Fanart Friday returns, . Last week, we wrapped up June's "shipping" theme with bickering couples that just need to get a room already, but this week we're back to covering entire genres in one installment. This week, we're donning our goggles, button-up shirts, and shoulder-slung bags for a look at the STEAMPUNK genre!
It was either this (which is awesome) or "Just Glue Some Gears on It (and Call it Steampunk)"
Now, "steampunk" is kind of a broad genre, falling somewhere between magitech/magitek, clockpunk and dieselpunk, which we'll also be covering in this installment alongside other companion genres like "whalepunk." Yeah, that's really a thing--thanks, Dishonored! Also, no cyberpunk--that's next week! Now let's get started!
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"But Nate," you immediately say as you rush to the comments after just barely starting the article, "Samurai 7 is totally sci-fi! Spaceships and mecha and--" and then I come in and say "STEAM-POWERED MECHA! Kikuchiyo, who was played by Toshiro Mifune in the original film, is a gigantic and derpy steam-powered mechanical man! He even has an exhaust port!" and you guys go "OHHHHHHHHHH. You're right!"
As such a technology-based character, Batman is one of the few characters who would be interesting with a major genre shift from superhero sci-fi to superhero steampunk. Oh wait--he has (sorta)! And Gotham by Gaslight is awesome!
Fullmetal Alchemist is a nice mixture of several of the above-mentioned genres--it has steampunk style, but dieselpunk mechanical design and occasional clockpunk tech. No whalepunk, as far as I can tell.
While you can just slap some buckles, studs, and laces on an outfit and call it steampunk, I notice that there's a lot more intricacy of design going on. Take this Sailor Moon pic, for instance--Usagi and Chibi-Usa's outfits are pretty similar to their original designs, but the linework on them, Usagi's dress especially, is much more detailed.
No way in hell am I gonna leave out Steam Detectives. Two detectives in a Victorian, heavily-industrialized city with a gigantic steam-powered mech (and Kia Asamiya's gorgeous artwork)? Of course I'd include this one!
I've already mentioned Gotham by Gaslight, and Marvel kinda goes in the same direction with 1602, but it's refreshing to see--of all things--Nintendo steampunk! From the left to the right, we have Daisy, Rosalina, Link, the manliest Luigi I've ever seen, and Peach!
You want classic anime steampunk? Look no further than Nadia: Secret of the Blue Water! Steam-powered technology, sky captains of yesteryear (with their words and clothes and shitty airplanes, etc.), mysterious brown people with magical powers (okay, that last part is kinda f**ked up)... yeah, it's good stuff.
Attack on Titan is pretty blatantly "dark fantasy," but the 3D Maneuvering Gear is pretty damn steampunk all on its own. Just to make things clear, I am never, ever going to try anything like 3D Maneuvering Gear, I'm too afraid of heights. You'd have an unbroken stream of terror poo crisscrossing every rooftop in the area.
While the actual adventure of Kino's Journey is just a melancholy story of the road, some of the cities she stops off in are definitely steampunk in terms of design. I really enjoyed this series, but it's just not fun enough for multiple viewings--I should get over that soon and give it another watch.
Every Final Fantasy game has steampunk elements, from airships to appropriately-anachronistic technology combinations. Final Fantasy IX is one of the best titles that keep this style, but there's one that really tops it--I'll get to that later.
Laputa--otherwise known as Castle in the Sky--is part of the Miyazaki highlight reel, featuring an environmental message, plucky young heroes, and some really kickass steampunk-influenced machinery, including a robot who's shown up on Fanart Friday several times (and once as Bender Bending Rodriguez).
Dishonored was one of my favorite games of last year, combining a dark Victorian atmosphere with quasi-steampunk technology powered by "whale oil." Y'see, in Dishonored, whales are these massive, eldritch creatures out of Lovecraftian horror, and have a strange connection to "the other side." So, not only does their blubber power all the technological wonders of the city of Dunwall, but their spirits (?) also power all the city's supernatural goings-on.
Final Fantasy VI is easily the most purely "steampunk" of all the Final Fantasy games. No joke, look at towns like Narshe, everything Imperial ever, and Magitek armor, and you'll see what I mean.
I haven't watched Last Exile yet--I know, I know, people have been saying I should for years now--but every screenshot I see is of that "classic adventure" feel, with some very genre-appropriate technology.
The (very talented) creator of this piece says what I always think--that you can just slap some belts and gears on anything and it becomes steampunk. So, what are the odds of Sonic appearing in the upcoming Smash for Wii U and 3DS? I'd say he's a lock, and the folks who aren't returning are Lucario, Snake, and Lucas.
Yeah, I'm still hopelessly addicted to Project X Zone, but it's been nice seeing Ichiro and Sakura from Sakura Wars... even if they kinda suck compared to other teams I have (why hello, Namco X Capcom guys). I was a little sad that Ichiro and Sakura's special move didn't involve their steam-powered oobu mecha.
Every time I rounded a corner in Rapture, I'd stop and listen for these hulking monstrosities, and jumped out of my skin the one time I didn't, and came face-to-face with a Big Daddy. Bioshock had a beautiful art-deco design sense, but the clanking vending machines, the overall feel of Rapture... totally steampunk.
A reader suggested Grandia last week, but thinking hard on this, I think Skies of Arcadia fits the bill better. I mean, just look at Vyse and his old man!
Columbia, Bioshock Infinite's city in the sky, is connected by a series of airborne railways. In some ways, even without all the blatantly "steampunk" technologies, Infinite feels even more at home in the genre than its predecessor. Plus, you get chased around by Songbird, who is like Steampunk Hulk with a bird motif.
Okay, so... Howl's Moving Castle. I notice in Miyazaki's films, he's able to pull off steampunk(ish) technology without slavishly adhering to genre tradition.
Wasn't Amnesia: The Dark Descent damn good fun? A dark castle filled with awful things that can tear you apart in a heartbeat, obviously-steampunk machinery and puzzles and traps, and friends losing their shit--all good stuff. I love you, Amnesia.
And that's all for this week! Of course, there's no way I could have included everything (like, I dunno, STEAMBOY), so what are your favorite steampunk (and steampunk-inspired) series? Sound off in the comments!
Of course, your work is always welcome here on Fanart Friday, regardless of your skill level or experience. Want to have your work shown off? Just PM me a link to your art, and I'll make sure to include it in a future installment! Because it sometimes takes longer than a week to get great art done, here are the next four Fanart Friday themes:
-Next week, on JULY 12th, we'll be exploring the wild frontier with a trip through the WESTERN theme! Remember that not all Westerns take place on the American frontier--the themes and style of the Western go far beyond simple geography. THIS IS THE ONLY THEME I'LL BE TAKING REQUESTS FOR THIS WEEK!
-On JULY 19th, we're jacking in and raging against the machine with a look at the CYBERPUNK genre! From Hollywood favorites like Blade Runner and The Matrix, to anime legends like Akira and Battle Angel Alita, cyberpunk is a beloved staple.
-On JULY 26th, we're getting grimey and gritty with the NOIR genre! While fully-titled "film noir," this style of storytelling and visual language shows up in everything from hard-boiled crime stories to far-future sci-fi.
-On AUGUST 2nd, we check out a staple of the previous week's "noir" genre with a look at our favorite DETECTIVES! Which super sleuths will make the cut?
Thanks again for coming and checking out Fanart Friday. We hope all of you had a safe and happy 4th of July--or Canada Day, but seriously, what could go wrong on Canada Day? We're dumb enough to play with explosives. Those of you at Anime Expo, be sure to drop by the Crunchyroll booth and say hey to everybody there! Have a great weekend, and we hope to see you next time!