Astro Boy (アストロボーイ・鉄腕アトム Asutoro Bōi Tetsuwan Atomu?, lit. "Astro Boy: Mighty Atom") is a remake of the 1960s anime series of the same name created by Osamu Tezuka, which was produced by his company, Tezuka Productions, and the anime television network, Animax, who have broadcast the series across its respective networks worldwide, including Japan, Southeast Asia, South Asia, East Asia, and other regions. Although, in this series, it didn't show cruel Dr.Tenma creating him.
The time is the year 2043.
In 2003, a new Astro Boy anime series was created to celebrate the birth date of Astro Boy (as well as the 40th anniversary of the 1963 series). Under the original English name (instead of Tetsuwan Atom), it kept the same classic art style as the original Astro Boy manga and anime, but was revisioned and modernized with more lush, high-quality, near-theatrical animation and visuals. It combined the playfulness of the early anime with the darker, more serious and dramatic Science Fiction themes of the manga and the '80s anime. The anime broadcast in Japan (on the same date as Astro's birth in the manga, April 7, 2003) across Animax and Fuji Television, with lots of fanfare. It was directed by Kazuya Konaka and written by Chiaki J. Konaka. When Astro boy 2003 was created Osamu Tezuka died so another artist drew Astro boy.
Though many episodes of the series can be regarded as "free-standing" in as much as they do not have anything to do with the series major story arcs, the 2003 series can be regarded as having a well-defined beginning, middle and end. Although the series appears to initially have two main plotlines (Dr. Tenma's eventual plans for Astro to evolve and another plotline about robot rights), these two story arcs dovetail toward the end of the series.
The show was eventually picked up by Sony Pictures Entertainment. However, Kids' WB picked up the broadcasting rights and began airing the show in the U.S. in early 2004. Fans balked at the dub, as the original music score, composed by Takashi Yoshimatsu, was changed and the show was given an uneven scheduling. It was bounced back and forth between Kids WB and Cartoon Network until it was eventually cancelled. TOM, the host of Toonami, the block that aired the show on the Cartoon Network even made a joke during his review of the video game tie in, Astro Boy: Omega Factor that "Astro has no love here in the States." This could easily be viewed as Williams Street's view of the situation as anime fans with their hands tied by red tape in regards to the situation of being allowed to air the show.
The entire series is currently available on DVD in one single boxset. However, the US set is not fully complete, with one episode in the set being omitted called "Eternal Boy" and replaced with a clip show episode. The order of episodes on the set is the syndication-released order, which is different from the Japanese order, evidenced by characters such as Astro's sister, Zoran, showing up in episodes before they were introduced. This DVD set also has a short feature about the show's development that heavily hints at pressure put on the anime developers by Sony to make Astro more of a hero than a boy. This is reflected in the dub as scenes where Astro has emotional moments or where he is acting childlike are cut or the script is changed to Astro acting with a "cooler" or more heroic attitude. That said, the later episodes of the dub do follow along the same lines as the Japanese script. The series is also available on iTunes.
The series, however, had more success in the UK where it was picked up by the BBC for its children's block and digital only Children's channel from 2003 to 2006. The show's first run lasted about as long as the US one (up to the 2-part episode featuring Pluto) after which the BBC stopped airing new episodes. This may be because (as one presenter commented after an episode) Astro was a darker show compared to the other cartoons CBBC aired (even in its edited state). The western dub has never been aired fully on TV in the US. Despite how well Astro may have fared in the UK airing and DVDs being advertised, the series has not been released on DVD in the UK. Interestingly enough, CBBC finished airing recently unaired episodes of Astro Boy, thus completing the entire series in the UK, making Astro Boy one of the rare anime that airs in the UK in its entirety while not doing so in the United States.
The series was also a success with Arabic speaking viewers when it aired on MBC 3 several times along another anime remake that faced the same fate in America, Cyborg 009.
A trailer from 2001 made for this series when it was in development presented several major differences from the final series: different designs for characters such as Atlas, the characters speaking in English (with voices completely different from the voices that would eventually end up in the US dub) and animation not found in the final series.
Note: This is the episodes in the correct sequential order (Japanese), due to the fact that when America was dubbing the show, they did the dubbing (for the most part) in an unsequential order.
Episode 1: Power Up!-Dr. O'Shay, head of the Ministry of Science, activates a dormant, but powerful, robot that he dubs Astro Boy (Atom in the Japanese version) by using all of Metro City's power. Unfortunately, the ensuing power surge accidentally overloads Magnamite, an octopus-like robot that serves as Metro City's power-controller (though the overload is only hinted at). To make matters worse, the power surge was planned by Dr. Tenma, the former Minister of Science and Astro's creator, who did all this to start a rigorous series of tests for Astro. The next morning, Dr. O'Shay tries to show some fellow scientists how amazing Astro is, but they are unimpressed and leave. Dr. O'Shay's secretary, Ms. Yuko, then drags Dr. O'Shay away to answer phone calls, leaving Nora (Astro's robot nanny) to teach Astro. Astro, however, becomes more interested in the local airships that fly through the city, and slips up to the roof through a ventilation shaft. Elsewhere, Magnamite begins to malfunction, and, after killing a few maintenance robots, breaks free of its storage area and begins a rampage of the city. Meanwhile, Dr. O'Shay is visited by Detective Tawashi, a leader of the Metro City police with a severe dislike of robots (the reason why is never explained). He asks Dr. O'Shay about the power outage, but O'Shay tries to keep quiet about it. O'Shay tries to convince Tawashi of Astro's good intent, but that fails when Astro unintentionally falls off the roof (having tried to chase one of the airships). Astro discovers his ability of flight and explores some of Metro City where he meets a little girl and her father, both of whom become quick fans of Astro, as well as some local construction robots that inform him of a robot's purpose. Meanwhile, Dr. O'Shay and Detective Tawashi are combing the city to find Astro (Dr. O'Shay plans to save him; Detective Tawashi, however, plans to capture him). On his search for Astro, Dr. O'Shay ends up being attacked by Magnamite, but Astro saves him after Astro intercepts a call for help from Dr. O'Shay (Astro having discovered his ability to hear things others cannot). After saving Dr. O'Shay, Astro follows the fleeing Magnamite through an underground tunnel. Tawashi calls in the local army to try and stop Magnamite, but their weapons only worsen Magnamite's rage, and continue to create a building mass of energy that, if left unchecked, could cause the whole city to explode. Astro appears to be destroyed after being crushed by Magnamite (false deaths of Astro become a temporary staple of the series), but he defeats Magnamite (who was never trying to hurt anyone, but was really crying out in pain, as Astro discovers when he learns of his ability to understand binary code). Astro saves him from overloading by absorbing a large amount of his energy, saving Metro City from certain destruction and landing himself on the path to becoming a hero in the process (the fight against Magnamite was being broadcast across Metro City). After earning a thank-you from Magnamite and returning him to his home, Astro flies off (with his body releasing his excess energy from Magnamite as light, hence his name), claiming to Dr. O'Shay that he has "finally found his purpose"; his adventures, however, are just beginning, because Tenma has many plans left up his sleeve.
Episode 2: Rocket Ball-The championship series of "Rocket Ball", Metro City's version of football, is fast underway. While learing about rules from Dr. O'Shay, Astro unintentionally breaks the game's rules by stepping into the very first game of the season, receiving unwanted attention from both the local press and Harley, (the leader and star player of Team Omega, who happens to be the best Rocket Ball team) who isn't happy about Astro's interference. Later, at the Ministry of Science, the local press question as to why Astro interrupted the game. Dr. O'Shay tries to explain Astro's more unique abilities to the press, but fails. This failure is reinforced by an unexpected visit by Detective Tawashi, who has figured out that Astro is not really Dr. O'Shay's creation. He reminds O'Shay of Dr. Tenma, who had supposedly gone insane after he had created Astro, having set the Ministry of Science ablaze and disappeared, going to work underground soon afterwards. O'Shay tries to tell Tawashi that Astro is his own robot, to which Tawashi responds "That may not be such a good thing". The next day, Astro is sent on a field trip with Nora to learn more about humans. Unfortunately, Tenma sets up his next test for Astro on exactly the same day. Using a pair of mind-controlling sunglasses, Tenma takes over Harley, along with the rest of Team Omega, so that he may test Astro's abilities further. During his field trip, Astro makes friends with Nicholas, a boy that shares a love of Rocket Ball, and even plays a game of Rocket Ball with him, so that he can learn the basics. After scoring for his team, Astro and Nicholas find the ball has been stolen by a robot dog (in reality, one of Tenma's attack dogs, who also serves as a transmitter device). Following the dog, Astro and Nicholas end up in the Rocket Ball arena. Tenma offers his challenge to Astro: defeat Harley, or everyone in the stadium will be killed. Astro accepts, joining Team Delta (Team Omega's rival). Astro beats Team Omega in a game of Rocket Ball (even when Tenma has Team Omega kill all of Delta's players, leaving Astro to play alone), but Tenma still has one last trick up his sleeve: He has all of Team Omega combine into a "Mega-Harley", which tries to smash Astro. Astro, with help from Dr. O'Shay, destroys the glasses and helps Harley return to sanity. Astro becomes a city-wide hero, but Tenma escapes onboard his dog, leaving to craft plots for later.
Episode 3: Destination Deimos-A robot-commanding human foreman is busy working at Deimos, one of the two moons/asteroids of Mars that has been turned into a mining area, when his diggers go nuts and cause the command center to begin to fall into a large pit. Meanwhile, back on Earth, Dr. O'Shay is called in to lead a team and to take a look at what is occurring on Deimos. Astro, curious as to what outer space is like, decides to stow away onboard the ship. Dr. O'Shay, however, finds him in the cargo bay, after being informed that there was a sudden change to the weight of his cargo. O'Shay then lectures Astro, but forgives the lad for his mistake, on the condition that he not do something so dangerous again. They soon land, and Astro discovers another ability of his: rocket arms. Astro saves the foreman (with help from the robots), reporting what he has found to the doctor. Dr. O'Shay's group plans to investigate the robots' bizzare behavior, but they have an unexpected intruder in their little visit to Deimos: A military officer, with guard-bots for back-up. Claiming that the robots are dangerous, he plans to destroy them, but grants Astro and the others an hour to see why the diggers were tunneling so deeply. Astro and company, however, lose what remains of their hour when the guard-bots (who the officer claimed were unwavering in their loyalty) refuse to listen to his commands, and attempt to leave him. The officer, having an over-reaction to the situation, attempts to go and destroy the robots personally, but Astro stops him. At the bottom of the large pit, Astro finds the cause of the robots' sudden behavior change: a large block of crystal that had trapped someone underneath (which caused their "savior" circuitry to activate). Astro learns of another ability: the finger laser, which he uses to cut the rock apart with. Astro finds the person that was trapped was, in fact, an alien. The alien invites Astro to a world like nobody has ever seen, but he declines, saying he has a family to care for. The alien leaves, writing a message into Deimos that states "One day, man and robot will be equals".
Episode 4: Into Thin Air-A local Metro City museum is robbed by what is believed to be a ghost, leaving the night watchman scared stiff, and the local populace afraid to go to the museum. In reality, however, it was a robot with optical shields (invisibility powers) named Denkou (created by Dr. Emil) that was recently stolen by Skunk, a notorious criminal. Detective Tawashi comes to ask Astro to join in the investigation, but Dr. O'Shay has sent him to school. Detective Tawashi becomes concerned, but Dr. O'Shay states that Astro needs the "human experience" (since he doesn't quite understand humans yet). At school, Astro is introduced to the 4th grade class. The local bully, Abercrombie, doesn't think so much of Astro joining the school's students, but Kennedy (a more friendly student, and a typical, well-mannered gentleman) approves of Astro's coming to school. Astro soons makes friends with Alejo (a nerd that is very impressed with Astro) and Kennedy after they promise to bring Astro up to speed on the lessons. Alejo forgets his school bag in the classroom, so he returns to get it. Someone gives it to him, but Alejo finds that there is nobody else in the room. In another room, the teacher activates "History Module 427", which is a holographic lesson of the 16th century. Astro proves amazed by the accuracy and the design, but during the lesson, Abercrombie has a close encounter with a supposed "ghost". The "ghost" scares the whole class, leaving Abercrombie cowering in fear, and the teacher is forced to shut down the lesson. Later, after school, Abercrombie becomes friends with Astro (claiming that he never liked ghosts, which is why they're "after him", thus his ask for protection from Astro), and Astro (along with his friends from school) finally meet Denkou, who is, in actuality, a child robot (as opposed to the other versions of him in past versions of the TV series). Denkou apologizes for his behavior, and explains that he was merely hanging out at school, but became interested by the school lesson, since he has a love for sailing. Hearing this, Alejo invites everybody to his house for the unveiling of his mechanical masterpiece: a large sail-bike for five called the "Skyrider", capable of flight. Sadly, it's too heavy to get off the ground (Alejo claims someone would have to peddle at least 1,000,000 MPH to get any lift). Still, the quintet try and, thanks due to Astro, the Sky Riders are formed, consisting of: Kennedy, Alejo, Abercrombie, Astro and Denkou. Later that afternoon, Alejo points out "Metro-Fest", a big celebration that is going to occur tomorrow. Alejo suggests they all go, and they agree. Everyone heads home, save for Denkou and Astro. When asked where he lives, Denkou claims he can't say. Astro is confused by Denkou's mysterious nature, but gets a clue as to why this is when Denkou mentions Skunk. Later that night, Denkou commits another robbery and, due to the fact that he has no sense of justice, has no regret for his actions. Meanwhile, Astro learns from Nora that Skunk is a master thief, who specializes in turning perfectly nice robots into thieves. Later, Denkou visits Astro with some jewels he stole from the museum, claiming he "got them in a game". Astro tries to teach Denkou right from wrong, but fails and accidentally hurts Denkou's feelings. Detective Tawashi sees the whole thing, and plans to capture Denkou at his next heist (which Denkou told Astro about), where he is going to steal the crown of King Solomon. Back at Skunk's hideout, Denkou is tricked by Skunk into thinking that he's telling the truth (claiming that Astro was merely envious of Denkou being a "good" child). Skunk's goons, Nooj and Raff, consider calling off the heist, but Skunk plans to go on with the heist, claiming that he "likes a challenge". Skunk also states his plans to dispose of Deknou, once he acquires the crown. The next morning, Astro and his friends formulate a plan to stop Denkou, so that they can try to talk him out of the life of a criminal. They head toward the museum during Metro-Fest, unaware that Detective Tawashi has set a trap for Denkou and has tracked Astro and his friends. Astro and his friends manage to stop Denkou temporarily, but Denkou ends up facing Tawashi and his men, who can see Denkou even when he's invisible (thanks due to the archlights that Tawashi brought in). Astro tries to get Tawashi to not hurt Denkou, but all hope of that fails when Denkou shows a "guard belt" that Skunk gave him to protect him. Scanning it, Astro finds it's really an electromagnetic pulse bomb, strong enough to shut down all of Metro City. Denkou, thinking that Astro has betrayed him, tries to run off, saying Skunk was "going to do something nice for him" in exchange for the crown. The chase begins, but Denkou gives Solomon's Crown over to Skunk. Skunk, being the backstabber that he is, not only goes back on his promise to let Denkou go to school with his friends, but he also activates the bomb, leaving Denkou to an explosive death, as he makes an escape in his get-away car. Astro and his friends concentrate on finding Denkou so they can save him (as the armed military working with Tawashi set out to destroy Denkou), while Tawashi attempts to stop Skunk, who warns that the bomb goes off in an hour. Denkou becomes extremly frightened because of the night's events, and eventually sits down under a bridge in a fit of depression, waiting for the bomb to explode. With only 5 minutes left, Astro quickly forms a plan by waving the flag of the Skyriders on the top of the clocktower during the fireworks, to get Denkou to head towards the clocktower. With just a minute until the bomb explodes, Astro saves Denkou from the troops and the bomb, throwing it far into the air and creating quite an explosion (which the people believe is a massive firework). With Denkou saved, the kids celebrate, returning Denkou to his rightful owner, Dr. Emil, the next day. Denkou's school friends see him off, giving him the flag of the Skyriders as a gift. With Denkou safe, Astro and his friends wave a fond farewell to Denkou, as he heads home with Dr. Emil.
- Astro: A robot built with "Kokoro", an advanced form of artificial intelligence. Astro appears as a young boy who works as a superhero of sorts for Metro City. He continuously tries to stop the collapsing relationship between mankind and robots, despite numerous attempts to destroy him by various parties. He can fly using rocket boosters concealed in his limbs and possesses great strength. Astro was originally constructed by Doctor Tenma to recreate his deceased son Tobio, but Astro rebelled against Tenma when he saw how robots were brutally destroyed in an area of the Ministry of Science and was shut down by his "father". (Note: "Kokoro" is actually Japanese for "heart".)
- Doctor O'Shay: Head of the Ministry of Science, Dr. O'Shay is an elderly man with a distinguishable large nose. He led the project to revive Astro and is his guardian and protector. O'Shay, like Astro, is very defensive of the relationship between mankind and robots, often defending Astro when he is accused of being dangerous to Metro City. He is portrayed as being a bit clumsy and quick to anger, but is very intelligent and compassionate.
- Doctor Nagamiya Tenma: A former scientist who worked in the Ministry of Science, and the main antagonist of the show. Dr. Tenma intends for Astro to become the leader of robots and motions Astro to get stronger throughout the series. He originally had a son named Tobio, but he died whilst trying to stop machines that destroy the robots. Tenma was devastated but created Astro to replace his son, but exactly the same event occurred, causing Tenma to go quite mad and shutdown Astro before developing his plan to see robots conquer the world with Astro as their leader.
- Zoran: Astro's younger sister, constructed by Dr. O'Shay with the same AI technology seen in Astro. She shows the ability to talk to animals and understand their languages, befriending a bird who she names Houdini. She has a rather excitable personality, but at times envies Astro for the amount of attention he receives and is overemotional at times too, but she also looks up to and protects her brother.
- Yuko: Doctor O'Shay's assistant. She often fuses over him and repeatedly reminds him of schedules he must keep to. She is assisted by a flamingo-like robot named Momo.
- Detective Tawashi: A police inspector who has a large nose resembling a shoe brush. While at first he shows a distrust towards robots in general, he grows to trust those closest to him, including his own robotic partner Delta, and Astro. He often banters with Dr. O'Shay in arguments.
- Reno: A close human friend of Astro. He originally started off in a robot circus where he disguised himself as a robot to avoid being separated from the other robotic performers whom he saw as his family. He becomes a student of Dr. O'Shay's and becomes quite skilled around robotics, but still maintains his acrobatic skills from the circus.
- The Blue Knight: A gallant anti-hero of sorts who was badly treated by humans and was rebuilt by Dr. Tenma and Shadow to act as a catalyst to boost Astro's power. He instead decided to wage war against mankind to bring freedom to robots. He dresses in blue armour and rides a white horse, his main weapon being a laser-based lance of sorts. He ultimately builds a robotic empire towards the end of the series.
- Epsilon: A female robot who has the ability to alter the weather around her. She is very protective of the environment and all lifeforms other than mankind and robots. She is closely allied to Astro and his peaceful intentions.
- Shadow: A highly intelligent robot created by Dr. Tenma to help him make Astro stronger. He wore a mask over his face for most of the season, eventually revealing his face after some reconstruction to be based on Dr. Tenma's.
- Mr. Drake: The secondary antagonist of the series. Drake is a politician who deeply hates robots, particularly robots with AI. He grows more paranoid over the course of the series, haunted by memories of a robot he knew in the past whom he considered his friend but drove him to his hatred for machines.
- Skunk: A recurring villain who uses robots to commit various crimes, showing no concern and care for the robots he uses.
- Atlas: A robot constructed by Dr. Tenma similarly to Astro, built for a man named Tokogawa. Atlas is a clone of Tokogawa's deceased son Daichi, and has his memories. Atlas is a very destructive robot but maintains Daichi's dream of seeing Earth from space, which he eventually achieves unintentionally with Tokogawa. He floats away into space and returns as a recurring character.
- Pluto: A powerful combat-based robot built by Shadow to challenge Astro and other robots including Epsilon and Delta. He gains emotions and befriends Astro and Zoran, and commits suicide to save the two from a clone of him, plunging into a volcano. However, he is rebuilt later on in the series.
- Makoto Tsumura: Atom
- Shinya Owada: Nagamiya Tenma
- Hisashi Katsuta: Professor Ochanomizu
- Banjou Ginga: Police Inspector Tawashi
- Akiko Kawase: Yuko Kisaragi
- Akio Ōtsuka: Pluto
- Kazuki Yao: Skunk Kusai
- Miki Maruyama Uran
- Miyoko Shoji: Helen
- Motoko Kumai: Tamao
- Naoki Tatsuta: Robita
- Nobuyuki Hiyama: Atlas
- Rie Kugimiya: Nyanko
- Susumu Chiba: Shibugaki
- Yuu Urata: official/clerk
- Yuuko Satou: Kenichi
English dub cast
- Candi Milo: Astro, Kennedy/Kenichi
- Dorian Harewood: Dr. Nagamiya Tenma, Shadow
- Wally Wingert: Dr. O'Shay/Ochanomizu, Skunk, Blue Knight, Wally Kisagari, Katari, Harley, Kato, Additional Voices
- Bill Farmer: Detective Tawashi
- David Rasner: Pluto
- Faith Salie: Yuko
- Greg Cipes: Daichi/Atlas
- Jennifer Darling: Nora/Robita
- Jonathan Todd Ross: Mechanic #2 (eps.9)
- Lara Jill Miller: Alejo/Tamao, Mimi
- Maile Flanagan: Matthew
- Sandy Martin: Abercrombie/Shibugaki
- Susan Blu: Zoran/Uran
- Dave Wittenberg
- Gregg Berger
- "True Blue" by Zone
- "Now or Never" by Chemistry meets M-Flo
- "Boy's Heart" by Fujii Fumiya
- "Tetsuwan Atomu" (A remixed version of the 60's series' theme song.)
- "Astro Boy Theme" by William Anderson
- "True Blue" by Rainie Yang, cover version of the Japanese one
- "滿天飛" by Candy Lo, Cantonese cover version of "True Blue"
The 2003 version of Astro Boy was extremely well reviewed by Zac Bertschy of Anime News Network, receiving a grade of A+ in every category and comments of "It's perfect." The series has been received with mix reviews by most of the large fan-base community of Tezuka. Despite the largely darker tones in the second arc and the overall changes made to the Western dub it has been criticized for not having the same optimistic tone of the color 80's version of the series and eliminating several or changing the personalities of several major characters.
The show did not meet with commercial success on ether KidsWB or CartoonNetwork's Toonami block, a fact that is hinted at during the review for the tie-in game Astro Boy: Omega Factor with comments such as "Astro Boy [didn't receive any] love here in the states". This has been largely attributed to the quality of the Dub and the constant moving of the show between the two stations. Its been suggested the show was done in by removing the original's comical co-stars, particularly Mr. Pompous and Astro Boy's robot parents. That, plus the general switch of the show's visuals from childish simplistic to near 3-D complexity, and the name changes for so many of the main characters (Astro Girl=Zoran, Dr. Elefun=Dr. O'Shay) were deemed by the older fans to be unnecessary for a formerly plot-driven show.
- "FOR YOUNG VIEWERS; An Icon of Animation and His Atomic-Powered Adventures Boy'". New York Times. 2004-02-08. Retrieved 2010-08-12.
- "Astro Boy: The Complete Series". DVD Talk. Retrieved 2010-10-22.
- "RETURN OF THE RISING SON WB 'Astro Boy' based on first anime series". New York Daily News. Retrieved 2010-10-21.
- "Japanese Anime, Astro Boy, Takes Flight Again". Sun Sentinel. Retrieved 2010-10-21.
- Bertschy, Zac (2003-06-06). "Astro Boy (2003) review". Anime News Network. Retrieved 2007-02-10.
- Breznican, Anthony (2009-07-21). "Astro Boy will fly into theaters in a blast from cartoon past[[USA Today]]". Retrieved 2009-07-24. URL–wikilink conflict (help)
- Astro Boy (2003 TV series) at YouTube
- Astro Boy 2003 anime page at TezukaOsamu@World (Japanese)
- BBC's Astro Boy website
- Animax's official website (Japanese)
- Astro Boy at the Internet Movie Database
- Astroboy at Tv.com