Screenplay by Larry Bischof, Todd Felderstein, Dick Grunert, et al., based upon the manga by Osamu Tezuka
Directed by David Hartman
Music by Patrick Griffin
- “Remaking of Astro Boy” featurette
Dindrane’s Anime Warnings:
- Child in serious danger
- Mild cartoon violence
- Poor costuming choices
- Dangerous soccer balls
Released by: Sony
Anamorphic: N/A; episodes appear in their original 1.33:1 format.
My Advice: It’s a classic of the genre: you need to own it
[ad#longpost]Astro Boy is a kind of Japanese Pinocchio: in the year 2030, a master research scientist lost his son and models a cute 100,000 horsepower robot warrior after him, but is disillusioned when he realizes that an android, no matter how cleverly crafted, can never replace his human son. Dr. Boynton then abandons Astro Boy to the “tender mercies” of a circus, from which Astro Boy is finally rescued by Dr. Elefun, an “android’s rights” activist who molds his young charge into an atomic-powered superhero who goes on to fight a host of villains for the sake of humans and robots everywhere. Along the way, Astro Boy travels in time, gets sent to a parallel reality, meets his sister Astro Girl, and fights his nemesis, the evil boy robot Atlas, who needless to say does not use his powers for good and apple pie.
It should be explained that this set contains the 2003 remake, and not the 1960s original with its 104 episodes. Manga purists will note that the action follows that of the manga rather loosely, but maintains the spirit of the show if not all the names.
The show has a number of strengths, including the mixture of characters. Dr. Elefun is as noble and dedicated as you could imagine, but also quite funny, especially as he tries to help Astro Boy find a balance between his gentle heart and his need to use his atomic powers to defend the downtrodden. The overall message of the show of course is that those with power have a responsibility to protect the weak, a message that our selfish times could stand to internalize. Of course, we also see that violence is usually the called-for action in the face of evil.
The audio and video quality is quite good, which is actually a problem for some fans, who prefer the grittier, less slick low-budget original or even the 1980 color remake. The artists of this version duplicate Osamu Tezuka’s original art style, including Dr. Elefun’s giant nose and weird coiffure. It’s also quite interesting that the sound is dubbed in English, Spanish, and Portuguese…but not Japanese.
The deal is outstanding: you get the entire fifty-episode series, including twenty-nine of them that never aired in the United States before. The slimline cases inside the series slipcase make this a fan favorite, as the whole series fits in just a couple inches of space–a real bonus.
Astro Boy may not be everyone’s favorite anime series, but as a classic of the anime genre, it belongs on every otaku’s shelf. Parents will love the ability to babysit their kids with this quality entertainment that they, too, might enjoy, without having to worry about explaining such difficult concepts as sex, but providing some interesting conversation about the nature of identity, parental responsibility, and ethics. Check it out for the sake of anime and animation history, if nothing else.