Following a limited U.S. theatrical run courtesy of Sony Pictures, the latest feature from acclaimed anime director Katsuhro Ôtomo (Akira) makes its eagerly awaited home video debut today. The directors cut of the family-oriented Steamboy rockets to stores complete with a number of extra features for animation fans.
Set in 19th-Century London, Steamboy tells the story of an inventor named Rei, who receives a mysterious invention from his grandfather in America on the eve of the first World Expo. A metal ball containing a new form of energy capable of powering an entire nation promises to change the age of steam, but it can also help Rei fight evil, redeem his family and save London from destruction. Ôtomo co-wrote the script with Sadayuki Murai, who previously scripted Perfect Blue and Millennium Actress with director Satoshi Kon.
In crafting Steamboys visuals, Ôtomo and crew blended traditional animation with digital technology, combining more than 180,000 drawings with approximately 400 CG cuts. Budgeted at $20 million, the film is one of the most expensive anime features ever made. Financial problems plagued the pic, which spent 10 years in production before finally premiering in Japan in July of 2004. It went on to screen as a special presentation at the 2004 Toronto Intl Film Festival and closed the 61st Venice Intl Film Festival.
Extra features included on the Steamboy DVD include an interview with Ôtomo, a multi-screen landscape study, a gallery of production drawings, animation onion skins, an ending montage and a featurette titled Re-Voicing Steamboy. Released by Columbia Tristar Home Entertainment, the DVD carries a suggested retail price of $26.96.