Steamboy (2004) (Umbrella Entertainment) (Blu-ray Review)
Directed By: Katsuhiro Otomo
Starring: Anna Paquin, Patrick Stewart, Alfred Molina
Rated: PG/Region B (But will play in A)/1:85/1080p/Number of Discs 1
Available from Umbrella Entertainment
From the leader in anime Katsuhiro Otomo (Metropolis, Memories), comes his first feature-length directorial project since his breakthrough film, Akira. Ten years in the making, Steamboy is a retro science-fiction epic set in Victorian England. A prodigious inventor named Ray Steam receives a mysterious metal ball containing a new form of energy capable of powering an entire nation, the Steam Ball. Young Ray Steam must use the Steam Ball to fight evil, redeem his family, and save London from destruction. With more than 180,000 drawings and 400 CG cuts, Steamboy is one of the most elaborate animated features ever created.
Steamboy is from a famous director that gave us such classics as Akira. Now, here on Blu-ray from Umbrella Entertainment I have to say that as far as a transfer goes, this one can look a bit dark for my taste. When things are close-up you can certainly see detail but the style of the movie makes is a more dark look and some hardcore HD folks might be a little bit let down by that. From a plot side of things, this one might not be on the Akira level (or even Metropolis) but it does tell a good story that keeps you watching even if the movie offers up a few slow spots that bring the overall pace of the film down from time to time. The voice cast is great and packs a real punch if you don’t want to watch with the original Japanese audio and the subtitles. I think the voice actors and what they put into this one might be what holds this one together overall. While I know it isn’t the original audio that’s probably where you want to go when you check this one out.
The movie is based in England and that’s a bit of an odd place for Anime to be set. Katsuhiro Otomo turned in his Cyberpunk ways for some Steampunk and I’m not sure it works out as best it could but it does work out perhaps just enough. Set in the 1860s and focusing around people being kidnapped for such things as highly compressed form of energy, this might not be every Anime fan’s cup of tea, but it is an interesting watch if you are a fan of Katsuhiro Otomo and what he had done before. Some have called this one a little dull and while I’d not go THAT far, I can certainly see why some might think so. The disc comes with interviews with the director among others. And several other nice things to watch once the movie is finished. I know the back of the case says region “B” but rest a sure that this one will also play in your American players as well.
– INTERVIEW WITH KATSUHIRO OTOMO
– MULTI-SCREEN LANDSCAPE STUDY
– RE-VOICING STEAM BOY featurette
– VOYAGE OF STEAM BOY
– THE ADVENTURE CONTINUES (Clean ED feature)
– PRODUCTION GALLERY
– ANIMATION ONION SKINS
Quality of Transfer: 81%