Steamboy by Katsuhiro Otomo – the man behind Akira. Oh dear…

Disappointing really. The steampunk setting is really well realised, and features R. Stephenson as a hero, which should get it bonus points. Unfortunately the story suffers from Anime exposition – we can’t have a plot without explaining it to you. It would be horrible if someone misunderstood the imagery. Explain explain explain. Instead of showing you – which is what a good film is all about. Show instead of tell.

So when the beautifully hand-drawn steam engines are exploding, the characters are having deep and weighty discussions on the evils of science driven by capitalism, the audience yawns and looks at its watch – waiting for something to happen.

A much better exploration of the same themes is Miyazakis Princess Mononoke, which has the added benefit of not beating you over the head with its conclusions. Science, capitalism and nature are not necessarily opposed. Nature is not universally good and pleasant (ask a herbivore). Science and progress are not uniformly evil (fire keeps you warm at night, wheels make transport and commerce possible).