Let’s go punk with Steampunk

Steam Punk themed anime

Steam Punk is a sub-genre of Science fiction which is mostly depicted as inspired by 19th century (or Victorian Era) imagery often set in alternate history, a fantasy world or even futuristic setting where steam power is the obsolete technology. On the menu today is two Steam Punk anime, the movie Howl’s Moving Castle and the series Fullmetal Alchemist.

Howl’s Moving Castle (Hauru no ugoku Shiro)

Howl’s Moving Castle follows the young Sophie Hatter, eldest of three daughters, a woman doomed to the boring life as a hat maker. Sophie resigns herself to her fate, but destiny has luckily, other plans for her. Cursed by the Witch of the Waste with the body of a 90-year-old woman, she finds her way to a moving castle inhabited by the wizard Howl, rumoured by all to devour the souls of young girls. Cursed by the Witch as well, Howl is seeking the love of young girl to help him break the curse.

One can imagine how it feels to suddenly find yourself old and feeble, in the blink of an eye, trying to do things you could have done with ease just a little while ago, this is very well portrayed in the movie.

The film is based on the enchanting novel of the same name by English writer Diana Wynne Jones and the book has been a loved and cherished by readers for over 20 years. An interesting plot and beautifully crafted, the movie is captivating and until the end worth the wait to see if Howl and Sophie’s curses will be lifted. And as the castle moves around there is a sense of awe at it’s movement. The artwork is really well done and the voice actors conveys the emotions of the characters rather amicably.

It is Studio Gibli at its best, filled with feelings of melancholy (sometimes Sophie’s) as well as wonder such as the fact that there are doors in that castle that can open any place in the world! And the world is very steampunk with its mix of Victorian Age clothing and such, technological elements such as cars and the steam-driven, metallic Chicken-legged moving castle. Throw in the magic and this movie is bound to captivate its viewer.

FullMetal Alchemist (Hagame no Renkinjutsushi)

Through the arcane science of alchemy, two brothers try to resurrect their dead mother. But something goes wrong, and the resurrection fails, exacting a high price on the brothers. Edward Elric loses his entire right arm and part of his left leg but his little brother Alphonse, nearly dies but is plucked from death as Edward desperately fuses his brother’s soul to a suit of armor with alchemy before passing out. Alphonse takes his body to their adoptive family, the Rockbells who happens to be prosthetic (called automail in this world) experts, who fits Edward with automail limbs.

They set out on a journey, after recovering and learning more on alchemy at a special academy, to become State Alchemists, which will help Edward to do research as he aims to get their bodies back through alchemical means. When we enter the story they are looking for an artifact called the philosopher’s stone, the first step into a great adventure.

Full Metal Alchemist is a great anime. The proof is in the fact that it keeps the storyline flowing, characters that you do not expect to return surprises you by turning up in storylines and the character building is well crafted, as you tend to learn new things about the characters in every episode making you feel as if you know them personally at the end of the series. The world of the anime is alive and is a mixture of steampunk again filled with Victorian imagery as well as technology.

The animation is precise and well-drawn as is the design of the characters. And the soundtrack includes talents such as the popular artists Porno Graffitti and L’Arc en Ciel to name a few, some of the songs you might remember for years after, and the soundtrack is huge.

Another factor is that is can be very humorous. Although the anime is dark at times it also serves up a dish of humour to make sure the viewer do not fall into the darkness of its plot. A great example is Edward, who is over-conscious about his height and always freaking out when the people think he is Alphonse’s little brother.

This anime is a great package of awesome.

Other Steam Punk anime to recommend is D. Gray-man, Castle in the Sky as well as Last Exile.

This review was previously published in TechSmart Magazine.Please follow the link: http://goo.gl/I6Ecwh.