Young James Ray Steam is a maintenance boy in a Manchester mill and a Steam Punkinventor 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 the highest-budget anime movie ever made, and it shows in the beautiful animation and machine designs. Unfortunately, it flopped financially in the United States.
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. This has something to do with a mineral dissolved in the water they're filled with. That's all they say about the matter.
Alternate History: Becomes pretty obvious early on when Locomotives that can drive on roads and Zepplins show up in 1866(At least a good few decades before they would have otherwise). Also explains how the Great London Exhibition is now taking place in 1866 instead of 1851(in a different part of the city) and how the steam castle can ram the Tower bridge, which didn't even start construction for another 20 years in our universe.
Badass Grandpa: Quite. Despite his old age, Lloyd is more than capable of kicking arse and taking names.
Boring, but Practical: Robert Stephenson's inventions aren't nearly as outrageously advanced as those developed by the Steam family or used by the O'Hara Foundation. Nevertheless, the machines used by the British Army are easily 50 years ahead of their time, and even the locomotives that he employs to stop the Steam Castle are beyond what would have been considered state-of-the-art at the time.
Defrosting Ice Queen: Scarlett rather quickly seems to move from thinking Ray an absolute idiot to becoming attracted to him.
Determinator: Edward took a blast of steam to the face, disfiguring him, and he tries to make his dream of a steam castle come true, even losing the Steamball, workers, and various valves don't stop him.
Mr. Stephenson as well. He has his battle wagons sent out to stop the steam castle, then he's on board the royal navy vessel to stop it. When it it's frozen, apparently he got out and ran across the ice to the train yard to try to slow the castle with trains. When under attack, he orders a rifle brought to him, and tries to defend the train yard.
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.
Grey and Gray 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.
Honest Johns Dealer Ship: 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.
Monumental Damage: The Tower Bridge takes quite a pummeling. 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.
One Family Industrial Revolution: The Steam family seem to be single-handedly responsible for a lot of technological wonders in the film. That being said, they're probably not responsible for all of them.
"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.
Fridge Horror comes into play when you consider the possibility that they actually were cooking in their suits, given the overall quality of the Foundation's inventions.
Red Shirt Army: Defied by Mr. Stephenson. The police are incredibly inefficient against the Foundations technology and troopers, so the army engages with Stephenson's battle wagons and even the playing field.
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.
When Ray's out walking through Manchester, he passes by a pub called the Rover's Return.
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.
Too Dumb to Live: The O'Hara foundation courtyard has turned into a battle ground with explosions and smashed steam soldiers. Scarlett walks out into the middle of it with a parasol, oblivious to the carnage. Only a dead soldier finally reminds her that, explosions and gunfire are going up all around, and she could die.
Nearly becomes a case of shoot the messenger, when Stevenson's troops fire at (or past) her on her way to negotiate with Queen Victoria to try and stop the fighting
Took a Level in Badass: Ray goes from being a scared kid running away from mooks to in the beginning to taking out said mooks in the end of the film.
There were 4 O'Hara Gentlemen chasing after Ray in the beginning, the two operating the Black Devastation are absent after they fail to catch Ray.
Pretty much any character introduced in the first act in Manchester, but particularly Pete the foreman, Mrs. Steam (who nary merits a mention from her husband), the bullies, Clifford the paper boy, and Ray's friend and her brother who are staying over. Each has a scene devoted to them, then promptly vanishes from the plot.
"Where Are They Now?" Epilogue / And the Adventure Continues - Shows the Steamboy Alternate Timeline in clips where Lloyd Steam continues his pontificating to Ray, and bequeathing a final discovery (possibly electricity or light bulbs) to Ray before he dies and is buried, followed by a WWI style conflict with dirigibles burning to the ground and Tommy paratroopers, 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.