Tesla and the Lamplighter

The wifey and I watched a great short animation the other day. It’s called Tesla and The Lamplighter. It’s a cute non-verbal story about a lamplighter helping to revitalize Tesla’s love of inventing.

While there are an intro voiceover and an outro voiceover no characters speak. With the quality of the animation and the flow of the score, it doesn’t need them to. At fourteen minutes long it’s the perfect length for your midday stretch. Or just long enough to eat a snack.

This short is the first release from CAROUSELpictures. There are two ways to pay them, you may rent it for three bucks. Or buy it for $6.50.  If you feel like the teaser is something you see yourself watching more then once, then, by all means, please buy it. But if you’re only going to watch it once renting is the way to go.

I’m very interested in Vimeo as a platform for independent creators. Vimeo does not compress your video file as much as YouTube does, and with a way to set payments for your work. It shows promise of slipping into the void that will occur when YouTube has to reinvent itself to keep up with current demands of content creators and advertisers. With my current interest in getting my own short film out to the world, I’ll have to look into this more thoroughly. 

Please follow the link below and enjoy a teaser of Tesla and the Lamplighter.

Steampunk in Animation Pt. 3: Last Exile: Fam, The Silver Wing

Shorewood Blu-ray OcardLast week I reviewed Last Exile, a fun steampunk anime with many dark secrets at its core. Today I’d like to introduce you to Last Exile: Fam, The Silver Wing, another steampunk anime series which came out several years after the original Last Exile.

Here’s what the product page has to say about Last Exile: Fam, The Silver Wing:

Soaring adventure and high-flying heroism fill the skies in Last Exile – Fam – The Silver Wing, a thrilling new chapter in the Last Exile saga!

Years ago, humanity abandoned the ruined Blue World. Generations later, with the planet again capable of sustaining life, mankind returned. In the skies above the reborn world, rebellious young Fam and her best friend Giselle make their living as Sky Pirates. Atop sleek Vespa Vanships, the girls dart fearlessly through the clouds, capturing and selling airborne battleships for profit. It’s a life of care-free swashbuckling – until the Ades Federation attacks. The only nation to remain on Blue World during humanity’s exile, The Ades Federation wages war against those who returned only after the planet’s darkest days had passed. When Fam and Giselle rescue a princess from the clutches of the rampaging Ades armada, they join the young royal’s battle to save her Kingdom from destruction – and undertake the impossible mission of uniting humanity in peace.

The story of Last Exile: Fam, The Silver Wing is strong enough to stand on its own but is definitely more fun to watch if you’ve already enjoyed the original Last Exile. In many ways the second story mirrors the first. There are many references to the first anime but all of them make sense within the story of Last Exile: Fam, The Silver Wing. We even get to see several characters from the original Last Exile, including a brief appearance from the main characters themselves at the end.

One thing about the original Last Exile that really stood out was the sheer variety of airships and the different ways they were used. I was particularly intrigued by their use of sonar to track other airships.

In Last Exile: Fam, The Silver Wing there’s an even larger variety of airships and the main characters are actually sky pirates who spend their days hunting “skyfish”. The way these sky pirates work is awesome to watch in action. They are full of cool tricks which they use to minimize damage done to the “skyfish” they catch.

With only 23 episodes, Last Exile: Fam, The Silver Wing is even shorter than the original but it manages to tell a well rounded story in that short amount of time. The story of this anime isn’t as dark as the story of the original Last Exile but it’s definitely a story that will make you think about human nature and the nature of war. The characters are lots of fun, especially when you get to re-meet the crew from the original Last Exile, and the world of this story is an especially beautiful one.

Purchase Last Exile: Fam, The Silver Wing here!

Steampunk in Animation Pt. 2: The Last Exile

LastExileI’ve talked before about how many of my favourite examples of steampunk are animated and about my eagerness to dive further into steampunk animation, especially steampunk anime(Japanese animation). The Last Exile is one of the most highly recommended steampunk anime, so it seemed like a natural place to start my journey before diving into the obscure reaches of the anime world.

I’m not so great at the summary thing so I’ll start by sharing what’s on the Funimation page:

It’s the dawn of the Golden Age of Aviation on planet Prester, and retro-futuristic sky vehicles known as vanships dominate the horizon. Claus Valca – a flyboy born with the right stuff – and his fiery navigator Lavie are fearless racers obsessed with becoming the first sky couriers to cross the Grand Stream in a vanship. But when the high-flying duo encounters a mysterious girl named Alvis, they are thrust into the middle of an endless battle between Anatoray and Disith – two countries systematically destroying each other according to the code of chivalric warfare. Lives will be lost and legacies determined as Claus and Lavie attempt to bring peace to their world by solving the riddle of its chaotic core.

Like many of the best anime, The Last Exile is a short, self contained series with only 26 half hour episodes–but you will be amazed at just how much story these animators manage to fit into a short period of time. I am honestly still reeling from everything that happened in just the second half of this anime and I’m already excited to watch it again to pick up on all the nuances.

Right away I adored Lavie–the extremely talented and quirky girl mechanic is a fairly common anime trope but it’s one of my favourites–and by the end of the first episode I was already enthralled by the variety of airships roaming the skies of Prester.

At the beginning The Last Exile is a fun story that marries all the things you love about steampunk with some of the best anime tropes, but after the first five or six episodes the story takes a sharp turn onto a very dark path with a strange cult-like Guild at the center. Quirky, even outrageous characters and awkward romance scenes are skillfully used to keep it from being extremely heavy, but at its core this anime’s story is deeply disturbing.

I do kind of wish The Last Exile went on a little bit longer because a couple of the character arcs felt rushed, especially at the end. Everything did come to a satisfying conclusion, but there are a couple points where you can tell they’re really trying to jam a lot of story into the 26 episodes they were given.

I would recommend The Last Exile to anyone interested in exploring steampunk anime. The characters are truly likable and the story is fascinating, delving far deeper into the nature of humanity than you might expect, especially from something this short.

Does this anime sound awesome to you? Do you know an epic steampunk anime I should feature here? Let me know in the comments below!

Steampunk Animation Pt. 1

English DVD edition of one of my favorite steampunk movies, Howl's Moving Castle I may be obsessed with books but when it comes to steampunk I’m all about the visual media, especially when it’s animated. Almost all my favorite examples of steampunk are some kind of animation, whether it’s a series, a movie or a video game. There’s just something magical about the way animation brings steampunk worlds to life. I mean, airships are cool, but they’re way cooler when they’re animated. Or at least I think they are.

Most of the steampunk animation I’ve watched has been Japanese animation or anime. American animation is almost exclusively for children and tends to center around a relatively narrow handful of topics, but anime explores every genre. In fact, anime often goes to the extremes of every genre, including horror–both the gory and the psychological kind.

Some of the best known anime is steampunk. Howl’s Moving Castle is an anime movie based on a novel by Diana Wynne Jones set in a wondrous steampunk setting. I’ve never read the book, but Howl’s Moving Castle was one of my first introductions to both anime and steampunk. Magic in the world of Howl’s Moving Castle can be either fun or dangerous and is both throughout the movie. Created by Studio Ghibli, one of the most well loved names in anime, the animation of Howl’s Moving Castle might be old but it still looks fantastic today.

Laputa: Castle in the Sky is another Studio Ghibli masterpiece with a fascinating steampunk city. It’s not quite as well known as some of the other Studio Ghibli movies but it is just as awesome. This movie is a great place to start if you’re really into the lighter side of steampunk. Also, airships.

Want a series to dig into? Full Metal Alchemist: Brotherhood is an incredibly popular steampunk series set in a country called Emestrius, which uses a combination of steam technology, gear technology and of course alchemy. There is also a longer Full Metal Alchemist series but the story line in Brotherhood is much closer to the original manga and(at least in my opinion) more interesting. If you love steampunk because of the opportunities it presents for political intrigue, Brotherhood is one series you’ll adore.

Seven Samurai is a lesser known example of steampunk anime which takes the classic film Seven Samurai, adds magic and robots(it makes more sense than you might imagine) and transforms it into an awesome anime. It’s also the only anime on this list where the main characters are all adults, or at least all adult-ish, which brings me to another interesting point about anime:

Anime is not afraid to throw children into harsh situations. In fact, a lot of anime created for adults around adult themes still feature protagonists who are in high school or even younger. In some ways this is really awesome. I think stories about/for young people in our culture could use a lot more diversity, and creepy children… Well they’re the best at being creepy. On the other hand, I’d love to find more anime that centers around actual adults.

Of course, the Japanese aren’t the only ones who’ve created steampunk animation. Just last week a French animated film called April and the Extraordinary World was officially released in the US(I actually can’t wait to see this movie, check out the trailer to find out why). There have also been a handful of animated steampunk movies created by American studios such as Atlantis – The Lost Empire.

Over the next few months I plan to take a journey through the land of steampunk animation, reviewing animated steampunk series and movies I discover along the way. Most of it will be anime(I’m a bit of a fanatic) but I’m eager to explore steampunk animation from everywhere else in the world too. I hope you’ll enjoy discovering it with me!

Have you watched any awesome steampunk animation? Are you interested in discovering more? Let me know in the comments section below!