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Let me just say that we at the Steampunk Store believe that the retro-future genre contains some of the best anime titles ever made. Dissenting voices? I thought so. Get off the beaten track like Naruto, Dragon Ball and City Hunter to discover real Japanese animation.
After all, with their characteristic technology and their generally deep plot elements, Steampunk animationshave the particularity of being among those that are both visually and mentally stimulating.
So what makes a steampunk manga ?
Let's start with the fact that although manga is a Japanese comic book, we are going to make a TOP of the anime, more visual and mainstream. The steampunk manga universe is generally located in alternative universes that are populated with similar or more advanced versions of Victorian technology. For example, steam engines and other notable aspects of industrial revolution are well represented. So, without further ado, here are our top 10 picks for the best steampunk anime ever!
Release date: June 2004 - December 2004
This action-packed shonen anime from 2004 has a story that is loosely based on one of the best samurai movies ever made, the 7 samurai (I think you get the idea). The plot of the anime is quite simple, with a land ruled by fear under the rule of the Nobuseri, a race of brutal warriors who are partly machines, people are oppressed. To counter the threat, a young priestess travels and gathers samurai to protect the population.
Although the plot of the anime is quite simple, its execution, as well as the many steampunk elements present, make it a very engaging series. The action scenes, especially those involving the half-machine, are a real pleasure to watch. Of course, with Gonzo's own animation quality, steampunk fans can be assured that this anime is well worth watching.
Air Date: October 2006 - September 2008
D. Gray Man is one of those anime that is very popular with the public. Gray Man is one of those anime that you can't help but love. After all, with an extremely sympathetic cast and an extremely engaging universe, the spectators were immediately seduced by the universe of the exorcists and Akuma. Created from the really thorough manga, the plot of the anime is quite solid too.
If the steampunk elements of D. Gray-Man are quite subtle, the influences of the genre on several key aspects of the plot are indisputable. The Noah clan (also known as Noah), on the other hand, uses technology that seems very anachronistic, including very advanced machines whose design is obviously inspired by Victorian technology, such as Allen's cursed passageway. In addition to technology, the presence of corruption, which is a common theme in steampunk titles, is also present in the Vatican itself.
Air date: October 1998 - March 1999
From the title of this anime alone, one could immediately say that it is a steampunk title. The plot of this little futuristic gem is quite simple. With the use of steam as the main source of energy in Steam City, criminals and other indecent people have started to use the white haze of the city's steam to carry out their evil activities. It is up to the young detective Narutaki, his assistant nurse Ling Ling and their mentor Goriki to solve the crimes and keep the peace.
The steampunk genre elements of this title are unmistakable, from the Steam City dungeon to the Mergansers that are very present in each episode. Although the anime is marketed to young anime fans, the design aspects of the title, as well as its rather dark setting, make it an enjoyable show for anime fans of all ages.
Air Date: April 1990 - March 1991
With Nadia: The secret of the blue water, we have the right to see that the famous novel of Jules Verne, 20 000 leagues under the sea is adapted in animated form . Inspired by one of the founding works of the genre, the project comes from the creative minds behind Neon Genesis Evangelion. Set in an alternate universe in 1889, the anime features Nadia, a mysterious girl whose pendant is the focus of a hunt for jewel thieves. Eventually, she is rescued by none other than Captain Nemo, who helms the mighty submarine, the Nautilus.
As the young girl and her friend the inventor Jean travel with the Nautilus crew, they find themselves in the middle of a conflict where the freedom of the world is at stake. Throughout the anime, steampunk elements abound, from the technology used in the Nautilus itself to Jean's inventions. In fact, Jules Verne's novel is widely regarded as one of the best examples of steampunk literature. With the anime inspired by the timeless classic, how could it lack inspiration? In short, a masterpiece as we are used to from studi ghibli. So kawaii.
Film of may 2001
A wonderful futuristic animation film, a real treat for the eyes. An effort in the animation is underlined that shines in all the frames with absolutely breathtaking 2d visuals and an avant-garde CG of 2001 (no joke, the CG is impressive for the era). Keeping the original drawings of the characters of Osamu Tezuka (Astroboy) is such an ingenious decision, which fits perfectly in this world between dieselpunk and steampunk creates an incredible atmosphere.
By adding police aspects and commentaries on topics such as classism and segregation, Metropolis amazingly captures the look and feel of the people in the 1920s and 40s.
At the heart of the film is the question of finding one's identity and (as corny as it may sound) the power that love has over the other. It's a beautiful film, both in story and style.
Air date: Netflix
Levius, adapted from the manga by Haruhisa Nakata, is one of those series that are marked by an exciting steampunk atmosphere. The concept combines a dystopian 19th century story with an initiatory journey into the world of mechanical boxing. An unusual fusion of elements that works surprisingly well given the strong visual style and the emotional depth of the series.
The namesake of the series, Levius, is a war orphan taken in by his uncle, marginalized by society and forced into a cyber arm; He has a talent for cyborg fights, even if his training causes him a lot of trouble.
The visuals of season 1 of Levius are very cool and contribute to the breathless atmosphere of the show, the whistling and spinning steampunk prosthetics give the different fighters a striking appearance and exciting fights. The idea of managing the material and the spectacular techniques that only completes the atypical fusion of ideas and spectacular performances. The framework of the sport of competition is an effective way to invest the spectator emotionally and dramatically.
With a well-established fan base, Levius should find its fair share of fans who will be impressed with the adaptation and hopefully Netflix's marketing that could draw in a crowd for the upcoming second season.
Air date: October 2011 March 2012
Last Exile is one of the best examples of anime that fully embraces the steampunk genre. Fam, The Silver Wing, which is a sequel to the successful 2003 anime, takes place four years after the events of the original Last Exile title. The sequel features the young pilot, Fam, who decides to help a princess by becoming her "wings".
The steampunk elements of Last Exile, are grandiose like airships (zeppelins?) and other post-European technologies that are still the rage. Other popular steampunk themes, such as the lack of resources and the focus on the oppressed, as well as the characterization of rulers as corrupt, are also present. Last Exile is certainly one of the most remarkable steampunk titles of the last years.
Movie of July 2004
Already in our TOP 20 of the best Steampunk movies, Steamboy is, in many ways, the love letter of Manga to the Steampunk genre. With a story that takes place in another Britain at the time of the industrial revolution, the futuristic universe is striking. After Ray, the film's protagonist, receives a machine from his grandfather, the young man finds himself in the middle of a deadly game of cat and mouse, where he is pitted against powers far beyond his own.
Although some critics have stated that Steamboy is a rather simplistic story in nature, all, audiences and press alike, have been unanimous on the excellent production values of this animated film, the consensus being that the film is a satisfying visual feast. Even now, Steamboy is one of the most expensive anime films in Japan to date, using over 180,000 drawings and 440 CG scenes. The film also took a whole decade to complete, and as such is a work of art in Japanese culture. To go to see if possible on big screen, we take a lot of eyes. If you are a fan of the Steampunk genre, this movie will certainly interest you.
Air Date: April 2009 - July 2010
The story of Edward and Alphonse Elric is one of the most remarkable stories that anime has ever told in recent years. Indeed, with its rich story, deep philosophical underpinnings and unforgettable characters through and through, Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood, is one of the best examples not only of the steampunk genre, but of manga and anime as a whole. Ranked as one of the best rated anime of the last few years, it is certainly one that deserves to be at the top of every manga fan's must-see list.
The steampunk elements of FMA is also quite open, the design of the anime being so strongly influenced by the industrial Europe. Edward's automaton arm alone is a very big steampunk element that can be seen in every episode of the anime. Overall, the daring of the story, the weapons of the main characters, as well as the omnipresent tension between the classes, are very remarkable examples of common themes present in the genre.
Release date: March 1984
Nausicaa is not only a classic of the steampunk genre. It is a classic of the anime in general. Critically acclaimed, known for its commercial success and created by Hayao Miyazaki, the greatest animator of all time. Nausicaa has become a timeless classic about the young and brave Nausicaa and her epic conquest. In addition to a timeless story, the film is also home to one of the most remarkable engines of destruction in anime, which has influenced anime for decades.
What makes Nausicaa so steampunk? Well, there's basically everything that anime fans love about the genre. Air pirates, futuristic machines, military airships, characters with googles and a steampunk style of dress are just a few of the many elements that are commonly found in titles of the genre. Nausicaa is a masterpiece from start to finish, which is why the film is our number one on this list.114
This concludes our list of the best steampunk titles ever made into animation. Of course, with such a creative genre, there are countless others that deserve to be mentioned like Trigun or Attack of the Titans. If a work comes to your mind, don't hesitate to mention it on our social networks for more conviviality.
Until then, we'll meet again for a next article, soon vaporists !