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Anime Profile: Astro Boy

Fields
USA Info
Japanese Info
Image
Title
Astro Boy Tetsuwan Atom(鉄腕アトム) Astro Boy
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Astroboy(common misspelling)  
Released
104 TV episodes 104 TV episodes
Dates
1963–1964 1963–1966
Company
NBC Mushi Prod./Screen Gems/Video Promotions
Creator
  Osameu Tezuka
Director
   
Genre
Action, Mecha Action, Mecha
Related
Astro Boy(1980 color remake) Tetsuwan Atom(1980 color remake)
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Astro Boy(2003 remake) Tetsuwan Atom(2003 remake)
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Astro Boy(2009 movie) ATOM(2009 movie)
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-- View Episode List -- -- View Episode List --
Characters
-- listed below -- -- listed below --

Last I checked, this anime was available on VHS at Amazon.

Anime Characters: Astro Boy

English Name
Japanese Name
English Name
Japanese Name
Alvin --?-- Nikki Nikki
Astro Boy Tetsuwan Atom Skunk --?--
Astro Girl Uran Theodore --?--
Atlas --?-- Astor Boynton III Tobio Tenma
Daddy Walrus Mr. Pompus Dr. Boynton Dr. Nagamiya Tenma
Dr. Packadermus J. Elefun Dr. Ochanomizu Mother & Father --?--
Jump --?-- Ringmaster Hamegg --?--
Livian --?--    

Anime Description: Astro Boy

Astroboy was called Tetsuwan Atom in Japan. The black and white series was created, animated and produced by Osamu Tezuka (1928-1989) through his own company named Mushi Productions. Tezuka, like his father, was a qualified doctor of medicine but was more interested in drawing. Astroboy was a successful comic strip in Japan in the 1950's. It was released in Japan between 1963 and 1966 and was shown on Melbourne TV in April 1966 at 5:30pm Sunday's on channel 0. The tv week described it as "Cartoon adventure series about a youngster in the 21st century." It was the first animated TV series to be produced in Japan, and after becoming a worldwide hit, Japanese cartoons began to flood the market with the release of other successful series' such as Gigantor, 8th man and Prince Planet. The large oval eyes became the standard for most other Japanese cartoons. A total of 193 episodes were produced, but only 104 of them were redubbed and shown on TV outside Japan.

The voice of Astroboy and Astrogirl was Billie Lou Watt (who was female, not male as many people believe). She later went on to be Kimba and Jimmy Sparks from Gigantor. The voice of Dr Elefun was Cliff Owen who also played Inspector Blooper from Gigantor and Dan'l Baboon from Kimba. Gilbert Mack was the voice of Mr. Pompus as well as Dick Strong from Gigantor and Pauley Cracker from Kimba.

Peter Fernandez wrote more than half of the English scripts and many others were written by the voice cast members. Peter was paid $100 to $125 per episode- the same fee that he was later paid by Fred Ladd for Gigantor. Fred Ladd directed the English version and wrote some of the scripts. Ladd said that "Astro Boy began with Mushi's #1, and generally stayed in Mushi's sequence, but we had to reject 6 of their shows, for various reasons: one dealt with vivisection (unacceptable here as kids' content at the time); one dealt with a bachelor who had pictures of nude women hanging on his walls; one (Christ's Eyeballs) dealt with a criminal hiding out in a church and scratching a secret message to his cohorts on the eyeballs of a statuette of Christ, (in Buddhist Japan, nobody at the studio objected)."

In 1982 a colored version was released and shown in Melbourne throughout the 1980's. In 1996 it was shown here on cable TV. Many of these episodes are available on video in Pal format through Siren Entertainment and are still enjoyed by young children today.

The series begins in the year 2000 with the death of Dr Boynton's (a robotics engineer) son Astor (Toby in the first remake) in a car accident (help with some character names from Dave Sternberg). He makes a robot in his son's image, but disappointed that he's not a real boy he disowns him, and he is sold to a robot circus and here is named Astroboy. The ringmaster Cachatore (Hamegg in the new series) treats him cruelly, but he is later rescued by Dr. Elefun (large nose and two puffs of hair on the sides of his head) who is against slavery of robots. Under his guidance, Astroboy embarks on adventures, fighting anything that threatens mankind. Astroboy can fly using jet rocket propulsion; has weapons including a lazer and machine gun, and has emotions. Astroboy, like most of the other robots, lives by the robot law that orders robots to help mankind by doing what's good.

Other characters in the series included Mr. Pompus who was a friend of Dr. Elefun's (renamed Daddy Walrus in the colored series because of his long moustache), Astrogirl (named Uran in the color series) made by Dr. Elefun as Astroboy sister. Astroboy bigger brother was named Jetto. He was stored away in the warehouse of the Science Academy and was created by Dr. Boynton as a prototype of Astroboy. One of Astroboy's main enemies is Atlas who was a boy robot but was rebuilt into a highly intelligent and powerful robot. Daddy Walrus is sometimes a secret agent and in some episodes is also Judo Expert (as this fact is demonstrated in the Blackie Young episode). He retains the boastful loudmouth qualities of Mr. Pompus but actually is portayed in the new series as a courageous individual as opposed to a cowardly braggard in the older Astroboy series. The Dr. Elefun character in the New Astroboy is a somewhat less of a scholar and actually more of a foolish "Absent Minded professor", rather than the learned man that we see heading up "The Institute of Science". (Info on Daddy Walrus from Dave Sternberg)

Some of the episodes include "Funnel To The Future" where Astroboy, Astrogirl and Dr. Elefun are sent 70,000 years into the future; "Mystery Of The Metal Men" where Astroboy is blown away into a parallel world, and "Gangor The Monster" where 46 wrestling robots join together to form a giant centipede. The lost episode, titled "The Beast from 20 Fathoms", was created in 1963, and only two copies were made. The Japanese version was destroyed as Osamu Tezuka was unhappy with it. The other copy was sent to America for dubbing and is the only version that exists today.

The following information is written by Mark Cannon from Canberra Australia who has picked up some interesting points after watching Astroboy episodes again after nearly 30 years.

Amazing the detail you aren't aware of as a kid; for example, though I saw "Funnel To The Future" several times in my youth, it was only this time that I recognised the similarlities to HG Wells' "The Time Machine"; mankind vanished, a huge museum / mausoleum to man, two divergent, diametrically opposed races in the plant people and the animal people (echoing the Eloi and the Morlocks) and, closest of all Astro Boy befrinding a plant person by pulling her from the river, in which she was drowning while her fellows looked on apathetically - just as Wells' Time Traveller rescued Weena the Eloi in identical circumstances. Very cleverly done.

In "Invasion Of The Metal Men", I had forgotten that it utilised the concept of parallel universes; a complicated concept for children to grasp (and we didn't have "Sliders" to demonstrate it every week!) but it explained the concept in a wonderfully simple way by comparing it to "Two sides of a single sheet of paper".

In the episode "Mission to the Middle of the World", Astroboy, Astrogirl and the journalist travelling with them come across an underground race, descended survivors of Atlantis, who appear to call themselves "deros". This got my memory working, and I did a little research. Back in the mid-1940s, "Amazing Stories", the pulp SF magazine (the very first, dating form 1926, and about to be revived after a few years of non-publication) published a lot of stories by a guy called Richard S Shaver. They weren't very well written, but they got a lot of attention - and generated a lot of controversy in the SF community - because Shaver claimed that they were all based on truth! He claimed that degenerate races, living inside the earth, and called "deros" were controlling the direction of mankind on the surface. These races were using technology left behind by ancient races like the "Atlans". As I said Shaver claimed that all of this was true! He seems to have genuinely believed it, and today would proabably be writing UFO cult-type books (and probably making a fortune in the process!). Although his stuff boosted the sales of Amazing Stories for a while (Although Shaver was a real person, many theorised that most of the stories were actually written by Amazing's editor, Raymond Palmer), the fans decried it as being hogwash, and it lead to great controversy. Eventually publication of this "Shaver Mystery" material, as it came to be known, was dropped, and the whole matter became a footnote in the history of science fiction. Until, of course, I saw this episode, with its reference to subterranean "deros". It seems hard to believe that it was a cooincidence; perhaps one of the people writing the English language scripts had read Shaver material as a youth, and decided to put the reference in as an in-joke? We'll never know, but I thought it an interesting little quirk.

I also took a quick look at the live action Astroboy film. Well! Could this actually be the Japanese equivalent of "Plan 9 From Outer Space"? Perhaps somewhere in Japan, there's a former child actor who looks back on this movie as the crowning achievement of his career. Mind you, that outfit he had to wear surely qualifies as some sort of child abuse! And what about those villains with the top hats and big "Z"s on their front?! Amazing - truely amazing! I wonder what poor old Tezuka thought of it?

Thanks Mark.

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