo’s STEAMBOY – US PREMIERE – with Q&A by director Otomo.‖ Anime News Network, Anime News Network. n.d. Web. 27 Feb 2013.