A Pioneer in anime.
What They Say
In a future where science fiction is reality, Dr. Boynton creates a super-robot in his deceased son's image. Named Astro Boy, the robot can swim oceans, leap over mountains and even fly into space - but he can't replace the doctor's son. Abandoned and disowned, soon Astro Boy is befriended by Dr. Packadermus J. Elefun of the Institute of Science, and together, they embark upon an amazing adventure. With super strength, rocket-powered flight, a selfless heart and a kind demeanor, Astro Boy fights a never-ending crusade against the forces of evil!
For many Americans, Astro Boy was our introduction to Anime even though we would not become familiar with that term for many more years. The series premiered in Japan in 1963 where it was known as Tetsuwan Atomu, i.e, “Mighty Atom”. However it was for American Television that the show was changed to Astro Boy, when it premiered on NBC in 1963. The Japanese series had 193 total episodes, 104 of which were eventually adapted into the English version. The first 26 of those episodes are collected here in this new release from Right Stuff.
Watching these for the first time, its amazing just how much more mature this series was compared to American cartoon series of the same era. The opening episode, “The Birth of Astro Boy” deals with themes you simply didn’t see in cartoons in the U.S., including death and child…er…robot neglect. When his son Astor is killed in a car accident, the brilliant but completely unstable Dr. Boynton, Director of the Institute of Science, builds a robot that looks exactly like his late son.
At first the Doctor is delighted with his creation. Astro Boy’s slowly rising off the laboratory table and the electricity striking around him eerily mimics the Frankenstein monster coming to life. But soon Boynton grows disenchanted once he realizes that Astro is never going to be anything more than a young boy in a robot form. He abandons Astro, selling him to the cruel owner of a circus where he fights in a gladiatorial-like arena against other robots. He’s eventually rescued by Dr. Elefun, the new Director of the Institute of Science. Now all this happens in the very first episode so you can see that this is a far cry from the funny animal toons that pervaded American TV in the 1960s.
As the series moved on, Astro Boy would develop, or perhaps discover is a better word, more and more of his incredible powers and battle against a variety of monsters, robots, evil scientists, and alien threats to help protect the Earth. But Astro Boy didn’t just protect the Earth. In “Expedition to Mars” Astro is chosen to command a mission to Mars. Once there, Astro has to defend the planet from an alien invasion.
In “Cross Island” the evil Dr. Sinister escapes prison and kidnaps Dr. Elefun to Cross Island where he forces Astro to give up some his power so Sinister can power his own robot creation. In “Gangor” Astro must battle a giant centipede robot which is destroying ocean liners.
“The Haunted Ship is one of the more interesting episodes on this set. Astro Boy wishes that he had a heart so that he could experience true human emotions. Dr. Elefun makes Astro an experimental heart but it ends up not being exactly what Astro was counting on. Now he is experiencing human fears! Very interesting…as sort of Oz-like Tin Man take but in this case, Astro is sorry he ever got a heart! One other episode to note is “The Strange Birthday Present” in which Dr. Elefun creates a little sister for Astro, Astro Girl!
The video has been re-mastered and is surprisingly clean and clear with little in the way of defects. The audio isn’t quite as good as the sound modulates up and down throughout the set. The variance isn’t huge, but it’s enough that you can notice it. Still considering this is going on fifty years old the quality is really quite good. The animation isn’t real fluid early on but you can see improvements over the course of the series. This is a great early Anime gem and its here to be discovered once again!
English 2.0 Language