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Astro Boy

Guest Author - Lesley Aeschliman

The Astro Boy series was created by Osamu Tezuka. It started its life in the 1960s, airing in black and white on Japanese television. These early episodes of the series look nothing like how we envision anime to look like; in fact, the early Astro Boy episodes look more like the Disney cartoons being produced in the 1920s and 1930s.

The original series was set in the year 2000, with the vision of a world where androids and humans co-exist. The title character is an android built by Doctor Tenma, the head of the Ministry of Science (in the English dub, his name was Dr. Boynton). Astro Boy was built to replace his son, who was killed in an accident. At first, the doctor treated Astro Boy as if he were his real son, but over time came to realize that the android could never truly replace his son. In the original 1960s anime, Doctor Tenma sold Astro to a cruel circus owner.

While performing in the circus, Astro is discovered by Professor Ochanomizu (Dr. Packadermus J. Elefun in the English dub), who is the new head of the Ministry of Science. After managing to rescue Astro from the circus and treating him with love and respect, the professor realized that Astro had superior powers and skills, as well as the ability to experience human emotions. Astro Boy then became a crimefighter, and usually fought robot-hating humans, berserk robots, or alien invaders. In all, the 1960s series had 193 episodes produced.

Astro Boy returned in a new incarnation in 1980. This remake series put more emphasis on Astro's robotic skills, and also had a bit more of a "darker" storyline than the original series. It was discovered in this series that Astro has an evil brother named Atlas, who had been created from stolen blueprints by a European arms manufacturer named Count Walpurgis. There were 52 episodes produced of this series, although the English version only had 51 episodes and did not have a proper ending.

In 2003, Astro Boy reappeared in another remake series. This series was created to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the original television series. This version of Astro Boy combined the playfulness of the original anime with the darker and more serious storylines from the 1980s remake series. 50 episodes were produced of this series.

Astro Boy has been highly regarded as one of earliest anime programs. While the original series may not look like the type of show we would now consider anime, this series ultimately helped to open the doors for the anime programs that followed in its footsteps. And the fact that the series was remade not just once, but twice, proves just how important Astro Boy is to anime.


Title
Episodes
Release Year(s)
Director
Studio
N.A. Licensor
Astro Boy1931963-1966Osamu TezukaMushi ProductionsNozomi Entertainment
Astro Boy521980-1981Noboru IshiguroTezuka PoductionsN/A
Astro Boy502003-2004Kazuya KonakaTezuka ProductionsN/A
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Content copyright © 2014 by Lesley Aeschliman. All rights reserved.
This content was written by Lesley Aeschliman. If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission. Contact Brenda Chen for details.

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