Astro Boy: the Japanese Anime Classic You Shouldn’t Miss

  • Originally created and written by Tezuka Osamu from 1952-1968, Tetsuwan Atomu (Mighty Atom) popularly known as Astro Boy, was adapted into anime television series and was first broadcasted by Fuji Television for 30 minutes on New Year’s Day of 1963. As the show started to have a surprisingly huge following, this marked a new era of the anime industry Japan.

    The Early Struggles

    Because of the franchise fees paid for Tetsuwan Atomu, production costs needed to be cut. Drawings were cut as well as the number of lines in each image to the bare minimum. Still images were mostly dominant at that time. Storylines were faster and simulation movements, sound effects, and dialogues had to be improvised. In this way, the company would be able to offset its losses. Additionally, licensing rights for the character of Mighty Atom to their sponsor Meiji (a popular brand of chocolate in Japan) was another way to cut the losses in addition to Tezuka Ozamu’s investments coming from his own manga publishing.

    The Creation of Astro Boy

    Set in a futuristic world where robots co-exist with humans, Astro Boy was created by the head of Ministry of Science Dr. Tenma or Dr. Astor Boyton II in the 1960s English version. As Dr. Tenma’s son Tobio or Toby died in a car crash, he built Astro Boy and treated the robot as if it was his own. However, Dr. Tenma eventually realized that Astro Boy cannot fill the void left by his son Tobio since Astro could not grow older or express human emotions, thus he discards him.

    Later on, Professor Ochanomizu notices that Astro was performing in a circus which gave him the idea to ask Hamegg (the circus’ owner) to return Astro to his care. He then becomes Astro’s legal guardian, treating the robot with warmth and kindness. As the story continues, Professor Ochanomizu realizes that Astro has superior powers and skills with the ability also to experience human emotions.

    The Battle against Evil

    Upon the realization of his super powers, Astro soon begins to fight evil crimes and bring justice to the people. His seven powers include 100K horsepower strength, jet flight, beaming laser lights emanating from his eyes, bionic hearing, instant language translation, a retractable machine gun built on his hips, and a superior IQ level that is capable of determining whether a person is good or bad. Throughout Astro’s adventure, most of his enemies were robot-hating humans, robots gone wild or alien invaders.

    He continued to battle these villains until 1966 in the animated version and 1968 in the manga version. However, the series was remade in 1980 and again in 2003. There was also a CGI movie was released in 2009, showing that Astro Boy remains an important figure.

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