Astro Boy, also known as Mighty Atom in Japan, is a manga series created and illustrated by Osamu Tezuka.
Tezuka, known as the “Father of Manga” is known for such notable works like “Kimba the White Lion” and “Princess Knight”. His work and contribution to the art of Manga and Anime has led many to compare him to Walt Disney, whom he revered.
The story of Astro Boy is about an android created by the head of the Ministry of Science, Dr. Tenma. He made Astro Boy as a replacement for his son, Tobio, who had perished in an accident. This was during a time that humans and robots coexisted. Dr Tenma would later on turn against Astro Boy when he realizes that he cannot truly replace his son. He ends up selling Astro Boy to a circus.
Later, Dr. Ochanomizu, a friend and successor to Dr. Tenma as head of the Ministry of Science, would rescue and adopt Astro Boy and treat him as his own son. Dr. Ochanomizu also made a robotic sister for Astro Boy named Uran. During this time, Astro Boy learns to use his power to fight against crime and injustice.
But more than just crime fighting, this story is also about relationships and a desire to belong.
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It has been a very long time since I watched Astro Boy, the 1980s version. There is also a 2003 TV version and a 2009 film. I have not viewed either.
Astro Boy reminds me a lot of Pinocchio. Both are not real boys, and both intended to stand in for the real one. In both stories, both adult characters wish for a son. Geppetto probably because of loneliness, Dr. Tenma because he had lost his son in an accident. But Pinocchio was no crime fighter. I enjoyed Astro Boy more than Pinocchio because Astro Boy had powers that he used to fight crime and injustice.
I credit this, along with another show featuring a robot, Gigantor, with helping kindle my imagination and interest in science and technology.
Today, autonomous robots are even closer to becoming a reality, but still along way off to being like Astro Boy.
Astro Boy is one of the first, if not the first, anime to become a big hit in the US. A good deal of Anime that follow can trace their style to Astro Boy. The original looks dated, which is to be expected, and there might be many references in that version that the current generation of viewers will be unfamiliar with. But the story behind Astro Boy is consistent throughout its different iteration, and anybody watching the show will find it enjoyable.
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