''Astro Boy'', known in Japan by its original name , is a Japanese manga
series written and illustrated by Osamu Tezuka
It was serialized in Kobunsha
's ''Shōnen'' from 1952 to 1968. The 112 chapters were collected into 23 ''tankōbon
'' volumes by Akita Shoten
. English volumes were not available until 2002, when the manga was licensed by Dark Horse
. The story follows Astro Boy
, an android
young boy with human emotions who is created by Umataro Tenma after the recent death of his son Tobio. Eventually, Astro is sold to a robot circus run by Hamegg, but is saved from his servitude by Professor Ochanomizu. Astro becomes a surrogate son to Ochanomizu who creates a robotic family for Astro and helps him to live a normal life like an average human boy, while accompanying him on adventures.
''Astro Boy'' has been adapted into three anime
series produced respectively by the first incarnation of Mushi Production
and its direct successor Tezuka Productions
, with a fourth in development. The manga was originally produced for TV as ''Astro Boy''
, the first popular animated Japanese television series that embodied the aesthetic that later became familiar worldwide as ''anime''.
After enjoying success abroad, ''Astro Boy'' was remade in the 1980s as ''New Mighty Atom
'', known as ''Astroboy'' in other countries, and again in 2003
. In November 2007, he was named Japan's envoy for overseas safety.
An American computer-animated film
based on the original manga series by Tezuka was released on October 23, 2009. In March 2015, a trailer was released announcing a new animated series. The success of the manga and anime series led it to becoming a major media franchise consisting of films
including a major motion picture
, a number of soundtrack
s and a library of video games
. The series was also among the first to embrace mass merchandise including action figures
, collectible figurines
, food products, clothing, stamps and trading cards
. By 2004, the franchise had generated in merchandise sales.
Astro Boy is one of the most successful manga and anime franchises in the world and has become Tezuka's most famous creation. The combined 23 ''tankōbon'' volumes have sold over 100 million copies worldwide, making it the tenth-best-selling manga series
of all time. The 1963 anime series became a hit on television in Japan and the United States. ''Astro Boy'' has been praised for its importance in developing the anime and manga industry. It has been featured on numerous greatest anime of all time lists and has partially inspired other authors in the creation of influential manga.
''Astro Boy'' is a science fiction
series set in a futuristic world where robots
co-exist with humans
. Its focus is on the adventures of the titular "Astro Boy" (sometimes called simply "Astro"): a powerful android created by the head of the Ministry of Science, Doctor Tenma
(known as Dr. Astor Boynton II in the 1960s English dub; Dr. Boynton in the 1980s English dub). Dr. Tenma created Astro to replace his son Tobio ('Astor' in the 1960s English dub; 'Toby' in the 1980s English dub and the 2009 film), who was killed in a self-driving traffic collision (first ran away, then was killed in the accident in the 2003 anime; vaporized by the Peacekeeper in the 2009 film). Dr. Tenma built and adopted Astro in Tobio's memory and treated Astro as lovingly as if he was the real Tobio. However, Dr. Tenma soon realized that the little android could not fill the void of his lost son, especially given that Astro could not grow older or express human aesthetics
(in one set of panels in the manga
, Astro is shown preferring the mechanical shapes of cubes over the organic shapes of flowers). In the original 1960 edition, Tenma rejected Astro and sold him to a cruel circus owner, Hamegg
(the Great Cacciatore in the '60 English dub). In the 1980 edition, Hamegg kidnapped Astro while Tenma was trying to find him. In the 2009 film, Tenma rejected Astro part-time because he could not stop thinking about his original son, but later during the film, Tenma realized that Astro made credit to replace Tobio; as a result, Tenma decided that he would readopt Astro. None these events about Astro being rejected (completely or temporarily) or kidnapped in both the 1960 and 1980 cartoons as well as in the 2009 film happened in the 2003 cartoon as Astro's birth was given by Professor Ochanomizu
(Dr. Elefun in the 1960 and 1980 cartoons, as well as in the 2009 film; Dr. O'Shay in the 2003 cartoon).
After some time, Professor Ochanomizu, the new head of the Ministry of Science (co-head of the Ministry of Science in the 2009 film), notices Astro Boy performing in the circus and convinces Hamegg to turn Astro over to him. (In a retcon
the story becomes far more violent and complicated). He then takes Astro in as his own and treats him gently and warmly, becoming his legal guardian
. He soon realizes that Astro has superior powers and skills, as well as the ability to experience human emotions.
Astro then is shown fighting crime, evil, and injustice using his seven powers: 100K horsepower strength, jet flight, high intensity lights in his eyes, adjustable hearing, instant language translation, a retractable machine gun in his hips, and a high IQ capable of determining if a person is good or evil. Most of his enemies are robot-hating humans, robots gone berserk, or alien invaders. Almost every story includes a battle involving Astro and other robots. In one manga episode, Astro takes on the US Air Force, and stops it from bombing some innocent Vietnamese villagers (this was a time-travel episode, in which Astro went back from the 21st century to 1969).
The ''Astro Boy'' series consists of several storylines. Atom (known as Astro Boy or just Astro in English) originally appeared as a supporting character in the Tezuka comic ''Atom Taishi'' (''Ambassador Atom'', sometimes referred to as ''Captain Atom''), which appeared in ''Shonen'', a monthly magazine for boys, in April 1951. Tezuka then created a comic series in which Astro was the main character.
[Schodt, Frederik L. "Introduction." ''Astro Boy'' Volume 1 (Comic by Osamu Tezuka). Dark Horse Comics and Studio Proteus. Page 1 of 3 (The introduction section has 3 pages). .]
According to Schodt, Tezuka created Astro to be a "21st-century reverse-Pinocchio
, a nearly perfect robot who strove to become more human and emotive and to serve as an interface between man and machine."
[Schodt, Frederik L. "Introduction." ''Astro Boy'' Volume 1 (Comic by Osamu Tezuka). Dark Horse Comics and Studio Proteus. Page 3 of 3 (The introduction section has 3 pages). .]
As Tezuka's art style advanced, Astro Boy "became more modern and cute" to appeal to his audience of boys in elementary school.
[Schodt, Frederik L.
"Introduction." ''Astro Boy'' Volume 1 (manga by Osamu Tezuka). Dark Horse Comics and Studio Proteus. Page 2 of 3 (The introduction section has 3 pages). .]
Schodt added that the page layouts used in ''Astro Boy'' episodes "became more creative."
When designing supporting characters, Tezuka sometimes created characters that were homages to Walt Disney
, the creator of Mickey Mouse
and Disney Princesses
, Max Fleischer
, the creator of Superman
, and other American animators. In several of the ''Astro Boy'' stories, the first few pages were in color.
Tezuka had a "Star System" of characters
where characters from his other works played various roles in ''Astro Boy''. Similarly, several characters in ''Astro Boy'' appear in his other works. Tezuka developed "a type of dialog with his readers" since he developed so many stories during his lifetime.
Tezuka also had a habit of introducing nonsensical characters at random moments in order to lighten a scene which was becoming too serious; he sometimes felt trapped by the need to satisfy his young male audience's desire to see battling robots.
''Astro Boy'' was described by Schodt as an "analog," a world where man and advanced technology coexist. As a result, the plots of the ''Astro Boy'' stories often involve issues that stem from this idea. When ''Astro Boy'' was created in the 1950s and 1960s, Japan did not have the reputation for science and technology that it had gained by 2002. This made the "analog" nature of ''Astro Boy ''unique.
The novels were originally published by Akita Shoten
; 23 volumes of paper backs were printed. The stories do not appear in order by publication date, but in the order that Tezuka and the collection editors considered most appropriate. The collection begins with ''The Birth of Astro Boy'', an episode that Tezuka wrote in 1975 to make the collection of stories easier to understand. The first ''Astro Boy'' story ever written, first published in April 1951, is in volume 15. In addition, Tezuka often re-drew chapters that he had created earlier. Schodt explains that this is the reason some may appear "more modern" than others. For many of his older stories, Tezuka added introductory pages where he himself was portrayed as the narrator. The color pages were reprinted in black and white for the inexpensive paperback versions.
The English-language version of ''Astro Boy'' is an adaptation of the Akita Shoten published works by Osamu Tezuka.
The artwork was flipped from the original Japanese version so the books could be read from left to right. Frederik L. Schodt
translated the English-language version of ''Astro Boy'' and for most of the characters, he used the original Japanese names. Schodt believed that it was necessary to retain the Japanese names wherever possible, as the story was set in Japan. Schodt translated the nickname "Higeoyaji
" to "Mr. Mustachio," and decided to use Astro Boy's English name. He explained that "Astro" is close to the Japanese name, "Atom", an English word. In addition, Schodt believed that using "Atom" in an American edition of the story would be "going too much against the history". Occasionally, names of Japanese characters had double meanings that were impossible to convey in the English-language translation. Schodt decided that keeping the sound of the names was important, especially when the names were famous. In those cases, Schodt tried to use the double meaning elsewhere in the translation. When dealing with minor foreign characters with humorous-sounding names, Schodt used equivalent English puns wherever it was possible.
The editors of the English-language ''Astro Boy'' book did not remove content that could be perceived to be racially insensitive. They explained that in some cases people may be portrayed differently from how they actually were in 2002 (the year of publication of the English version). The editors said that some readers may feel that the portrayals contribute to racial discrimination and, while that was not Tezuka's intent, the issue needed to be explained as some readers may feel offended or insulted by the depictions. They felt that it would be inappropriate to revise the works, because Tezuka had died and there was no way to reverse what he created, and revising his works would violate his right as a creator. They also expressed the belief that editing or stopping publication of the work would "do little" to end racial and ethnic discrimination throughout the world.
*Mighty Atom / Astro Boy
*Dr. Umatarō Tenma / Dr. Boynton / Dr. Balthus
, Astro's father and creator.
*Professor Ochanomizu / Doctor Ochanomizu / Dr. Packidermus J. Elefun
, head of the Ministry of Science
*Astro's parents, created by Prof. Ochanomizu in order to make Astro more human-like
*Uran / Astro Girl / Zoran
, Astro's younger sister
*Cobalt / Jetto
, Astro's younger brother (appears as older brother in the 1960s anime)
*Chi-Tan / Ti-Tan, Astro's 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
*Chief Nakamura / Chief McLaw
*Inspector Tawashi / Inspector Gumshoe
/ Astor Boynton III/ Toby Boynton / Toby Tenma, the little boy Astro was modeled after, who dies in the first episode
, another robot, Astro's nemesis.
was originally published from 1952 to 1968, followed by a newspaper serialization (1967–1969) and two further series in 1972–1973 and 1980–1981.
The original ''Mighty Atom'' manga stories were later published in English-language
versions by Dark Horse Comics
in a translation by Frederik L. Schodt
. They followed the television series by keeping the character name as "Astro Boy", the name most familiar to English-speaking audiences, instead of "Mighty Atom." Names of the other characters, such as Doctor Tenma
and Professor Ochanomizu
, are those of the original Japanese.
Astro Boy (along with some of his supporting characters) appear in a series of "edu-manga" that tell biographies of famous personalities such as Helen Keller
, Albert Einstein
and Mother Teresa
. Astro Boy and his "sister" appear in prologues and epilogues for each story and learn about the famous person from Dr. Ochanomizu, who acts as narrator for each installment. These manga were published by Kodansha, Ltd. from 2000 to 2002 with English-language versions published by Digital Manga Publishing and seeing print from 2003 to 2005.
From 2003 to 2009, Naoki Urasawa
wrote the series ''Pluto
'', with help from Takashi Nagasaki. It adapts ''Astro Boys arc into a murder mystery.
In a 2004 manga of ''Tetsuwan Atom'' written by Akira Himekawa, the plot, as well as the character designs, loosely followed that of the 2003 anime series. The artwork is quite different from Tezuka's original. This version of the manga was published in English by Chuang Yi
and distributed in Australia by Madman Entertainment
A prequel, ''Atom: The Beginning
'' began serialization in 2014. It later received an anime adaptation in 2017.
In 1965, Gold Key
published a one-shot comic book, licensed by NBC Enterprises
, based on the U.S. version
of the ''Astro Boy'' TV show. This was done without any input from Osamu Tezuka
, who considered the book an unauthorized or "pirate" edition and denounced the publication as "horribly drawn".
Astro Boy also appears in the premium giveaway series, "March of Comics" (# 285) also published by Gold Key in 1966.
Editorial Mo.Pa.Sa., an Argentine company, published the comic book ''Las Fantásticas Aventuras de Astroboy'' in the 1970s.
In 1987, the Chicago-based comics publisher NOW Comics
issued their own version
of ''Astro Boy'', with art done by Canadian artist Ken Steacy
, and again done without Osamu Tezuka giving input. The series was cancelled in mid-1988.
The ''Astro Boy'' animated television series premiered on Fuji TV
on New Year's Day
, 1963, and is the first popular animated Japanese television
series that embodied the aesthetic that later became familiar worldwide as ''anime
''. 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. Only the first two years (a total of 104 episodes) were dubbed in English and shown in the US. (The other 89 episodes were never made available in English.)
A second full color remake of the original stories was produced by Tezuka Productions. The series premiered on NTV
, October 1, 1980. At total of 52 episodes were produced and aired. The series was directed by Ishiguro Noboru
. The series was released on a 7 disc compilation set by Manga Entertainment
on November 22, 2005. A further "Greatest Astro Boy Adventures" DVD was released on July 18, 2006.
A third series of fifty episodes was produced by Tezuka Productions, Sony Pictures Entertainment Japan, Dentsu, and Fuji Television network. It was created to celebrate the birth date of Astro Boy, and was first broadcast in Japan on the same date as Astro's birth in the manga (April 7, 2003) across Animax and Fuji Television. It was directed by Kazuya Konaka and written by Chiaki J. Konaka, with additional writers including Keiichi Hasegawa, Sadayuki Murai, Ai Ohta, Hirotoshi Kobayashi, Kenji Konuta, and Marc Handler.
At the 2013 Annecy International Animated Film Festival
, Tezuka Productions
revealed that they were in early negotiations to create local adaptations of Astro Boy with international companies. The furthest along was a partnership with Nigeria's Channels TV
, with whom Tezuka was looking to "re-version" the brand with. The project surfaced the following year as the preschool-oriented ''Little Astro Boy
During the 2014 Annecy Festival, Tezuka Productions confirmed it was developing more shows. The first, ''Astro Boy Reboot'' would be a co-production with France's Caribara Productions and Monaco's Shibuya Productions. Additionally, it was confirmed that more ''Little Astro Boy'' was on the way.
The new ''Little Astro Boy'' would later be revealed in 2016 as an entirely separate production with France's Planet Nemo
. The series was later named to ''Go Astro Boy Go!
'' before debuting in 2019.
In 1962, MBS released a live-action movie, a compilation film made up of episodes from the 1959–60 live-action TV series that came before the 1960s animated television series and, which loosely followed the manga. The opening sequence (approximately one minute) is animated, and the rest is live action. The movie was of 75 minute in duration.
Tezuka met Walt Disney
at the 1964 World's Fair
, at which time Disney said he hoped to "make something just like" Tezuka's ''Astro Boy''. A Japanese IMAX featurette was made in 2005, based on the 2003–2004 anime, titled "Astro Boy vs IGZA
", but has only been shown in Japan.
A computer-animated feature film version
was released in October 2009 from Imagi Animation Studios
. The English version features the voices of Freddie Highmore
as Astro Boy and Nicolas Cage
as Dr. Tenma. IDW Publishing released a comic book adaptation of the movie to coincide with the film's release in Oct. 2009; both as a four-part mini-series and as a graphic novel.
As of July 2017, a live-action film is in production with New Line Cinema
and Animal Logic
developed and published their ''Mighty Atom
'' video game for the Nintendo Famicom
in 1988. It is known for its extreme difficulty level attributed to a one-hit death rule.
published the Zamuse-developed release of their ''Mighty Atom
'' for the Super Famicom
system in 1994. Like the Konami game, this title follows events in the Manga
published a pair of games based on Astro Boy. ''Astro Boy: Omega Factor
'' for the Game Boy Advance
drew from various elements from the series, while ''Astro Boy
'' for the PlayStation 2
was loosely based on the 2003 anime with a slightly darker plot.
''Astro Boy: The Video Game
'' is a video game
based on the Astro Boy animated feature film from Imagi Animation Studios
. It was originally released on October 8, 2009 from D3Publisher
for Nintendo's Wii
, and Sony Computer Entertainment's PlayStation 2 and PlayStation Portable
(the only version released in Japan). It features the voices of Kristen Bell
and Freddie Highmore
Mobile game publisher Animoca
developed a series of six ''Astro Boy'' themed titles for iOS
devices between 2013 and 2016: the endless runner
''Astro Boy Dash'', the musical edutainment
application ''Astro Boy Piano'', the shooter
''Astro Boy Flight'', the strategy defense
''Astro Boy Siege: Alien Attack'', the puzzle game
crossover ''Tezuka World: Astro Crunch'', and a second endless runner called ''Astro Boy Zap''.
In 2016, Active Gaming Media
launched a Kickstarter
campaign for ''Astro Boy: Edge of Time'', a digital card game
featuring drawings by a number of well known artists. While the campaign failed to reach its $50,000 goal, it was eventually released as a free-to-play
title in Japan on DMM.com
and on Steam
internationally in April and June 2017. The game was shut down on March 29, 2018.
The character has also shown up in video game crossovers alongside Tezuka's other works, including the 2012 Android and iOS mobile game ''Great Battle! Tezuka All Stars''. Astro Boy also appears as a playable character in the crossover puzzle game
'', released by Nicalis
in 2019 for the Nintendo Switch
and PlayStation 4
''Eshigami no Kizuna'', a Compile Heart
video game that re-imagines Tezuka characters as ''bishōjo
'', is scheduled to be released on mobile platforms in 2019.
The manga has sold approximately 100 million copies.
''Astro Boy'' became Tezuka's most famous work. Frederik L. Schodt
, the translator of the English-language version of the manga, said it had "extraordinary longevity and appeal across cultures."
Schodt said that many of the stories are "sometimes" of "uneven quality." Schodt said that as the time becomes closer to "a true age of robots," ''Astro Boy'' assumes more meaning.
Jeff Yang of the ''San Francisco Chronicle
'', in discussing Schodt's ''The Astro Boy Essays'', said "while kids came for Astro's atomic action – just about every installment included Astro harrowing a fellow robot who'd fallen from digital grace with his fission-powered fists – they stayed for the textured, surprisingly complex stories."
Astro ranked 43rd on ''Empire
'' magazine's list of The 50 Greatest Comic Book Characters.
The 1960s anime was named the 86th best animated series by IGN
, calling it the first popular anime television series.
The 1980s anime was extremely popular in Australia
, and many parts of Asia
, with two different English dubs. The dub shown in Australia (and to a lesser extent in the USA) was coordinated by Tezuka Productions and NTV and produced in the USA. Another dub was produced in Canada solely for broadcast there.
While the 2003 anime did poorly in North America, having received poor distribution and having been heavily edited, including the removal of its orchestrated soundtrack and much of Astro's childlike innocence, it was better received in the UK
on the BBC
, where it ran for almost three years, as well as other parts of the world such as Dubai
based MBC 3
On April 7, 2003, the city of Niiza, Saitama
registered the Astro Boy character as a resident to coincide with his birthdate in the manga. That same day, the JR Yamanote Line
platform at JR Takadanobaba Station
started using the theme music from the TV series to signal the departure of a train.
Also, many lamp posts in the area carry pictures from the TV series, and two large murals depicting Tezuka's works are across the street of JR Takadanobaba station. Later in 2004, the theme music from the TV series would eventually be used to signal the departure of a train at JR Niiza Station
on the JR Musashino Line
*List of Osamu Tezuka manga
*List of Osamu Tezuka anime
*Osamu Tezuka's Star System
Official Osamu Tezuka Web Site
Interview with Fred Schodt
at Don Markstein's Toonopedia
. at Don Markstein's Toonopedia
. from the original on April 6, 2012.
Category:1968 comics endings
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Category:Osamu Tezuka anime
Category:Osamu Tezuka manga
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