Young James Ray Steam is a maintenance boy in a Manchester mill and a Steampunk inventor in his own right. When his grandfather sends him a steam-producing ball, he is kidnapped by the O'Hara Foundation and taken to his cyborg father on the Steam Castle. The Castle seems innocuous, but it proves to be a huge weapons station, and a battle between the Foundation and the British army ensues.
Brought to you by the creator of Akira, Steamboy has the distinction of being one of the most expensive anime movies ever made, and it shows in the beautiful animation and machine designs. Unfortunately, it flopped financially in the United States.
- Action Survivor: Ray.
- Applied Phlebotinum: The Steamballs. Not only are three of them able to keep a giant castle floating in the air and provide almost unlimited quantities of steam at high pressure, they remain at room temperature the entire time.
- Awesome but Impractical: The Aero Corps.
- Awesome McCoolname: James Ray Steam.
- Badass Grandpa: Quite. Despite his old age, Lloyd is more than capable of kicking arse and taking names.
- British Accents
- Convection, Schmonvection: Steam-balls. See above.
- Cross-Dressing Voices: Ray is voiced by women in both the original Japanese (Anne Suzuki) and the dub (Anna Paquin).
- Defrosting Ice Queen: Scarlett rather quickly seems to move from thinking Ray an absolute idiot to becoming attracted to him.
- The Dumbledore: Lloyd.
- Epic Movie: A classic example. Again, highest-budget anime movie ever made.
- Eternal Engine: The Steam Castle. Not only is it ridiculously complicated on the inside, with giant pistons and wheels, but also incredibly dangerous on the outside as it freezes whatever it flies over.
- Evil Tower of Ominousness: The Steam Castle after it takes flight.
- For Science!: Edward Steam's motivation.
- Grey and Grey Morality: The movie carries a sense of regret that the Victorian sense of wonder towards the marvels of science had to end in the horrors of World War One, but also refuses to demonise George Stephenson or Edward Steam; James' idealistic view seems largely the result of his being a child.
- Hey, It's That Voice!: As well as Anna Paquin as Ray, on the voice actor side we have Kari Wahlgren playing Ray's love interest, and Moira Quirk of Nickelodeon Guts and My Life as a Teenage Robot fame voices the brother of one of Ray's friends.
- And Byron from Babylon 5 as a slimy henchman.
- Alfred "Doc Ock" Molina is the father (dub) and Patrick Stewart is Lloyd, the grandfather.
- Honest John's Dealership: Towards the end, when all starts to go hell in a steam-powered handbasket, Simon is still trying to sell the Steam Castle. The man could give CMOT Dibbler a run for his money.
- Husky Russkie: The two henchmen.
- Improvised Zipline
- Inferred Holocaust: London is saved when the steam castle explodes in the Thames but then you realize that a good chunk of London was frozen, blown up, and smashed during the latter half of the movie. Not to mention the flooding when the frozen clouds of steam melted. Regardless of how many weapons the foundations manages to sell, the British government will, at the very least, sue the living pants off the foundation for damages inured to their capital.
- Lighter and Softer: Well, compared to the director's previous work. Tell me you weren't surprised at the lack of Your Head Asplode scenes...
- Made of Explodium: And how.
- Meaningful Name: The Steam Tower is not only named after Eddy Steam, but is also powered by steam.
- Mecha-Mooks: The Steam Troopers look like this when they're deployed against the British Police, but it is subverted, to Scarlett's horror, when she finds them to be just men in Power Armor.
- Monowheel Mayhem: Ray uses one early in the film.
- Monumental Damage: The Tower Bridge takes quite a pummelling. Also, most of central London.
- No OSHA Compliance: The Steam Castle would have been condemned by any safety agency on the face of the Earth. Even the victorians(not exactly Safety Nazis) would have been appalled by the number of steam leaks and ruptures the steam castle develops as the movie progresses. Not to mention all of the giant gears and bottomless pits.
- Not So Different: Stevenson and Edward Steam's intention for the steamball is really quite similar to each other.
- Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: Anna Paquin does a frankly superb job of a Manchester accent as Ray in the dub, but her Canadian accent comes across at times.
- Oop North: The Steam family all hail from Manchester; noticeable in the dub.
- Padding: A good third of the movie, though it does sort of cross with Technology Porn.
- Patrick Stewart Speech: Delivered by the man himself. Responded to with an excellent retort:
"Shoot me and you'll set science back fifty years. But you won't stop it!"
- Power Armor: The O'Hara Foundation's Steam Troopers. Fridge Logic sets in when one realizes that men in metal suits should be cooking with those steam engines on their backs.
- Rule of Cool: Oh yes.
- Say My Name: Scarlett. Not in a romantic sense, but, say it with me now: SIIIMOOOOOOON.
- Scenery Porn
- Scenery Gorn: Dude.
- Science Is Bad: After being introduced to the Steam Castle, one might begin to wonder just what the hell the kindly elder Dr. Steam was thinking on helping to create it. Towards the end of the movie, we finally see what the good doctor's original intention for the Steam Castle was. How in the hell does someone get the idea to make a weapon out of a children's carnival!?
- The whole point of Lloyd's view is that Science Is not Bad. It's the People that are the problem. No matter what wonders science can make, if you put it in the hands of a bunch of Gun merchants who sold weapons to both sides of the American Civil War, nothing good will come out of it.
- Shout-Out: Scarlett's character was based on the same named character from Gone with the Wind. Possibly the credits give a nod to Hayao Miyazaki's Porco Rosso. Watch for it at Scarlet's plane scene where off to the right on his own is a strikingly familiar character (in human form) complete with tan trench coat, sunglasses, and mustache.
- Ray carrying Scarlett while flying through London felt Superman-esque.
- Spider Tank: Part of the O'Hara Foundation's Steam Army package.
- Spoiled Brat: Scarlett O'Hara. She's insufferably spoiled for a 14-year-old, which is the result of having five "mothers" (aka servants) who go through the "motherly" motions for her. She matures quite a bit during the movie and the ending credits implies she stopped being a spoiled girl and became an independent (but still haughty) woman.
- Steampunk: Taken Up to Eleven.
- Technology Porn: Naturally, since this is a Steampunk movie.
- Title Drop: Ray's grandfather calls him Steamboy.
- Theme Naming: It's a noun with five letters.
- Took a Level in Badass: Ray goes from being a scared kid running away from Russian mooks to in the beginning to taking out said mooks in the end of the film.
- Unrobotic Reveal: Scarlett thought the company made Mecha-Mooks, she was wrong.
- What Happened to the Mouse?: What happened to Scarlett's dog?
- Where Are They Now? Epilogue / And the Adventure Continues... - Shows the Steamboy universe's alternate timeline in clips where Lloyd Steam continues his pontificating to Ray, and bequeathing a final discovery (possibly electricity) to Ray before he dies and is buried, followed by a WWI style conflict complete dirigibles burning to the ground, a new villain, Ray picking up a partner/sidekick, and Scarlett (having dyed her hair to match her name) standing proudly in front of a plane she flies.