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Anime has exploded in popularity in recent years. Once known as Japanimation, this style of animation has some very distinct characteristics that set it apart from cartoons made by the rest of the world. In this geektoons, we are going to talk about the show that originated some of these characteristics. The show is Astro Boy.
Like so much anime,Astro Boy began life as a manga. The manga was created in 1952 by Osamu Tezuka, who has been called the god of manga. The anime premiered on New year's day 1962. The story is about a robot biy, who was created by a man who had lost his son in an accident. The man was at first happy, then became despondent about the fact that Astro Boy could not grow as a human child would. The robot was sold to a circus. After saving the circus owner in a fire the robot was given his freedom. Astro Boy was taken under the wing of Dr.Elefun, and uses his abilities to help the earth.
Astro Boy has rockets that allow him to fly. He has super hearing. He has super endurance. He has 100,000 horse power. And he has a machine gun in his rear end. He also has a robot family to care for him and keep him company. Astro Boy travels to the moon, fights monsters and evil scientists, and helps other robots. Stylistically the show is interesting because it does develop much of the look that modern anime is known for. It also appears to borrow quite heavily from Hanna Barbera cartoons of the period, giving it at times an old fashioned American look.
The show was quite popular in Japan, and eventually most of the episodes were dubbed and brought to America. They were syndicated here from 1963 through 1965. The show was popular enough that it was remade in 1980. This version was darker and focused more on Astro Boy's robot abilities. The year was pushed back from 2000 to 2030. This version of the show got two English dubs, but was not shown much on American television.
In 2003 another version of the show was made. This time the story is placed in the year 2043. This version mixed the light heartedness of the original with he darker tone of the 1980 version. It also had a storyline that carried through the whole show, something the other two versions did not do. There was a short film made based on this version, but it was never dubbed in English. Finally thee was the film version made in 2009 with leading Hollywood stars doing the voices.
The show is responsible for originating some of the look of anime. It was one of the first popular animes both in Japan and in the west. It was also one of the first robot animes, and we all know how important robots became to anime in later years. So, if you are an anime fan you owe thanks to Astro Boy.