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Astro Boy: 1980s Series & New Movie Preview
Astro Boy was created by Osamu Tezuka in 1951, originally as "Tetsuwan Atom". Tezuka's impact with anime in Japan can be liked to Walt Disney's in the western world. Astroboy Online states that Tezuka created every single Astro Boy manga comic story for 21 years.
In the 1960s, Astro Boy became the first comic to be animated in Japan. VickeyK's hub Astro Boy: Manga for Boomers is a great source of information on Tezuka and the 1960s series. A second color series was produced in the 1980s (see below) and a third series in 2003 in celebration of the actual year in which the original Astro Boy robot was created in the story.
Osamu Tezuka unfortunately passed away in 1989 but left behind a massive legacy through his timeless creations. His beautiful message below is now added to booklets on DVD releases of his works:
Osamu Tezuka’s message: What I try to appeal through my works is simple. The opinion is just a simple message that follows: "Love all the creatures! Love everything that has life"! I have been trying to express this message in every one of my works.
Astroboy 1980's Color Series
I grew up watching the second color series of "Astroboy" (one word) in the 1980s. It still is one of my favorite shows of all time. I recently purchased this Madman Entertainment DVD box set release of 52 episodes and watched them all again for the first time in decades.
One of the things that set this anime series apart from the rest was the "heart" that this show had. Even though Astroboy was a robot and didn't have human feelings per se, he showed a strong sence of morality and justice that echoed Tezuka's message. As a kid, this show had a lot of good messages for children.
For example, in the episode "Robot Land" we are introduced to the concept of slavery. In this place, robots bring back to life all of the fairytales everybody ever loved. However the island is actually a cover for a secret weapons factory. The robots who worked in Robot Land are being mistreated by a an evil ex-Ministry of Science employee. Astro and Dr Elefun of the Ministry investigate and free the robots. Everybody, including robots, deserve basic rights.
In "The Liar Robot" we are taught the story of the robot who "cried wolf" and the importance of telling the truth.
In "The Monster of Clarken", a coral reef is threatened by a greedy gold hunter who wanted to mine for gold. Astro leads all the young fish living there to safety.
"The Genie From Outer Space" was able to transform landscapes, including gravity, of entire planets. His powers were too strong for Astro to stop him by strength alone. Here we are shown how the Genie could be stopped by brains rather than brawn.
"Astro Fights Aliens" sees Astro as the captain of a space ship. The lieutenant on the ship hated the fact that Astro, a robot, was given the rank of captain. He did everything to prove him wrong and sabotage his efforts by giving him a blank energy cassette. Astro warned the lieutant that aliens were going to invade earth but his warning fell on deaf ears. When he was proved right and Astro takes fire to save the lieutenant despite all he did against Astro, the lieutenant returns the favor to save Astro's life when he couldn't go on. He flies a ship into an alien vessel so that the Earth and Astro will be saved. At the end of this episode Astro mourns his crew member and gives him a moving salute. Many people who have seen the 1980s series, which was overseen by Tezuka himself, have expressed the opinion that the new 2003 series is more about the "coolness" of Astro who is more of a boy, lacking the heart and wisdom of the 1980s version. It is definitely worth watching even one episode of this series so you can get a taste of why Astro Boy really is the best anime of all time. New generation cartoons, such as Pokemon, have a similar "look" anime style to Astro Boy but do not even compare.
New 2009 CGI Movie: Astro Boy
There is a new CGI movie of Astro Boy due out in October 2009. Personally, I really hope it delivers, even though Astro looks like a "typical CGI boy" of late, if there is such a thing. However, the flying, the night vision and the tunnelling through the base of a volcano (similar to the opening sequence of the 1980s series) is really well done.
The guys at Imagi Studios have been working on this film for years already. It features Freddie Highmore voicing Astro Boy & Kristen Bell voicing the female lead. I will definitely be watching this one at the movies when it is released.
View the trailer for the new movie here: http://www.astroboy-themovie.com/