Soaring high in the sky, he may be small but only in size
He is brave and gentle and wise!
Kids of the 80’s out there, do you still remember this song? I think I can hear you singing it now
Astroboy or Tetsuwan Atom is the very first Japanese animation I watched as a kid. I remember asking my dad to wake me up in the afternoon – I think it was three or four in the afternoon so I can watch this anime in our fourteen inch black and white TV (yes, those were the days when most television sets had no remote controls, had three dials for the brightness, contrast and the on and off switch / volume control, and oh, no cable channels yet, so there was only up to channel 13 back then, to switch channels you have to stand and walk up to the TV set and turn the big channel dial) and I can still remember the names of the other characters aside from Astroboy. And no, I am NOT referring to the 2003 version, I am referring to the 1980’s version of Tetsuwan Atom.
Astroboy is originally a manga created by Osamu Tezuka, published in 1952 and aired in 1963. It was remade for TV as Shin Tetsuwan Atom in 1980 and again in 2003. It was said that Osamu created Astroboy when he was seventeen years old and it became one of his most famous creations. His other work that I got to watch as a kid (I think I was in high school then) was Kimba the White Lion (Jungle Taitei in Japanese, taitei meaning emperor) and just a few years back, Black Jack.
In the anime, Astroboy is created /built by Dr. Boynton (or Dr. Tenma in Japanese) after his son, Tobio died in a car accident. This is a robot with emotions, different from all the other robots. He is also super strong (if 100,000 horsepower isn’t strong for you, I don’t know what is), can fly and equipped with lasers and machine guns. Oh, yeah! I remember the lasers from his finger and the machine gun on his butt – is there any other way to say it? Kind of weird to put a weapon there but this feature was not present in the 2003 remake of the anime – a bit disappointing, but it’s still Astro, minus the machine gun.
URAN – (Zoran in the 2003 version) Astro’s little sister who was built by Dr. Ochanomizu. She has half of Astro’s strength (50,000 hp) but that is still inhumanly strong. She gets into a bit of trouble every now and then; a bit tomboyish but cute, naïve but determined who is attached to her big brother Astro.
Dr. Ochanomizu is a robot rights advocate in the series and created the ‘Robot Bill of Rights’. He rescued Astro from the robot circus and like I said, created Uran, as well as a mother and father for Astro. He is known as Dr. Elefun in the American dub.
ATLAS – I don’t remember much about Atlas’ history. I just know that he is Astro’s brother and arch enemy. They have equal strengths, so when they battle, I never really remember anyone winning, it was always a draw. But I clearly remember him always riding a robot horse and wielding an electric sword and cares for Livian so much.
LIVIAN – like Atlas, I don’t know much about Livian’s history. I just know that she is always with Atlas, looks like a (galactic) princess and lives in a crystal castle with Atlas. I’m writing all of this from what I remember in my childhood days, just in case you’re wondering. I just know that Livian always warns Astro about Atlas’ plans.
From a kid’s (mind) memories, the other characters names are Daddy Walrus (Astro’s teacher), Jump (the dog), Astro’s Mama and Papa. And now the names of the minor characters that I forgot – Astro’s classmates and the detectives in the series.
There are differences in the story and additional characters between the 1980’s and the 2003 version, sadly, I wasn’t able to watch the 2003 version – I was busy being an adult. In 2009, a computer animated film of the same title was released. The truth is, I didn’t get to watch this too. It didn’t catch my attention that much, but I guess it’s never too late to buy a DVD and relive the memories again.
Below are the videos for the 1980′s opening both english and the original japanese version, as well as the 2003 version.