Good morning, world! Today I should be looking at the Studio Ghibli museum, among other things. What better place to start for the examination of Steampunk in other cultures? With any luck I’ll have pictures to supplement this post, since I’m actually fourteen hours ahead. But for now, we’ll rely on the powers of the web.
Today I’d like to talk about Steampunk multiculturalism. And I don’t mean the concepts behind things like Last Exile, wherein Japan is suddenly an annex of the Victorian Great Britain in style and flavor. I am talking about the wonders of the Steampunk concept–steam-driven (or kinetic energy driven) advanced technology in an era that would not have been advanced to that point. Frankly, I’m also fond of Renaissance Steam because it was so close to reality.
The art of James Ng is a great starting point, since he has illustrated a lot of familiar concepts, if you also play video games. Considering the Japanese preoccupation with robots, I have a great appreciation for Ng’s maintenance of the culture throughout his more clockwork art.Miyazaki is notorious for putting his characters in a more British setting, but Spirited Away–though more whimsical in nature–has a culturally traditional feel in comparison to some of his other works.
Speaking of Japanese Steampunk, I just discovered a band called Strange Artifact. Their first album released digitally on April 11 of this year. They certainly dress more like the British Steampunk, but their music is interesting. I’ll be looking into bringing them to AnomalyCon.
In my role as event organizer and convention director, I see hundreds (if not thousands) of variants on similar costume concepts, but not very many who specifically “deviate” by utilizing Unvictorian cultural influences. We did have a Steampunk-style Samurai at AnomalyCon 2012, and one woman dressed in a beautiful Kimono with Steampunk influences in 2011. But we’d love to see an entirely new vein of the movement. Take this as a challenge.
A few resources for someone who might want to try their hand:
Multiculturalism for Steampunk
Beyond Victoriana (A treat because it has some good articles crossing over gender lines etc)