Astro Boy (character)
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|Astro Boy character|
Astro Boy by Osamu Tezuka
|First appearance||Captain Atom (April 1951)|
|Created by||Osamu Tezuka|
|Voiced by (English)||Billie Lou Watt (1963 TV Series)
Patricia Kugler Whitely (1982 TV Series)
Steven Bednarski (Canadian broadcast of 1982 TV Series)
Candi Milo (2004 TV Series)
Freddie Highmore (2009 Film)
|Voiced by (Japanese)||Mari Shimizu (1963 and 1980 TV Series)
Makoto Tsumura (2003 TV Series)
Aya Ueto (2009 Film)
|Portrayed by||Masato Segawa (1959 Live Action Series)|
|Relatives||Doctor Tenma (Creator), Professor Ochanomizu (Foster Father), Tobio Tenma (Brother, Prototype concept, Deceased)|
Astro Boy (アトム Atomu , lit. "Atom") is a title character and the protagonist of the Astro Boy franchise. Created by Osamu Tezuka, the character was introduced in the 1951 Captain Atom manga. Astro Boy has appeared in animated television shows (notably the 1963, 1980, 2003 series) and feature film adaptations of its eponymous manga, as well as a live-action TV series, other works by Tezuka, and video games.
Creation and conception
Atom (known as Astro Boy or just Astro in the dub) originally appeared as a supporting character in the 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 Atom was the main character.
Osamu Tezuka created Atom to be, in the words of Frederik L. Schodt (creator of the English-language version of the Astro Boy manga), 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." As Tezuka's art style advanced, Atom "became more modern and 'cute'" to appeal to the audience of boys in elementary school.
Original manga & 1960s series
Atom was created by Doctor Tenma (Dr. Boynton in the 1960s English dub), and was meant to be a replacement for his deceased son Tobio ("Toby" in various English translations and Astor Boynton in the 1960s English dub). However, because the robot replica was not able to grow and age like a normal human child, Doctor Tenma sold him to a Robot Circus led by the cruel Ham Egg. At the circus, Atom was renamed to "Atom" and later found by Professor Ochanomizu (Dr. Elefun) and took away following the law of robot rights. Professor Ochanomizu gave Atom a family with a robotic mother, father, sister (Uran/Astro Girl) and brother (Cobalt/Jetto). As head of the Ministry of Science, Professor Ochanomizu often calls on Atom to help resolve situations involving humans, robots and (on occasion) extraterrestrials.
Atom appeared in the show of the same name as its major protagonist. He was originally built by Doctor Tenma after his original son, Toby, died in a tragic car accident. Built in Tobio’s image, Tenma is nearing the completion of a child robot with jets and weapons that he sees as his son; however, his coworkers are afraid of the danger that such a robot may bring. While the robot is almost finished, the villain Skunk manages to steal copies of its plans and give them to count Walpur Guiss (his boss), who plans to build a robot equipped with the Omega Factor (which gives his robot the ability to lie and other negative qualities) to “rule the world”.
Doctor Tenma raises Atom as if he were his dead son, teaching him to speak and eat (which Atom has the ability to perform). While being alone, Atom learns to fly but accidentally touches electric wires. His destroyed clothes appear to be the only consequences, but not very long afterward the robot has a malfunction and his eyes flashing red. Tenma calls Honda, who tolds him the robot might have a short-circuit (although the real reason is the activation of Atlas, Walpur Guiss’s robot).
Honda attempted to destroy the robot with a Robot Disposer, but it went out of control due Dr. Tenma's interference and it went attacking everyone of the city. The robot Tobio, who had been recovered, saved everyone and destroyed the rampaging Robot Disposer, dumping it into the sea.
Soon, the news that Dr. Tenma's robot gets out, and Tenma, fearing that the secret is out, decides that he and his creation shall go to America.
On the cruise ship, The robot Tobio fails to master his powers, and has caused a lot of damages such as breaking a tap and ripping away his father’s suit. As a result, Tenma forbids him to go to the dinner with him, but changes his mind at the request of a passenger who want to meet his son. However when it is noted that Tobio is a robot, people all around the dining room are upset. Following another goof up by Tobio, Tenma expels him, refusing to acknowledge him as his son anymore and calls him a robot. While outside, Tobio is approached by a man called Hamegg who comforts him. A cruel, unforgiving ringmaster for a robot circus, he wants to use Tobio for basic backstage work and asks Astro to sign a contract. Astro, not knowing what the contract means, signs the contract and now he is a possession of Hamegg.
Skunk, meanwhile, brings Atlas with him for his next plot, which is to cause icebergs to sink a ship and have Atlas recover the gold transported by the ship. Tobio foils the plan by attacking the icebergs. He meets Atlas and they both realize that they feel they already met each other in the past without knowing how, then fight. Astro is drained out of energy and falls unconscious at Atlas’ feet. About to destroy him, Atlas forgives him remembering of Livian's words who told him to not take advantage of weak people. Hamegg soon finds Tobio and locks him in his trunk. Tenma, now feeling remorse, calls for his robot son, but no-one answers.
Tobio wakes up at the circus surrounded by Hamegg, Kathy, his employee, and Tornado, the robot star of the circus. Tobio is given daily chores and performs a clown act in the show. Misunderstanding the instructions he is given and not yet in control of his amazing power, he commits one mistake after another, drawing Hamegg’s fury. By then, Hamegg is already doubting his decision to bring Tobio to his cirus.
Dr. Ochanomizu is in town and watches the circus, where Tobio catches his eye. Suffering from bad maintenance, Tornado misses his circus act and is destroyed. Losing the owner’s confidence, Hamegg is in danger of losing the circus. Confident in Tobio’s abilities, Kathy convinces Hamegg that she can teach him Tornado’s dangerous act, which involves him jumping through two spinning rings filled with electricity, which would save the circus. Tobio trains while the circus moves to another city, leaving Ochanomizu, who has finally recognized him as Dr. Tenma’s missing robot. Ochanomizu finds him right as Tobio is about to perform the trapeze act. Tobio makes it, and then saves the crowd from the elephant robots that have become mad after Hamegg overpowered them.
Ochanomizu attempts to convince Hamegg to let Tobio go with him, but Hamegg will not hear of it. Meanwhile, Kathy plots to make it look like Tobio was destroyed in an explosion. Hamegg is convinced after watching what seems like Tobio’s parts scattered around, and rips up the contract. Kathy then secretly brings Tobio to Dr. Ochanomizu, who is going to bring him back to his native country. Ochanomizu explains that Tobio is an atomic robot, and Kathy decides he needs to bear a special name: “Atom”. And thus, back in Japan, the adventures of Atom begins.
Atom re-appears as the protagonist in the 2003 series; a robot with the ability to think and reason ('Kokoro', or Japanese for 'heart and soul'). Atom was created by Doctor Tenma as a ‘replacement’ for Tobio, his deceased son. Tenma, overcome with grief, decided to make an identical robot copy, which he will raise just like his own. Tenma, however, during the project lost the trust of his fellow scientists, who had thought that he has been overcome with grief and longing for his son and as a result went insane. Tenma, who was indeed displaying signs of insanity at that point, finished his project and named the robot after his son. Unfortunately, things got out of hand as soon as Astro was led into the basement full of broken robots (including Robita) and the robot Tobio (doing the same thing the original Tobio has done) asks for Tenma to fix it. After Tenma refuses, the robot Tobio rebels against him (the same thing the original Tobio has done) and as a result Tenma shuts him down.
Before long, Tenma well and truly went insane, and burnt down the lab of the Ministry of Science and resigning his position as minister . The robot, though, was found by Tenma successor (Ochanomizu) who attempted to bring it back to life and succeeded. The robot was renamed Atom, and Ochanomizu brought him up as a child and he eventually became the hero of Metro City.
Ochanomizu then made him as human-like as possible through means of allowing him to go to school, interact with friends and even gave him a robotic sister (Uran), which he is very protective of. Ochanomizu also acts like a father to him, and also in the household is the nanny-bot Robita (different from the other one which used to live with Tobio). Despite at time acting and behaving like a normal human boy, when duty calls he often fights and defeats evil robots, humans and on occasion aliens. Strangely, another villain is Dr. Tenma, who is deeply unsure if he wants Atom back or if he wants to kill him, as he is still insane. Following the Robotania episodes, Atom was badly damaged and Dr. Ochanomizu could not repair him, however Dr. Tenma offered a deal: he would restore Atom if Dr. Ochanomizu allowed him to do the work alone. Atom was repaired, but got all his memories erased, however Uran and Atom's friends went for his rescue and attempted to protect him from Lamp who went into a rampage against Dr. Tenma and Atom upon learning about their hideout.
Atom recovered his memories and defeated Lamp, afterward Dr. Tenma fleed and later attacked the science ministry where he revealed Atom his story.
Dr. Tenma tould Atom that he had rebelled against him just like the dead Tobio did and wanted him to join his side, but Atom refused.
With this, Dr. Tenma started a time bomb and tried to destroy himself, but Atom tould him that he don't wanted his father to die and Dr. Tenma tould him to live with Dr. Ochanomizu since he wasn't suitable for being a father after all what he done.
Later, the robots earned rights and Dr. Tenma was then found in the prison putting photos of both of his sons.
Afterward Atom's friends congratulated him for having his dream realized, but he said that there would still another dream to be realized.
This series also had a game counterpart.
The film is set in the futuristic Metro City, a metropolis which floats in the sky above the polluted "Surface". Metro City's population is aided by a multitude of different robots who are dumped on the Surface when broken or disused. Toby, son of Dr. Tenma, learns that his father is going to show President Stone, the militaristic leader of the city, the Peacekeeper, a new guardian robot that he's been working on. Doctor Elefun, one of Tenma's colleagues, introduces Stone to the Blue and Red Cores, two energy spheres mined from a star fragment, that produce energy which can power robots via positive and negative energy, respectively. Stone places the Red Core in the Peacekeeper, causing it to go out of control. The Peacekeeper tries to attack the humans, but Tenma puts a barrier between them. Meanwhile, Toby has been released early from school, and rewires Orrin, his family's robot, in order to attend the Ministry of Science's demonstration of the Peacekeeper. Seeking to have a closer look at the Peacekeeper, Toby enters the same room as the robot, only for the Peacekeeper's first attempt to destroy the barrier to backfire with the result that Toby is totally annihilated. After the Peacekeeper is stopped by security forces, Dr. Tenma, wracked with despair, builds an identical robotic clone of Toby, using DNA from a strand of his hair to obtain his memories, which will make the robot think he is Toby. He also powers the robot with the positive blue core. The robot quickly comes to life, and Tenma brings him home.
Tenma quickly realizes that while the robot possesses Toby's memories, it is not exactly like his original son, as the robot's higher mental and physical powers frequently remind him. Tenma had initially included the robot's powers in order to prevent his "son" from being destroyed again. Unaware that he is a robot, Toby tries to figure out why he can understand the language of some robot cleaners and discovers he can fly via rocket-boosters hidden in his shoes. He discovers various other abilities and heads home to tell his father, only to find that Tenma and Elefun are discussing deactivating him. Tenma reveals to Toby that he is a robot. President Stone's men detect the Blue Core's energy signature and pursue Toby. Stone calls in the Spirit of Freedom: a massive, heavily armed, flying battleship. Rendered unconscious, Toby falls off the floating city and lands in the junkyard below. He meets several children including Cora, a girl who left Metro City after her parents neglected her, and a robotic dog named Trashcan. Toby meets the Robot Revolution Front: Sparx, Robotsky and Mike the Fridge, who easily identify Toby as a robot and rename him "Astro". Astro goes along with his new name and lives with the children and their fatherly figure, Hamegg, who appears to care for broken robots, but secretly treats robots just as callously as Stone, and also runs the Robot Games: destructive gladiatorial matches in which robots are forced to fight to the death.
Astro and his friends find an offline construction robot named ZOG, and Astro secretly revives ZOG. The kids bring him back and clean him up for the Hamegg games. Later that night, Astro comes across Cora trying to call Metrocity. She reveals to him that she actually has parents and was worried if they even missed her. Astro promises not to tell and tries to tell her his secret but can't. The next day at the Hamegg games, Hamegg betrays Astro, learning of him being a robot, and pits Astro against other robots in the Robot Games. Unable to simply leave, Astro reluctantly destroys all the robots. Hamegg releases ZOG for Astro to fight, but both refuse to fight one another. Stone and his men arrive then and arrest Astro. They take him back to the Ministry of Science, where Tenma is asked to remove the Blue Core; however, at the last moment, he has a change of heart, accepting that even if Astro isn't Toby, he's still his son, and allows Astro to escape. Stone places the Red Core into the Peacekeeper again, only for it to absorb him and take on his consciousness. Astro and Stone fight across the city, demolishing most of the buildings and causing the city to begin crashing to Earth. Astro is able to slow Metro City's decent by flying underneath and pushing upwards with his leg-rockets. Cora, the other children, and the Robot Revolution try to help to bring down the Peacekeeper/Stone fusion. Stone catches Astro and is about to absorb him, but when the Blue and Red Cores clash, he lets Astro out due to the close proximity of the two Cores causing him great pain.
Astro lands in a building, where he reunites with Tenma. Tenma tells him that if the Blue Core and Red Core come together, Astro and the Peacekeeper will both die. Astro decides that this was the reason he was made, and flies straight toward Stone, crashing into him and merging the Cores which destroys the Peacekeeper and frees Stone (who is knocked out from the collision). However, with both Cores drained of energy, Astro is deactivated. Cora, Dr. Elefun and others find Astro's body. ZOG transfers some of his Blue Core energy (which Astro kindly gave him) to Astro; with the catalyst restarted, the Blue Core once more becomes a limitless source of energy, so Astro is easily revived and his wounds automatically heal. Astro is reunited with Dr. Tenma, and Cora finds and makes up with her parents. Stone awakes, only to be arrested by his own troops. When an alien life-form appears over the city, the movie ends with Astro flying up to battle it.
Astro’s weapons in the movie have been changed or altered when compared to the other series. Astro has machine guns on his backside like in the 1980s series, however this time they fire actual bullets, instead of lasers. His finger lasers “digibeam” is absent. Instead of the arm cannon in the 2003 series, it is changed to full arm blasters in both arms. Also, his arm rockets are absent, although his arm cannons can also serve as a means of propulsion. In the 1980s series, Astro’s eyes act as lights, while in the 2003 series they allow him to analyze things. However, in the film, they are also lights, although they can see through skin or tissue intimidating skin, much like a X-ray. Also, Astro retains his super hearing and strength, as well as rockets in his feet.
Another difference is Astro’s source of power. In the original series, he is powered by atoms (hence his Japanese name), but yet in the film he is powered by the Blue Core Energy, made out of pure positive energy. It is unknown as to why the writers changed his power source. Also, this is the first time that Uran does not appear at all.
The movie was a failure in Japan for deviating too much from Tezuka's story telling.
Powers and abilities
Astro Boy has several capabilities and abilities, as well as weapons, to aid him on his adventures. Note that these powers differ slightly from series to series. They include:
- The ability to translate more than 60 languages (excluding 2003, film and video game)
- Strength equivalent to 100,000 horsepower (75 MW)
- The ability to fly using jets in his legs and arms
- Amplification of his hearing up to one thousand times
- Guns deployed from his posterior (excluding 2003 series)
- Invulnerability to most forms of physical injury
- An electro-heart that can discern people's criminal intentions (excluding 2003, 1980 and film)
- Bright eye-lamps to assist his vision (references to additional x-ray ability in the film and 60's series)
- Laser guns in his finger tips (excluding film)
- Laser cannons in his arms (2003 series and film only)
- An extremely accurate electronic brain
Despite his abilities and work for good, Astro is often ostracized by the human race for being a robot, mostly out of fear. Since he is not officially considered a citizen, he often has to deal with the prejudice of humans against robots. In turn, in some episodes the robots eventually also rebel against the humans. The majority of the series contains a story arc which concerns robot rights.
As part of the Osamu Tezuka's Star System, Astro has appeared in several of the artist's works (although he is not always identified as "Astro Boy").
List of Astro Boy's appearances
- "Astro Boy" in Captain Atom - 1951
- "Astro Boy" in Astro Boy - 1952
- "Conference Participant" in The Adventure of Rock - 1952
- "Sergeant Ichinotani" in X-Point on the South Pacific - 1953
- "Ryoichi" in The Destroyer of the Earth - 1954
- "Captain Larry" in My Memory - 1959
- "Astro Boy" in Shikuoyamaengi Picture Scroll - 1962
- "The Mask" in Robot Labor Union Leader - 1964
- "Astro Boy" in Gachaboi's Record of One Generation - 1970
- "Astro Boy" in Lion Books: A Hundred Tales - Chapter of Gold - 1971
- "The Mask" in Bakaichi - 1971
- "The Mask" in Japanese People in 1972 - 1972
- "Flying Man Competition Spectator" in Black Jack: Man Bird - 1973
- "Isao" in Black Jack: Son of Shiva - 1974
- "Black Jack's Client" in Black Jack: You did it! - 1975
- "Person in Framed Painting" in Black Jack: Teruteru Bozu - 1976
- "Astro Boy" in The Three-eyed One: The Magician - 1976
- "Passerby" in Black Jack: Black Jack Saves his Savior - 1978
- "Astro Boy" in Osamu Tezuka on American Comics - 1979
- "Person in Painting" in Unico: Shogaku-Ichinensei Version - 1980
- "Face of Jinnai" in Princess Lumpenela - 1980
- "Jimmy" in Rainbow Parakeet: House of Doll - 1981
- "The Mask" in Rainbow Parakeet: Forest of Fossil - 1981
- "Black Jack" in How the World of Anime will look in the 21st Century - 1982
- "Astro Boy" in A word from the parent who bore you - 1982
- "Jimmy" in Golden Bat - 1982
- "Astro Boy" in Rabbit House 2001 - 1982
- "Person in Painting" in This is what's going to happen in 1983 - 1983
- "Astro Boy" in Dream cars & cars of the future - 1984
- "Astro Boy" in Atom Cat - 1986
- "The Mask" in Fuku-chan in 21st Century - 1986
- "Adam" in Undersea Super Train: Marine Express - 1979 anime
- He also make several cameos in Black Jack TV
- "Pluto" Chapter 9
- Astro has also made a cameo in two episodes of Kimba the White Lion
- "Monica Teen" Chapter 43 and 44 (Green Treasure arc)
Astro was listed on Empire magazine's 50 Greatest Comic Characters list ranking forty third, making Astro the only manga character on the list. IGN's Chris Mackenzie also ranked Astro Boy as 2 on the list of the top anime characters of all time. Astro was placed tenth Mania Entertainment's 10 Most Iconic Anime Heroes written by Thomas Zoth who commented that "he was Japan's first great modern cartoon hero, on the printed page and the TV screen".
- "Astro Boy: A Japanese Citizen?". Anime News Network. 2003-03-20. Retrieved 2007-07-01.
- 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). ISBN 1-56971-676-5.
- 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). ISBN 1-56971-676-5.
- Schodt, Frederik L. "Introduction." Astro Boy Volume 1 (Comic by Osamu Tezuka). Dark Horse Comics and Studio Proteus. Page 2 of 3 (The introduction section has 3 pages). ISBN 1-56971-676-5.
- "Empire – The 50 Greatest Comic Book Characters". www.empireonline.com. Retrieved 2009-02-08.
- Chris Mackenzie (2009-10-20). "Top 25 Anime Characters of All Time". IGN. Retrieved 2011-04-09.
- Zoth, Thomas (January 12, 2010). "10 Most Iconic Anime Heroes". Mania Entertainment. Retrieved January 22, 2010.