Ōtomo draws a line from the industrial revolution to the tragedy of how such miracles of engineering would pave the way for the wars & devastation dominating the 20th century. In doing so, he turns this beautifully crafted steampunk adventure story into an oblique anti-war commentary; where the protagonist has to protect his grandfather's inventions from the corrupt & capitalist warlords trying to use them for evil.
The big problem with this movie and the one thing that kills it in the end is its length. The story this film is trying to tell could have ended about an hour earlier before. This film was a colossal failure in Japan and I think my point about it is why it was such a bomb. I don't think Otomo will ever recapture the magic of Akira, but I'll cut him some slack because Akira is THAT good.
I'm honestly surprised so many people didn't like this movie. I just watched it and it was incredible! I loved the story, the characters, and was (of course) blown away by the visuals. This film creates such a tangible world that I didn't want to leave it. Here is one of the few times where I actually want to see a sequel get made. But only if Otomo gets to do it!
i actually really liked this movie a lot. it wasn't what i expected, and it took a few watches for me to be as into as i am, but it's worth watching for sure. there are still few animated movies that look this good. from what i understand, it was plagued more by cost and production length, but i'm an Otomo fan; but i don't just like this because it's Otomo, it's just something else of his that i enjoy.