THE PLOT THUS FAR
In a future where science fiction is reality, Dr. Boynton creates a super-robot in his deceased son’s image. Named Astro Boy, the robot can swim oceans, leap over mountains and even fly into space – but he can’t replace the doctor’s son. Abandoned and disowned, soon Astro Boy is befriended by Dr. Packadermus J. Elefun of the Institute of Science, and together, they embark upon an amazing adventure. With super strength, rocket-powered flight, a selfless heart and a kind demeanor, Astro Boy fights a never-ending crusade against the forces of evil!
WHAT WE THOUGHT
Astro Boy is the first Japanese anime series, being created in 1963. It was also the first anime I was exposed to, again in 1963. Needless to say, I remember it vividly and was ecstatic to discover some of the series was out on DVD. Many of the tropes one finds in the current anime are present here. In fact, one episode known as “The Silver Comet” or “The Vehicle White Planet”, may well be the precursor to Speed Racer.
As I wind down my coverage of the five part release of the Astro Boy 2003 series, I’m left with a little bit of confusion. There’s a lot of style and outside panache that leaves one wondering what’s going to happen next. Yet, there’s so much melodrama that you wonder how anyone over the age of 13 can stand watching it. Still, it’s fascinating.
The characters remain faithful to the original designs, yet the animation leaps into the new millennium with great flourishes. There must be some CGI stuff going on, but it all looks like traditional animation, no small feat (hidden inside Astro Boy’s huge red boots, no doubt).The future cityscapes are spectacular, and retain original artist Osamu Tezuka’s colourful utopian style. Like the feature anime METROPOLIS, the future is optimistically bright.
The stories show us many imaginative possibilities of future society, while exploring a long story arc of Astro Boy discovering his origin and true identity of his father. Astro’s not aware that Dad is making him some extremely dangerous adversaries…
The show has a number of strengths, including the mixture of characters. Dr. Elefun is as noble and dedicated as you could imagine, but also quite funny, especially as he tries to help Astro Boy find a balance between his gentle heart and his need to use his atomic powers to defend the downtrodden. The overall message of the show of course is that those with power have a responsibility to protect the weak, a message that our selfish times could stand to internalize. Of course, we also see that violence is usually the called-for action in the face of evil.
The DVD comes with the final set of ten episodes of the series’ classic original run. The original audio dubs into English are there, sorry fans of the original Japanese. But, you get A/V Quality that looks like it has finally been restored. Sadly, there are no other special features. I’d recommend a rental.
RELEASE DATE: 09/15/09