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STEAMBOY

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Katsuhiro Otomo (Akira) directs this English-language anime set in Victorian London at the time of the Great Exhibition in 1851. A bright young lad named Ray (voice of Anna Paquin) intervenes in a struggle between his father and grandfather, inventors who are harnessing steam for practical use, chiefly in the form of a gigantic militaristic "steam castle" to be unveiled at the exhibition. The family dispute boils over into madness and criminal activity, endangering Ray at every turn and culminating in a near-apocalyptic battle above the streets of London. The setting is unusual for anime, though the story, despite its novel trappings, is fairly rote. The real star is the steam castle -- a fantastic creation, awesome in scope and design. Its ultimate realization may strain credulity, but you can't help rooting for the retro-futurist imagination that spawned this machine that, like other war-based technologies, is both savior and villain. The 7:30 p.m. Mon., April 11, screening will be followed by an audience discussion led by Instructors from the media arts and animation program at the Art Institute of Pittsburgh. Oaks

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