Series Recommendation: Steam Detective

A city shrouded in white smoke…
A detective and his assistant work tirelessly to protect it.

Steam Detective is an anime adapted from the manga with the same name. The series, like Big O, is heavily inspired by Western media as well as the steampunk aesthetic. A very interesting series that features a small city, with a young detective with his assistant and his mecha to solve crimes and protecting the people. Sometimes, a large-scale battles can be taxing and confusing, and if you’re looking for a light-hearted drama to unwind, then Steam Detective is the perfect series for you.

The story takes place in a city where the only resource is coal – so there are steam everywhere and everything uses steam power. The city name is aptly named Steam City – and it is filled with crimes that threaten the welfare of the people. Narutaki is an absurdly young Detective working at his own agency in the city – along with Ling Ling, his assistant, and Kawakubo, his butler. Narutaki solves cases and helps the police in thwarting these criminals’ plan. But sometimes they bring out Megamatons – robots powered by steam that is far too powerful for a human. That’s when Narutaki summon Goriki – his own Megamaton. This is the story of a brave young man who risk his life to protect his beloved city.

+ Plot: Steam Detective is a mix between Batman, Sherlock Holmes and the steampunk style. The series mostly follow an episodic nature, with a large overarching plot at the end. Narutaki has to face a repeated line-up of “supervillain”: the beautiful enchantress Crimson Scorpion, the wacky Machine Baron, the genius Dr. Guilty, the gallant thief Le Bled, and the malicious Knight Phantom. The format of the episodes are varied but mostly consist of Narutaki using his skills to deduce the plan of the criminal at the start of the episode. Even though the list of criminal is short, there are enough unique “masterplans” to make the series interesting. Furthermore, the relationship between Narutaki and Ling Ling is also a side comedic plot to watch, and it is quite entertaining. Furthermore, even though it is episodic, there are quite a few episodes that tie in to each other, creating an “arc” for each respective villain, which is very similar to Might Gaine.

+ Animation: The animation is fully 2D and for the most part quite well-done. There are no complicated combat scenes and the design of the Megamatons make it quite easy to animate the fight scenes. They mostly use external gimmick or just straight up charge each other, so the fight scenes are simple and concise. What’s great is the steam and explosion effects – which are obviously the focus of most of the series. The characters are also well animated, largely because their clothing are pretty much straight from a western detective series and is pretty easy to draw. Overall, nothing to complain about.

+ Mecha Design: The Megamatons in Steam Detective take after the more classic style design from Tetsujin, Mazinger and Tetsuwan Atom with more simple mechanical looking unit than flair. Goriki – the main Megamaton – is basically the original Tetsujin-28 with more chest and less of a belly (an in black). Other Megamatons have variation in their design but mostly comprised of simple geometric shapes such as spheres, pipes and trapezoidal cubes. The design is quite simple, but there are “hidden” gimmicks that spice up the mech itself.

Music: One of the strong points of the series. The OP is your 90s J-Rock mixed with some City Pop and it is very rejuvenating. The ending is quite melancholic and tranquil. The best parts are the insert songs that are played throughout the episodes. The variety of tracks played during the scenes is quite nice. We get some fast and hype songs as well as slow instrumental ballad that really fit the atmosphere of the scenes. Elika did a very nice job performing for the songs.

+ Conclusion: Steam Detective is quite a light-hearted and straightforward anime. It’s like a steampunk Sherlock Holmes with robots in it. The characters are likeable and interesting, the music is very good. Although the action and mecha design is quite simplistic, it still get across the intensity of the fight during certain moments. The main focus point of the series is definitely not the robot action but rather the case-solving and the evolution of the characters. There are many ups and downs during the series and if you’re looking for a decently long series to relax to and have some fun, then Steam Detective is a great choice.

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