Anime. For the geek and the geek at heart. Animation for people who want five fingers on each hand of their cartoon characters. Great detail. Excellent story telling. And the list goes on and on. Since I was a young lad growing up inner city Los Angeles, California and I watched Akira for the first time I was hooked. Anime (Japanese Animation) has fans the world over. Whether you’re all about Gundam Wing, Full Metal Alchemist, Afro Samurai, Tenchi Muyo, Akira, Cowboy Bebop, Outlaw Star, Pokemon, Sailor Moon or anything Miyazaki, this article is for you. And if you love Steampunk, even better. So allow me the distinct pleasure of introducing you to: Berley’s Top Ten Favorite Steampunk Anime
Now before we start, keep in mind that although I do watch a lot of anime, there is only a few of them that are considered Steampunk. On top of that, this list is limited to Anime of any kind. Movies as well as television series. And seeing as how this is MY list, it goes without saying that if I haven’t seen it, it’s not going to make the list. Now with that said, let’s begin.
10/9. Avatar: The Last Airbender & Avatar: The Legend of Korra
What makes it Steampunk? This was a hard decision for several reasons. One, it’s American origin. Two, it’s principle animation is done in Korea. Three, because of the Steampunk elements prominent in both series made it difficult for me to decide which one deserved the higher spot. So, due to those stipulations, in the end it was a tie. The Steampunk in both these widely popular television series comes in the form of steam ships, airships, giant mechanical drills, submarines, cars and many other interesting gadgets and doodads. Not only do these two series give you a great story line, but they show what true Steampunk is and what it can do when applied properly to a wonderful story. The Steampunk in both series always enhances the story as opposed to overwhelming. And that’s why it deserves a spot in my top ten.
8. Princess Mononoke
What makes it Steampunk? Well for starters it’s Hayao Miyazaki. Second, this list is about my favorite Steampunk Anime. NOT, how many Steampunk elements there is in each Anime. Granted there are more Steampunk elements in both Avatar series, the story line of this masterpiece of a movie always gets to me. The story follows a banished prince sent on a mission to remove a curse that will eventually kill him. The story contains beautiful scenes, an engrossing story, and plenty of action. And thanks to the ‘gods versus guns aspect’, I highly recommend seeing this movie.
7. Nausicaa of the Valley of the Winds
What makes it Steampunk? I talked about this movie before in my top ten Steampunk movies. So it should come as no surprise for it to be here. And like before all the elements are here, air pirates, military airships, fancy contraptions, goggles and my favorite parts, the character and story. This movie is another Miyazaki masterpiece which I highly recommend. And if you’ve seen it before, see it again. For fun.
What makes it Steampunk? I’ve had SUCH a hard time placing this movie. In terms of Steampunk anime I place it very high. In terms of movies I like I place it a little lower. In fact if I arranged this list in order of my favorite anime to watch, period, it would be at the very bottom. However, all the Steampunk elements in Steamboy (which is too much to count for this blog) is more than enough to earn it’s place on this list but not in the top 5. That honor belongs to…
5. Howl’s Moving Castle in the Sky
What makes it Steampunk? I’ve also talked about this Miyazaki movie. Howl’s Moving Castle, as in the castle itself in the promotional poster above, is a magical moving castle (hence the legs) controlled by Howl, a narcissistic wizard played by Christian Bale and powered by a fire demon played by Billy Crystal. What’s not to love?
4. Castle in the Sky
What makes it Steampunk? Another Miyazaki movie. In a nut shell there’s airship pirates, a floating island, mechanical soldiers, mines, trains and a story and pacing worthy of Indiana Jones. Not only do I recommend this movie, I recommend anything and everything Miyazaki makes. Period.
3. Final Fantasy: Legend of the Crystals
What makes it Steampunk? Based on the widely popular video game, role playing game series series by Square Enix, formally Squaresoft, (specifically Final Fantasy IV) This anime became quite popular after Final Fantasy VII hit store shelves and Final Fantasy fans demanded more. And with this four part anime series they got more. Although the story line is quite simple the characters, Steampunk elements and story interactions helped earn it a place at number 3. The story takes a slightly more modern feel than the rest of the movies on this list however, there’s still more than enough Steampunk to keep it where it is. There are airships as well as airship pirates, motorcycles, motor boats and a few other things as well. But if I had to choose a favorite element about this particular anime, is that no matter how much Steampunk stuff is in it, the story is by far the most interesting thing about it. Other steampunk stories tend to call too much attention to their knick-knacks and doodads but this story doesn’t call attention to it at all. In fact they go through great lengths to force you to focus on the story and whatever tools may be, they’re just tools. Everything from the goggles, to the bombs, to the airships, to the rocket ships to the robots all serve a purpose as opposed to just being there for the sake of being there. Rather than try to explain the story, just see it yourself. Or play Final Fantasy IV. Or both. I highly recommend both.
2. Full Metal Alchemist/ Full Metal Alchemist: Brotherhood
Considered by many to be the greatest anime and manga ever made, Full Metal Alchemist broke the mold in pretty much every category possible. Fans the world over have fallen in love with the characters, the alchemy system, the animation and pretty much everything in between. What begins as two orphaned brothers, Edward Elric (right) and Alphonse Elric (left) trying and failing to bring their dead mother back to life turns into an adventure involving murderous homunculi, prosthetic mechanics, power hungry priests, corrupt politicians, military conspiracies and many other things that make for one wonderful story. or two depending on which series you like or both. But it doesn’t matter which Full Metal Alchemist you follow, the Steampunk is quite prominent in all three.
1. Last Exile
Although every anime on the list has Steampunk elements in one respect or another, only Last Exile has them all and then some. The story follows Claus Valca (bottom) and Lavi Head (top), a pilot (Claus) and navigator (Lavi) race team/ delivery partners. Their adventure starts when they are given a simple task: deliver a mysterious and powerful 11-year-old girl to air pirate captain and his loyal crew. A simple enough task at first but what happens during and after that makes for a wonderful adventure stretching across 25 episodes. The series has everything Steampunk and then some. Airship battles, dog fights, duels, gambling, races, gun fights, conspiracies and characters ranging from soldiers, aristocrats, mechanics, pilots and many others. If you love Steampunk and Anime, you’ll love Last Exile.
For those of you who have written to me about Curse Breaker’s paperback release, do not fret. Certain things still need doing, but when they are done, which will be soon, the paperback will finally be available on Amazon and a few other sites. I’ll let you know in next week’s blog. As for the ebook, my publisher as insured me that the editing marks in the ebook have been taken care of. I believe the marks will correct themselves the next time you update the kindle software. If not, I will see what I can do. I’m also offering an open invitation to any and all wordpress book review bloggers to review my novel Curse Breaker: Guild Assassin. If you’re a book reviewer and blogger on wordpress.com, and if you’re interested, just email me (firstname.lastname@example.org).
See you next week. Take care and like before, like always, thanks for reading.