Wayback Machine: Remembering Astro Boy
When I was young, our local TV stations showed a myriad of old cartoons, including what we kids used to call “odd” cartoons. Those included Marine Boy, Speed Racer, 8th Man and our favorite (cosmic!) Astro Boy.
Of course these looked different to our eyes because they were something we had never heard of then: the beginnings of Japanese anime. Astro Boy was first published in 1952 and televised in Japan in 1963.
As everyone knows nowadays, it is essentially the story of a cosmic Pinocchio. The tale follows a young robot boy, Astro Boy, and the characters he encounters along his way in life.
After enjoying success both in Japan, in the U.S.and elsewhere, Astro Boy was remade in the 1980s as Shin Tetsuwan Atomu, known as Astro Boy in other countries, and again in 2003. In November 2007, he was named Japan's envoy for overseas safety. An American computer-animated 3-D film based on the original manga series by Tezuka was released on Oct. 23, 2009.
Astro Boy was like magic to me as a child. I can still hear in my mind’s ear the noise his feet made when he walked around indoors. I remember Astro Boy’s guardian of sorts, Dr. Packidermus J. Elefun, head of the Ministry of Science (who looked like a human elephant of sorts) and also Atlas, one of the greater big-bads that Astro Boy battled. I remember the care that Dr. Elefun gave to the young robot, even building him parents for him in order to let him lead a closer-to-normal life.
But most of all, I recall the way Astro Boy flew with those feet that looked like boot jets. As a child, I loved drawing those blasts that came out of his feet. And in retrospect, I believe that is why Iron Man, who flew similarly, may have been one of the first Marvel heroes to which I gravitated.
And unlike today, back in the 1960s it seems every show had great snappy opening music. The opening theme song by Tatsuo Takai with lyrics by Don Rockwell went:
There you go, Astro Boy! On your flight into space!
Rocket high, through the sky, for adventures soon you will face!
Astro Boy bombs away, on your mission today!
Here's the countdown, and the blastoff! Everything is go, Astro Boy!
Astro Boy as you fly, strange new worlds you will spy!
Atom-celled, jet propelled, fighting monsters high in the sky!
Astro Boy, there you go; will you find friend or foe?
Cosmic ranger, laugh at danger! Everything is go, Astro Boy!
Crowds will cheer you, you’re a hero, as you go, go, go Astro Boy!
Astro Boy was a big part of my childhood, and the first anime to broadcast outside Japan. The original was one great show and one great memory!