Astro Boy (Japanese: 鉄腕アトム, Hepburn: Tetsuwan Atomu, "Mighty Atom", lit. "Iron Arm Atom") is a Japanese television series that premiered on Fuji TV on New Year's Day, 1963 (a Tuesday), 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." It lasted for four seasons, with a total of 193 episodes, the final episode presented on a Saturday, 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 consisted of three of the cartoon episodes; The Robot Spaceship, Last Day on Earth and Earth Defense Squadron. The latter two were filmed in color.
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 name New Mighty Atom and again in 2003 as Astro Boy: Mighty Atom.
Astro Boy is set in the year 2000, forty years in the future from its original production in the 1960s. Dr. Tenma, a scientist working in the Ministry of Science's Department of Precision Machinery, loses his only son, Tobio, in a car crash. Out of grief, he orders the production of a "super-robotic" in Tobio's likeness. Though the robot is the most advanced anyone has ever seen, he is not pleased with it because of the fact that it does not grow, and in a fit of rage he sells it to the circus. After this, he loses his job at the Ministry of Science and rarely appears again. He harnesses a complicated relationship towards robots, mainly believing that they should not be treated as humans but as slaves.
In the circus, where robots exist, but are a lot more primitively made than Tobio (now named Atom), they are forced to participate in fighting tournaments similar to gladiator battles. However, Atom wishes to be peaceful. Eventually, he runs into Professor Ochanomizu, the man who succeeded Dr. Tenma at the head of the Ministry of Science; Ochanomizu is treated much differently than Tenma, being regarded as a savior figure by the robots for his affection and kindness towards them that Tenma did not possess. After realizing how advanced Atom is compared to the rest of the other robots, he sets him free from the circus, becoming a surrogate father figure to him.
Why it Rocks
- Follows the source material very faithfully.
- Lots of funny moments and jokes.
- An incredible music score especially the first theme of the show.
- Emotional moments, such as Tobio's death.
- Lots of cute moments.
- Amazing dub by NBC that kept the show's writing very well faithful.
- A very wide range of likable characters, the most memorable characters being Astro Boy, Uran, and Ochanomizu.
- Really stupendous voice acting. Especially from the NBC dub as all the actors are well cast, and put in a pretty great performance.
- The Astro Boy theme song is memorable and catchy.
- Amazing use of awesome futuristic synthesized sound effects.
- Hilarious quotes, like "Go, go, go!" and "I've got 50,000 horsepower just rearin' to go."
- A few mean-spirited moments.
- A few bad jokes.
- The 2009 Astro Boy film wasn't received very well.
- Uran, while cute and likeable, sounds kinda annoying.
- Specs was an unlikeable character, as he tortures Dr. Ochanomizu.
- The animation wasn't perfect back in 1963.
- The show, while good, was filmed in black and white, which was a bit boring.
- The post-"Parting Gift" episodes was only aired in Japan and not in US which was pointless.
- "The Greatest Adventure on Earth" was a terrible way to end this TV show, due to Astro's death.