There’s an entire subgenre of Cyberpunk called steampunk, which fetishes steam and coal-based technology (most often set during the Victorian era). The ethos of the Victorian era was mastery over nature by sheer will and brute application of technology, and steampunk takes the signature technology of that era (namely, coal-fired steam engines) and extrapolates them to – frankly – absurd degree. H.G. wells is probably the literary forefather of the genre, but tit was really William Gibson and Bruce Sterling’s novel The Difference Engine that really established it. That was a great book, and I think set the general optimistic tone that is now common to steampunk (as opposed to the grim dystopian tone of most cyberpunk).
At any rate, Steamboy is pretty much tailored to the genre. I’m sure there are other examples of steampunk anime out there but I have limited awareness. I heard about Steamboy from AICN and decided to give it a shot.
In a nutshell, Ray is a prodigy child in Manchester, UK who has an innate knowledge of steam technology. His grandfather and father are working in Alaska and come across a new power source that immediately draws the attention of the great powers (US and UK). The new source, called a steamball, is sent to Ray to keep it out of the wrong hands but powerful grups convereg on and chase Ray trying to gain the technology for themselves.
I’m only about 1/4 way through the story but will update the post as I complete it. In the meantime, please chime in (no spoilers yet, please) with your thoughts on Steamboy if you’ve already seen it.