The Top 9 Steampunk Anime You Don’t Want to Miss

15 Sep

It’s no secret that steampunk has become a bit of a thing lately. While it was once celebrated only by a small portion of the geek and literary community, it has really been “picking up steam” in recent years. (I know, I know.)

Puns aside, it’s easy to see why steampunk captures the imagination. It mixes the best parts of a bygone area (usually Victorian) with futuristic elements, resulting in a dreamlike science fiction world where adventures seem to be waiting around every corner.

While some of you may have already been exposed to the concept of steampunk thanks to movies like The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen or Disney’s Atlantis: The Lost Empire, Japan is no stranger to the steampunk phenomenon either, with many of its most beloved works falling under the banner of the steampunk genre.

So whether you’re a steampunk aficionado or a proud fan of anime and manga, this list brings you the best of both worlds. Enjoy!

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Last Exile


One of the first anime I ever watched (and in English, no less!), Last Exile expertly fuses the best of anime and steampunk into one fast-paced adventure. With a world full of flying airships and a hint of the kawaii-style cuteness you’d expect from anime, Last Exile has a surprising back story full of intrigue and dark intentions.

While I don’t want to give away the entire story, Last Exile will especially appeal to those of you who love stories with post-apocalyptic elements, unexpected plot and character twists, and the theme of humanity bringing about its own demise.

Full Metal Alchemist


As I’ve mentioned previously, Full Metal Alchemist (or FMA for short) is an anime that I recommend to nearly everyone, but doubly so if you have an interest in steampunk.

Set in a world that runs off of alchemy and the idea of equivalent exchange, Full Metal Alchemist has more than just amazing world building and complex mysteries; it also has characters that completely grab your attention and refuse to let go.

While not as ‘strictly’ steampunk as Last Exile, steampunk plays a major and extremely necessary part in Full Metal Alchemist, with the main character relying on prosthetic limbs known as automail to live a semi-normal life. FMA also explores the difficulty of adapting to a life with automail, which will appeal to steampunk fans who are interested in robotic or artificial limbs.

Howl’s Moving Castle


While Hayao Miyazaki of Studio Ghibli is a household name in Japan and well known to fans of Japanese animation, his films also have a dedicated following in the steampunk community due to their mixture of steampunk and fantastical science fiction themes.

Arguably the most famous of Hayao Miyazaki’s steampunk-influenced works, Howl’s Moving Castle is based on the novel by the same name by Diana Wynne Jones.

One of the most successful Japanese films of all time (grossing over 231 million dollars worldwide), Pixar worked on the dubbing for the English version, which includes the stellar voicework of Christian Bale, Billy Crystal, and Crispin Freeman.

Even if you’ve never found steampunk to be your cup of tea, I’m fairy certain that if any movie could change your mind, Howl’s Moving Castle would be it.

Laputa: Castle in the Sky


Another film by Hayao Miyazaki, Laputa: Castle in the Sky is the perfect film for those of you who love a good adventure story mixed with historical and literary influences.

The name Laputa is taken from Jonathan Swifts’s classic novel Gulliver’s Travels, and is (just as it appears in Miyazaki’s film) a floating island in the sky.

This film will appeal to those of you who love stories that deal with ancient civilizations (think The Road to El Dorado by DreamWorks or The Time Machine by H.G. Wells) and themes of the present meeting the past.

Metropolis


I was lucky enough to catch a screening of Metropolis at the JICC last year, and I can definitely say that the film gave me a great deal to think about days after I finished watching it.

Very much a post-apocalyptic story, Metropolis deals with the themes of what humanity will become if it doesn’t curb its unchecked consumerism and its its rampant disregard for the environment.

Loosely based on the 1949 Metropolis manga created by the late Osamu Tezuka (often referred to as the Father of Anime), Metropolis will definitely appeal to fans of dystopian steampunk or science fiction.

Steamboy


Co-written and directed by Katsuhiro Otomo (best known for the anime Akira), Steamboy has the distinction of being the most expensive full-length Japanese movie to date with over ten years spent on production.

Aside from its impressive production specs however, Steamboy features a more ‘traditional’ form of steampunk, with a heavy influence of 19th-century England evident in both the world and characters of the film.

While Steamboy isn’t known to have the most compelling of plots, it makes up for it with stunning steampunk and science fiction aestetics.

D. Gray Man


Based on the hugely popular manga of the same name, the steampunk influences in D. Gray Man are more subtle than some of the other titles on this list, but are definitely present and important to the story.

Focusing on themes of evil and corruption, D. Gray Man is set in an alternate timeline in 19th-century England and mixes the technology of Victorian England with robotics.

D. Gray Man is a good segway into the steampunk genre for those of you who are more familiar with anime than steampunk.

Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind


Also by Hayao Miyazaki (I’m sure you’re beginning to see a theme), Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind is another anime that I saw in English and enjoyed immensely, due in large part to the wonderful contribution by Patrick Stewart.

A post-apocalyptic adventure story, Nausicaä also deals with themes of environmental destruction and how important it is to respect the earth and all living things if humans hope to find survival in future wrought with destruction created by their own hands.

This film might a little ‘out there’ for some of you, as leans more toward the fantasy genre than the science fiction genre at times, but it is definitely an interesting story with a unique way of incorporating steampunk elements.

Samurai 7


Some of you might recognize this anime from a previous article, while others of you might be thinking “steampunk and samurai? Together? Sign me up!”

And you would be right in thinking that, as Samurai 7 is known for its high production value (each episode cost over $300,000 a piece), and intriguing execution of steampunk in a Japanese setting.

A story of survival at its heart, Samurai 7 follows a village as it tries to defend itself from the Nobuseri—a cruel race of warriors who are part men, part machine—by calling upon a unique set of samurai.

Samurai 7 offers a great look at what steampunk can look like in an Asian setting, and is another great anime for those of you who love Japanese culture but want to slowly expand into steampunk.

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While this list covered anime where steampunk is an influential and necessary part of the story, there are many anime that have steampunk elements. Some of the more popular series include One Piece, Fairy Tail, Pandora Hearts, and Tsubasa: Resevoir Chronicle.

But what about you? Any steampunk or steampunk anime to share?

Also, in case you missed it, my follow Mom’s Basementer Debra just published an awesome post about the Steampunk Haunted House she’s putting together. Neat stuff!


postcard – Pirate G…

$3.00

very cute calcifer …

$10.00

Castle in the Sky C…

$7.25

Teto Fox Squirrel P…

$30.00

Howl’s Moving C…

$5.00

Hand Painted Canvas…

$45.00

Hand-crafted Wood P…

$28.00

Homunculus Full Met…

$4.99

Full Metal Alchemis…

$25.00

Howl’s Moving C…

$29.99

Cute Skull Goggles …

$21.99

Teto Crochet Stuffe…

$28.00

Howl’s Moving C…

$10.00

Howl’s Moving C…

$14.50

Purple Gear Kitty H…

$20.00

New D.Gray Man Anim…

$10.99

10 Responses to “The Top 9 Steampunk Anime You Don’t Want to Miss”

  1. Matthew September 15, 2011 at 3:56 pm #

    Can I recommend individuals also look at the Read or Die OVA? While the main characters themselves don’t feature prominently a steampunk motif, the setting and world around them is heavily influenced by it.

    • imaginaryerin September 15, 2011 at 4:23 pm #

      Hi Matthew, thanks so much for the recommendation! I have been meaning to watch the “Read or Die” OVA but haven’t had the chance. Now I will definitely need to watch it knowing about the steampunk influence. :)

      Books + steampunk + anime: three of my favorite things. Sign me up! (Goes to find Read or Die OVA…)

  2. NateLewis January 23, 2012 at 7:45 pm #

    Is that just the OAV or the actual series too cause I saw them both

    • imaginaryerin January 25, 2012 at 7:41 pm #

      Hi Nate!

      I am pretty sure it goes for both… though as you’ve seen both, what do you think? Do you think that both the OVAs and the anime contain Steampunk elements?

      Looking forward to hearing your opinion. :)

  3. rofl sticks February 15, 2012 at 7:10 am #

    wikipedia’s steampunk list put into your simple words. try a little harder.

    • imaginaryerin February 15, 2012 at 1:53 pm #

      Hi rofl,

      I’m definitely sorry that you feel that way, but as this list is an intro and overview for people who might not have already seen these titles (or might not be overly familiar with anime), I honestly felt that simple was best.

      If you’d ever like to write a guest post for this site with more detail on steampunk anime than I’ve provided, I’d be happy to let you to do that. :) I’m by no means an expert, and would love to have a post written by someone who knows steampunk anime better than I do. Just leave another comment with your real email and I’ll be in touch!

      Take care rofl, and thanks so much for taking the time to stop by. Have a great day!

    • Rubella March 10, 2012 at 8:51 pm #

      Try not being a douche.

  4. Candy August 7, 2012 at 10:05 pm #

    what about eden of the east? :D

  5. Sabrina October 13, 2012 at 9:12 pm #

    I believe you can add Chrno Crusade to the list. It definantly had some steampunk elements to it.

    • Eme November 26, 2012 at 2:37 am #

      “Secret of cerulean sand” is also a good steampunk adventure.

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