Astro Boy tells the story of a youthful robot boy - Astro - modeled after the deceased son of a research scientist, Dr. Tenma. Originally intended to be kept a secret, the atomic-powered ... See full summary »
Tabitha St. Germain,
The first animated television series to be shown overseas from its originating country. See more »
In the first episode, it's the year 2000 when Dr. Tenma/Boynton starts building Astroboy. One year passes as Dr. Tenma builds Astroboy, and several years pass as Astroboy is supposed to be growing up. However, later episodes in the series say it's still the year 2000. See more »
FOOD FOR THOUGHT DEPARTMENT: That Astro Boy is neither astronomical nor a true boy is immaterial; for is Captain Kangaroo either a Captain or a Kangaroo?
WE recall seeing this ASTRO BOY (Japanese/NBC Distribution, 1963-66)* the first time on our local NBC Station. This was WNBQ, Channel 5 here in Chicago. This station, which would soon change its call letters to WMAQ in order to conform with the flagship & charter member NBC Radio station, aired the ASTROBOY Episodes on Sunday Mornings, at about 10:00 A.M.; which seemed to be an odd hour for a first-run series, animated or not.
THERE CERTAINLY must have been a lot lost in the translation; for we were not certain of this little android's origin nor what was his mission here on earth. The opening montage of scenes depicts the robot-child flying, punching and otherwise seemingly rendering his enemies harmless, helpless and hog-tied. All of these tightly edited highlight scenes were performed without any dialogue with a sound track that played an ASTROBOY Theme Song being rendered energetically by what is obviously a juvenile choral group and a robustly played organ.
AS WE recall little ASTROBOY engaged in some grown-up sized struggles with some nasty, evil and powerful villain-opponents. His actions and demeanor bore a strong resemblance to that of the American Comic Book Super Heroes; who had been doing their thing in the 4 Color printed pages of the Comics Magazines (aka Comic Books or even "Joke Books" in some circles) for well over a Quarter Century by this time. Their style of action & adventure had also been eagerly adapted to the airwaves in Radio and TV Series and Motion Picture Serials & Features.
BUT THIS character still seemed to be very different. Our instincts told our still less experienced and (even) innocent naivety that there was something distinctly alien or foreign about this production. The rather obvious post synchronized dubbing of the English dialogue adds to the highly unique overall look and feel of the adventures. The talk of the characters seems to be somewhat out of synch with their movements; which further adds to giving it a surreal and dream-like appearance.
IN THE EPISODES we recall, the little Android's 'life'** and activities were all played out under the auspices of a brilliant scientist-inventor. (What else didja expect, Schultz?) As his mentor, Professor Elephant provided counsel and guidance; but little in the way of family, love or true understanding. The kindly, but stern professor apparently got his moniker from his physical appearance.
IN MUCH the same manner as that followed so successfully by Chester Gould with his immortal comic strip, DICK TRACY (Chicago Tribune-New York News Syndicate, 1931-Present), the creative team behind young ASTROBOY'S supporting characters endowed them with names highly descriptive of their physical appearances. Ergo, as we might expect, Professor Elephant possessed a magnificent proboscis. His entire design, as were all characters in the series, was most definitely done in a cartoony style. The good Professor's entire look was sort of like a mixture of caricatures of W.C. Fields, veteran character Actor Maurice Cass and the proverbial "Rolly-Polly Policeman".
THIS SERIES was the first example of Japanese Animation that we ever saw. No doubt it was more than likely the same for most of our readers and viewers of the mid 1960's. The term "JAPANIMATION" certainly had not been coined at this point in time and ASTROBOY surely was a most memorable trail blazer for the genre in the U.S., U.K. and the rest of the Western Civilized World. While we don't pretend to have understood it, either then or even now, we had a bizarre attraction for its unique stories and method of rendering same.
IN short, we liked it. Both Schultz and I recommend it; so give it a try if you get the opportunity.
NOTE: * The Japanese name for the little guy was literally ATOM BOY; which was probably considered to be inappropriate for viewing for Americans. (Or some such silly-assed reasoning!)
NOTE: ** An Android is defined as an Automotan (Robot) with a human-like and realistic appearance.
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