Astro Boy (1963 TV series)
Promotional artwork for the United States broadcast of Astro Boy
|Genre||Action, Adventure, Science fiction|
|Anime television series|
|Directed by||Osamu Tezuka|
|Written by||Yoshiyuki Tomino|
|Music by||Tatsuo Takai|
|Network||Fuji TV (1963-1966)|
|Original run||January 1, 1963 – December 31, 1966|
|Mighty Atom, the Brave in Space|
|Produced by||Koji Bessho
|Music by||Tatsuo Takai|
|Released||July 26, 1964|
Astro Boy (鉄腕アトム Tetsuwan Atomu?, "Mighty Atom", lit. "Iron Arm Atom") is a Japanese television series that premiered on Fuji TV on New Year's Day and is the first popular animated Japanese television series that embodied the aesthetic that later became familiar worldwide as anime. It originated as a manga of the same name in 1952 by Osamu Tezuka, revered in Japan as the "God of Manga." After enjoying success both in Japan and abroad as the first anime to be broadcast overseas, Astro Boy was remade in the 1980s under the same name(s), and in 2003 as Astro Boy: Mighty Atom. It lasted for four seasons, with a total of 193 episodes, the final episode presented on New Year's Eve 1966. At its height it was watched by 40% of the Japanese population who had access to a TV. In 1964, there was a feature-length animated movie called Mighty Atom, the Brave in Space (鉄腕アトム 宇宙の勇者 Tetsuwan Atomu: Uchū no yūsha?) released in Japan. It was an anthology of three episodes; The Robot Spaceship, Last Day on Earth and Earth Defense Squadron. The latter two were filmed in color.
For the English version, the producers, NBC Enterprises settled on "Astro Boy" after discussions between producer Fred Ladd and representatives from NBC. Of the first 124 episodes created (there were 193 total), 104 were adapted into the English version by Fred Ladd, and initially syndicated from September 7, 1963 through August 20, 1965, with repeats continuing until the series was withdrawn from syndication in the early 1970s. The names were adjusted for American audiences. Frederik L. Schodt, who created the English version of the original comic, said that the names were “cleverly” changed for American tastes.
In one Astro Boy manga story Tezuka expressed frustration towards the restrictions passed by American television networks on the adaptation of the newly titled Astro Boy television series. The U.S. version did not air an episode showing a dog being operated on, as the producers believed it was too cruel and grotesque to show. Tezuka criticized this as hypocrisy, as non-Japanese eat and kill animals in manners he described as “grotesque.” Tezuka added that many White people in Africa shot animals for sport, yet people in England spread false rumors about Japanese people eating dogs.
The Right Stuf International and Madman Entertainment have recently released the entire dubbed series on DVD in two box sets. The Right Stuf sets also include episodes 1, 20, 34, 56, and 193 in Japanese with English subtitles, a behind-the-scenes film, and an interview with Fred Ladd.
- Atom / Astro Boy / Astor, A robot created and modeled upon Dr. Boynton's late son, Astor Boynton.
At first Dr. Boynton enjoyed his company and having his son back, however rejected the robot after realizing he could not grow up physically like a real human child. With this, the robot Astor was sold to the cruel circus owner, The Great Cacciatore, in order to perform in a circus and renamed as Astro. After a fire broke out during a circus show, Astro saved Cacciatore and was granted his freedom, due in part by intervention from Dr. Elefun and following the Law of Robot Rights being passed to grant robots the ability to lead the same lives as humans. Astro has several special powers, such as flying with rockets, super hearing, 100,000 horsepower, super human endurance and a machine gun which lies in his backside. In the final episode, which aired only in Japan, Astro sacrifices himself to save the Earth while carrying a shutter which would normalize the sun which was threatening all life on the planet.
- Professor Ochanomizu / Doctor Ochanomizu / Dr. Packidermus J. Elefun, head of the Ministry of Science after Dr. Boynton resigned. He is Astro's father figure and mentor, and is very supportive of him. He also created a robot family for Astro, including a mother, father, and a robot sister named Uran. Afterward, he reactivated the prototype of Astro, Cobalt, as his brother. Dr. Elefun always stands for robot's rights and don't want Astro to take part of unnecessary battles.
- Doctor Umataro Tenma / Dr. Astor Boynton II, former head of the Ministry of Science. He lost his only son, Astor Boynton III, to a deadly traffic accident. Overcome with grief, he vowed to recreate Astor as a great and powerful robot, and used every available resource of the Ministry to create his greatest creation: Astro Boy. Once he activated Astro, he was seemingly mentally better, but grew frustrated with the fact that, as a robot, Astro didn't grew physically like a human child. He sold Astro off to a circus owner, The Great Cacciatore, and resigned from the Ministry and was said to have disappeared. However, he has come out of hiding on occasion to assist Astro; one such occasion was to upgrade Astro's systems to allow him to output 1,000,000 horsepower.
- Astro's parents, created by Dr. Elefun in order to make Astro feel more human-like. His mother and father are kind and doting to Astro. They were not part of the cast in the 2003 series.
- Uran / Astro Girl / Zoran, Astro's younger sister and his most recurring sibling. Uran was given to him as a gift on Astro's birthday.
She is often tomboyish and usually gets herself in trouble, like allowing a scientist to give her the ability of splitting in two in order to both live a normal life with one body and fight in a robot battle arena with another. However, her strength was halved and her other half was destroyed. She is repaired, but no longer had the ability of splitting in two after Dr. Elefun repaired her.
- Cobalt / Jetto, Astro's older prototype brother.
He was thrown away by Dr. Boynton as scrap for being a failed prototype and reactivated by Dr. Elefun when Astro went missing during a search for a deadly H-bomb. The two found each other deep in the ocean due to transmitting on a common frequency, and Cobalt managed to save his brother from certain destruction.
- Chi-Tan / Ti-Tan, Astro's baby brother.
Dr. Elefun had made him alongside other robot babies, but Uran took him as the family's new baby brother.
- Higeoyaji / Mustachio / Shunsaku Ban / Mr. Percival Pompous / Daddy Walrus / Albert Duncan / Wally Kisaragi, Astro's schoolteacher and/or neighbor in the original manga and color 1980 TV series; a private detective and surrogate uncle for Astro in the 1960s TV series
- Shibugaki and Tamao / Dinny and Specs, two of Astro's friends.
Tamao is a very good friend for Astro while Shibugaki is rather a bully who learns of Astro's moral values after some adventures.
Inspector Tawashi's partneer who is made for comical relief, he acknowledge Astro's bravery and often try to defend him from his partneer Tawashi, specially when Astro is accused of a crime which he didn't commit.
A police inspector who have a huge distaste for robots and doesn't had much faith in Astro till he manage to prove his worth.
- Tobio Tenma / Astor Boynton III/ Toby Boynton / Toby Tenma, the little boy Astro was modeled after, who dies in the first episode.
- Atlas A robot created by Dr. Ram who wanted revenge against the whites for the slavery and in order to accomplish this task, he added the Omega Factor which would allow Atlas to commit several crimes. However, Atlas turn against his creator and leave him to be burned by the flowing lava, however Atom manages to defeat Atlas and save his creator.
- Dr. Ram, an Incan who wants revenge against slavery, for that he create a robot named Atlas for his cause, but after a turn of events Atlas turn against him and leaves him to be burn in the flowing lava caused by an artificial eruption.
However, Astro manage to beat Atlas and save Dr. Ram, who realize his mistake.
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