Astro Boy is a Japanese television series that premiered on Fuji TV on New Year's Day and is the first popular animated Japanese television series that embodied the aesthetic that later became familiar worldwide as "anime". It originated as a manga of the same name in 1952 by Osamu Tezuka, revered in Japan as the "God of Manga."
After enjoying success both in Japan and abroad as the first anime to be broadcast overseas, Astro Boy was remade in the 1980s and again in 2003. It lasted for four seasons, with a total of 193 episodes, the final episode presented on New Year's Eve 1966. At its height it was watched by 40% of the Japanese population who had access to a TV. In 1964, there was a feature-length animated movie called Hero of Space released in Japan. It was an anthology of three episodes; The Robot Spaceship, Last Day on Earth and Earth Defense Squadron. The latter two were filmed in color. An American computer-animated 3-D film based on the original manga series by Tezuka was released on October 23, 2009.
For the English version, the producers, NBC Enterprises settled on "Astro Boy" as a title during discussions between producer Fred Ladd and representatives from NBC. Of the 193 episodes created in the series, 104 were adapted into the English version by Fred Ladd, and initially syndicated from September 1963 through August 1965, with repeats continuing until the series was withdrawn from syndication in the early 1970s. The names were adjusted for American audiences. Frederik L. Schodt, who created the English version of the original comic, said that the names were “cleverly” changed for American tastes.
From 2007 - 2008, Cartoon Network broadcast NBC’s syndicated edition of the original 1960s episodes as a part of its late night Adult Swim line-up. Only the first 52 episodes were aired. Astro Boy was also shown as part of Adult Swim's Toonami April Fools Joke on April 1, 2012.
The series follows the exploits of a highly advanced robot, named Astro Boy, with amazing powers but a childish perspective on the world. The action is pretty standard for a superhero series, with Astro Boy facing off with a wide variety of giant robots, aliens, monsters, and more.
Astro Boy — The robot boy fashioned after Astor Boynton III by his father, the head of the Institute of Science in the year 2000. Aside from possessing the strength of 100,000 horsepower (later 1,000,000) and the kind personality of a child, he has what are called his "seven amazing powers": jet-powered flight, multilingualism, analytical skills, headlight eyes, super-sensitive hearing, hidden weapons in his back, and the ability to tell if a person is good or evil. In addition, he has a built-in geiger counter and shortwave communication system.
Uran/Astro Girl — Astro's cybernetic sister with a shown adoration towards Astro; she is a superhuman robot with a naive, tomboyish personality. Constructed by Dr. Elefun as a "gift" for Astro, Uran is an extremely mischievous little girl who constantly lands her older brother in trouble. While lacking Astro's weaponry and propulsion systems, she is extremely powerful (50,000 horsepower) and regularly accompanies him on various missions (or attempts to). Like Astro, she is fully capable of experiencing human emotions - though being somewhat less 'mature'. Uran first appeared in Episode 25 (The Strange Birthday Present) under the name Astrogirl.
Dr. Aster Boyton II — The former head of the Institute of Science. Ever since his son died, he decided to build a robot boy who looks like his son. But when he discovered that Astro Boy could not grow, he sold his son to the circus. He appears only in Episodes 1: Birth of Astro Boy, and 97: Mystery of The Metal Men.
Dr. Packerdermus J. Elefun — The present head of the Institute of Science and a fearless campaigner for robotic rights. Kind, patient and good-natured, he serves as a mentor for both Astro and Uran, and would willingly give his life for either. Somewhat eccentric by nature, he tends to be excitable when faced by a scientific mystery, particularly when his opinions are questioned by his scientific colleagues. He first appeared in Episode 1: Birth of Astro Boy, where he rescued Astro from Caccitore's circus.
Inspector Gumshoe — a highly-placed police detective with an innate distrust of androids and robots (the reason to this is never explained in detail). Due to his opposition to Tokyo's robotic population, Gumshoe has a long-standing feud with both Dr. Elephun and Mr. Pompous, and frequently engages in volatile arguments with them. While arrogant, cantankerous and, in some cases, downright rude, he eventually comes to respect Astro's courage and abilities, even calling for his assistance in particularly difficult cases. Partnered with Chief McClaw, he first appeared in Episode 2: Colosso.
Chief McClaw — The chief of the police and the partner of Inspector Gumshoe. Played mainly for comic relief, he was normally portrayed as fat, dim-witted and gullible; a stereotype "clueless flatfoot" of the period. Nonetheless, he instantly recognized Astro's good side and frequently stood up for Astro Boy against his bullying partner (as seen in Episode 23). In the 1960s English translations, he has an Irish accent. He first appeared in Episode 2: Colosso.
Percival Pompous — A private investigator who, like Dr. Elephun, serves as a surrogate father for Astro and Uran, providing guidance and advice when necessary. While gruff and comically short-tempered, he harbours a deep admiration for Astro, seeing him as the son he never had, and even stands up to the formidable Inspector Gumshoe in the boy's defence.
Jetto — Astro Boy's cybernetic brother. He was a defective prototype of Astro built by Dr. Boyton, then sealed within the Ministry of Science archives & later released. Jetto has abilities comparable to his brother's, but lacks Astro's intelligence and common sense. Clumsy, accident-prone and gullible, he is a constant source of trouble for Astro's family (and everyone else who crosses his path). Despite these problems, Jetto is often shown to be extremely kind-hearted and loyal. In addition to the abilities that were copied from Astro, he also shares a kind of telepathic link with his brother that gives him the ability to sense when Astro is in danger & home in his location. He first appeared in Episode 84: Brother Jetto. In the manga, his name is Cobalt.
On September 7, 1963, the series began airing on NBC in the United States, running until August 20, 1965. The series was then aired in syndication well into 1975. On July 14, 2007, Astro Boy returned to American television on Adult Swim, being shown at 5:30 AM until December 29, 2008. During its run on the block there was a 7-hour marathon that aired on Saturday, December 25, 2007 (Christmas day) from 11:00 PM to 6:00 AM. On April 1, 2012, Astro Boy aired as part of Adult Swim's Toonami April Fools prank.
- United States (NBC) — September 7, 1963 - August 20, 1965
- United States (Syndication) — 1963 - 1975
- United States (Adult Swim) — July 14, 2007 - December 29, 2008; April 1, 2012
Toonami Broadcast History
- Toonami (United States) — April 1, 2012
- Astro Boy (2003) - 2003 reboot series
|Cartoon Network (1997-2008)|
|Adult Swim (2012-Present)|