It’s surprising, but steampunk cartoons are few and far between. There’s a fair amount of anime that features gears, pistons, and monocles, but hardly any Western animation.
Too bad for fans of the genre, but what does exist is, at least, pretty good. I’ve compiled a list of some of the best animated steampunk in both anime and the West. Did I miss your favorite? Comment and tell us about it!
The Legend of Korra
Available on: Amazon Prime Video
This sequel series to Avatar: The Last Airbender takes place about 70 years after Aang’s adventures. The protagonist is Korra, the new incarnation of the Avatar. She has the ability to control all four elements (earth, air, water, and fire) in a world where most people can only control one.
Korra’s ready to take on her spiritual duty defending the world against supernatural threats, and she has plenty of adventures along those lines. What’s more interesting about the show, though, is how it frames Korra as a relic in a rapidly advancing world. She’s becoming redundant in the face of steam-powered technology and modern conventions of government, law, and society.
The world of The Legend of Korra is reminiscent of the Meiji Restoration in Japan. Emperor Meiji, intent on protecting Japan’s place in a changing world, pushed the country towards industrialization as fast as it could manage. Old societal roles such as the samurai and Shogun were all but eliminated, leaving much of the populace feeling lost and confused.