Astroboy was called Tetsuwan Atom in Japan. The black and white series was created,
animated and produced by Osamu Tezuka (1928-1989) through his own company named Mushi
Productions. Tezuka, like his father, was a qualified doctor of medicine but was more
interested in drawing. Astroboy was a successful comic strip in Japan in the 50s. It
was released in Japan between 1963 - 1966 and was shown on Melbourne TV in April 1966 at
5.30pm Sunday's on channel 0.The tv week described it as "Cartoon adventure series
about a youngster in the 21st century."
In Brazil, Astroboy was called "Marte, o Menino Bi˘nico"-Mars, the Bionic Boy("Sergio Martorelli" <firstname.lastname@example.org> ).
It was the first animated TV series to be produced in Japan and after becoming a worldwide hit, Japanese cartoons began to flood the market with the release of other successful series' such as Gigantor, 8th man and Prince Planet. The large oval eyes became the standard for most other Japanese cartoons. 193 episodes were produced, but only 104 of them were redubbed and shown on TV outside Japan.
The voice of Astroboy and Astrogirl was Billie Lou Watt (died 2001, married to and survived by Hal Studer who also was part of the dubbing cast on Kimba). Billie was a female, not a male as many people believe. She later went on to be Kimba and Jimmy Sparks from Gigantor. The voice of Dr Elefun was Cliff Owen who also played Inspector Blooper from Gigantor and Danl Baboon from Kimba. Gilbert Mack was the voice of Mr Pompos as well as Dick Strong from Gigantor and Pauley Cracker from Kimba.
Peter Fernandez wrote more than half of the English scripts and many others were written by the voice cast members. Peter was paid $100 to $125 per episode - the same fee that he was later paid by Fred Ladd for Gigantor.
Fred Ladd directed the English version and wrote some of the scripts. Ladd said that "Astro Boy began with Mushi's #1, and generally stayed in Mushi's sequence, but we had to reject 6 of their shows, for various reasons: one dealt with vivisection (unacceptable here as kids' content at the time); one dealt with a bachelor who had pictures of nude women hanging on his walls; one ('Christ's Eyeballs') dealt with a criminal hiding out in a church and scratching a secret message to his cohorts on the eyeballs of a statuette of Christ, (in Buddhist Japan, nobody at the studio objected)."
In 1982 a coloured version was released and shown in Melbourne throughout the 80s. In 1996 it was shown here on cable TV. Many of these episodes are available on video in Pal format through Siren Entertainment and are still enjoyed by young children today.
The series begins with the death of Dr Boyntons (a robotics engineer) son Aster (Toby in the new series) in a car accident set in the year 2000 (help with some character names from Dave Sternberg). He makes a robot in his sons image, but disappointed that hes not a real boy he disowns him, and he is sold to a robot circus and here is named Astroboy. The ringmaster Cachatore (Hamegg in the new series) treats him cruelly, but he is later rescued by Dr Elefun (large nose and two puffs of hair on the sides of his head) who is against slavery of robots. Under his guidance, Astroboy embarks on adventures, fighting anything that threatens mankind. Astroboy can fly using jet rocket propulsion; has weapons including a lazer and machine gun, and has emotions.
Astroboy, like most of the other robots, lives by the robot law that orders robots to help mankind by doing whats good.
Other characters in the series included Mr Pompous who was a friend of Dr Elefuns (renamed Daddy Walrus in the coloured series because of his long moustache), Astrogirl (named Uran in the colour series) made by Dr Elefun as Astroboys sister. Astroboys bigger brother was named Jetto. He was stored away in the warehouse of the Science Academy and was created by Dr. Boynton as a prototype of Astroboy.
One of Astroboys main enemies is Atlas who was a boy robot but was rebuilt into a highly intelligent and powerful robot.
Daddy Walrus is sometimes a secret agent and in some episodes is also Judo Expert (as this fact is demonstrated in the Blackie Young episode). He retains the boastful loudmouth qualities of Mr. Pompous but actually is portayed in the new series as a courageous individual as opposed to a
cowardly braggard in the older Astroboy series.
The Dr. Elefant character in the New Astroboy is a somewhat less of a scholar and actually more of a foolish "Absent Minded professor", rather than the learned man that we see heading up "The Institute of Science". (Info on Daddy Walrus from Dave Sternberg)
Some of the episodes include Funnel To The Future" where Astroboy, Astrogirl and Dr Elefun are sent 70 000 years into the future; Mystery Of The Metal Men where Astroboy is blown away into a parallel world and Gangor The Monster where 46 wrestling robots join together to form a giant centipede. The Lost Episode titled The Beast from 20 Fathoms was created in 1963. 2 copies were made . The Japanese version was destroyed as Osamu Tezuka was unhappy with it. The other copy was sent to America for dubbing and is the only version that exists today.
The following information is written by Mark Cannon from Canberra Australia who has
picked up some interesting points after watching Astroboy episodes again after nearly 30
"Amazing the detail you aren't aware of as a kid; for example, though I saw "Funnel To The Future" several times in my youth, it was only this time that I recognised the similarilies to HG Wells' "The Time Machine"; mankind vanished, a huge museum / mausoleum to man, two divergent, diametrically opposed races in the plant people and the animal people (echoing the Eloi and the Morlocks) and, closest of all Astro Boy befriending a plant person by pulling her from the river, in which she was drowning while her fellows looked on apathetically - just as Wells' Time Traveller rescued Weena the Eloi in identical circumstances. Very cleverly done.
In "Invasion Of The Metal Men", I had forgotten that it utilised the concept of parallel universes; a complicated concept for children to grasp (and we didn't have "Sliders" to demonstrate it every week!) but it explained the concept in a wonderfully simple way by comparing it to "Two sides of a single sheet of paper".
In the episode "Mission to the Middle of the World", Astroboy, Astrogirl
and the journalist travelling with them come across an underground race, descended
survivors of Atlantis, who appear to call themselves "deros". This got my memory
working, and I did a little research.
Back in the mid-1940s, "Amazing Stories", the pulp SF magazine (the very first, dating form 1926, and about to be revived after a few years of non-publication) published a lot of stories by a guy called Richard S Shaver. They weren't very well written, but they got a lot of attention - and generated a lot of controversy in the SF community - because Shaver claimed that they were all based on truth! He claimed that degenerate races, living inside the earth, and called "deros" were controlling the direction of mankind on the surface. These races were using technology left behind by ancient races like the "Atlans".
As I said Shaver claimed that all of this was true! He seems to have genuinely believed it, and today would proabably be writing UFO cult-type books (and probably making a fortune in the process!). Although his stuff boosted the sales of Amazing Stories for a while (Although Shaver was a real person, many theorised that most of the stories were actually written by Amazing's editor, Raymond Palmer), the fans decried it as being hogwash, and it lead to great controversy. Eventually publication of this "Shaver Mystery" material, as it came to be known, was dropped, and the whole matter became a footnote in the history of science fiction. Until, of course, I saw this episode, with its reference to subterranean "deros". It seems hard to believe that it was a cooincidence; perhaps one of the people writing the English language scripts had read Shaver material as a youth, and decided to put the reference in as an in-joke? We'll never know, but I thought it an interesting little quirk.
I also took a quick look at the live action Astroboy film. Well! Could this actually be the Japanese equivalent of "Plan 9 From Outer Space"? Perhaps somewhere in Japan, there's a former child actor who looks back on this movie as the crowning achievement of his career. Mind you, that outfit he had to wear surely qualifies as some sort of child abuse! And what about those villains with the top hats and big "Z"s on their front?! Amazing - truely amazing! I wonder what poor old Tezuka thought of it?"(Mark Cannon)
LATEST INFORMATION ON ASTROBOY
( supplied by Eric U)
1. Astro Boy was born on April 7, 2003. There was a big celebration in Japan and a
little one in Japan town in Downtown Los Angeles. The Japanese American Cultural
Museum was running a display, till June 1 2003, of post-war anime featuring many of Osamu Tezuka's art work and toys.
2. Sony is airing a brand new Astro Boy anime series on TV in Japan starting April 2003. The site with the trailer is
http://www.b-bat.tv/wakwak/astroboy/ It may be choppy at times depending on how busy that site is. But if you are lucky to watch the whole clip smoothly, you will be delighted. The rendering is great. And, best of all, there is an English version of the clip that you can watch. I would think that they intend to air it outside Japan also.
3. The Black and White version of the Astro Boy series are available for sale in Japan on DVD. Each set contains 6 discs of about 36 episodes. Unfortunately they are all in Japanese without subtitles.
"ASTRO BOY" EPISODE LIST (English Version) Supplied by 3 sources - Kelly Lannan and Mark Cannon and Jeff Haynes)
1. The Birth of Astro Boy
3. Expedition to Mars
4. The Sphinx
5. Cross Island
6. Grass Boy
7. Zero, the Invisible Robot
8. Silver Comet
9. Hullabaloo Land
10. The Spirit Machine
11. Strange Voyage
12. The Artificial Sun
13. The Deep Freeze
14. One Million Mammoth Snails
15. Gangor the Monster
16. Secret Agent 3-Z
17. The Haunted Ship
18. Time Machine
19. The Cosmic Giant
20. Toxor, the Mist Man
21. Satellite R-45
22. Sea Serpent Isle
23. The Deadly Flies
24. Kingdom of the Sea
25. The Strange Birthday Presents
26. Don Tay's Infernal Machine
27. Pearl People
28. The Wacky Machine
29. Memory Day
30. The Super Duper Robot
31. Mysterious Cosmic Rays
32. The Moon Monsters
33. The Three Magicians
34. The Beast From 20 Fathoms (The Lost Episode)
35. Planet X
36. The Elixir of Life
37. Astro Boy Goes to School
38. The Asteroid Menace
39. The Mysterious Cat
40. The Abominable Snowman
41. Deadline to Danger
42. The Island of Mystery
44. Cleopatra's Heart
45. The Return of Cleopatra
46. Phantom Space Ship
47. The Gigantic Space Crab
48. The Great Space Horse
49. 3D Tee Vee
50. Westward Ha!
51. Jimbo the Great
52. Snow Lion
53. Dogma Palace
54. The Man-Made Iceberg
55. Vampire Vale
56. The Terrible Tidal Wave
57. The Viking King [aka] Vikings
58. The Devil Doll
59. Dinosaur Dilemma
60. The Clock Tower Mystery
61. The Flower Monster
62. Attack From Space
63. Shipwreck in Space
64. Big Titan
65. Mission to the Middle of the World
66. Inca Gold Fever
67. The Monster Machine
68. The Hooligan Whodunit
69. Funnel to the Future
70. Super Brain
71. A Mighty Minute
72. The Dream Machine
73. The Robot Olympics
74. Dunder Bird of Doom
75. Dolphins in Distress
76. The Mad Beltway
77. The Terrible Time Gun
78. Space Princess
79. Mighty Microbe Army
80. Horrible King Horrid
81. Mystery of Amless Dam
82. Galon From Galaxy
83. The Three Robotiers
84. Brother Jetto
85. Angel of the Alps
86. Magic Punch Card
87. The Great Rocket Robbery
88. Contest in Space
89. Gift of Zeo
90. A Deep Deep Secret
91. The Wonderful Christmas Present
92. Uncharted World
93. Jungle Mystery
94. The Terrible Spaceman
95. The Mighty Mite From Ursa Minor
96. General Astro
97. Mystery of Metalman
98. Super Human Beings
99. Phoenix Bird
100. Menace From Mercury
101. Dangerous Mission
102. Planet 13
103. Prisoners in Space
104. Double Trouble
Raymond Temple from Greensboro, NC in the USA is currently putting together a synopsis of all 104 English dubbed episodes of Astroboy and hopefully a guide to the other 89 that were never dubbed in English. For more information go to the following link.
Raymondo's Online Astro Gallery (This is the latest updated version)
Raymondo's Online Astro Gallery (includes heaps of Astroboy pics)
Raymondo's Online Astroboy Episode Guide (synopsis of episodes)
Astroboy (synopsis of episodes and pics)
Tanakas Home Page (contains movie clips of Astroboy)
Retrobug.com (contains pics and info on Astroboy)
Astroboy Theme song (original)
Astroboy Theme song (new)
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