Astro Boy (1980) 40th Anniversary

It’s the 40th Anniversary of Astro’s colour version this year!

A fact which makes me realise that this particular show and I are getting on a bit (I’m pretty close to the same age now :D). Of course, we all know that Osamu Tezuka first had Mighty Atom debut back in the early 1950s, so the character is really getting on, but he’s also one that has remained beloved.

After the 1980s remake, there was the 2003 TV series and then a 2009 CGI feature film, and a few even more recent spin-off/versions of the hero. From memory, there’s also French production around 2019, but I can’t remember the details.

And related, there’s a still-forthcoming adaption of Pluto which I’m excited about – but basically, all this is me trying to say that I’m happy to see Astro is still someone folks want to see in action.

Astro Boy was the first anime I saw, but of course I didn’t know it was ‘anime’ then. I would have been watching re-runs in the late 1980s and I still remember that it seemed very different from other animated shows. It struck me as far ‘sadder’ actually – more willing to take the gloves off for difficult moments.

It also had everything I was looking for as a kid; a fantastically different future world, robots, battles, heaps of variety in character design, bold voice acting and even a bit of humour.

Perhaps more importantly, it had things I didn’t quite understand at the time – characters didn’t always act in ways that I grasped at first, but made me want to keep watching, to find out why they made the choices they did.

But it had something else too…

Atlas!

As much as I was definitely onboard with Astro saving the day, Atlas was compelling in a different way.

He had such a commanding voice to my young ears, he was powerful, and had a killer design and more, he was steeped in mystery. Atlas also stood out to me because he was connected to an ongoing narrative (to some extent), which immediately made him more memorable compared to other characters, since Astro is quite an episodic series.

But I think the most important thing about Atlas was that he was probably the first example I’d seen of a redemption arc – but I won’t spoil things here. Instead, I’ll just say that for one of the antagonists, he is portrayed sympathetically enough at times, so that as a kid (and probably when I re-watch the series) I felt for him.

Years later, I found out that Atlas had a fairly different role in the 1950s and 1960s and so that’s part of why I’ve only seen few of those episodes from the black and white series. I also discovered (when I received a very cool tin/boxed set for one birthday or another) that Australian broadcast had skipped over the true opening – and thus I was missing some key information about Atlas.

It’s been maybe ten years since I last watched all the 1980s Astro episodes but I did use the The Wreck Of The Titan in class one year, which is probably a fair example of what I think of when I consider Astro to be a kids show that doesn’t shy away from the sad moments.

So for the 40th anniversary of the colour series I think I might do a few more posts on Astro Boy over the next few months!

And as a final note (something I’ll probably come back to in another post) – the 1980s version has a great jazz fusion OST (well, not all tracks are such).

But during the ‘Astro vs Atlas’ battle theme, which I’ll try include below, I think it’s clear that the Seatbelts gave a nod to this piece in their Cowboy Bebop opener Tank!

4 thoughts on “Astro Boy (1980) 40th Anniversary

  1. I never had a chance to see the 1980 remake. That’s pretty cool. I can totally hear where “Tank!” got some of it’s musical ideas from. WOW!

    I guess you can also strike another comparison with you and I since both of us have covered a remake of a Tezuka work. Haha! I should check out this version of Astro Boy.

    Did you know that Megaman is an homage analog of Astro Boy? Capcom wanted to make an Astro Boy game, but they couldn’t get the rights to the IP. Instead, they made their own character and look what happened. Think about it: Both of them are boy robots, have arm cannons, have single human “fathers”, and can fly (okay, Megaman needs the help of Rush or Beat to do so). At least Capcom acknowledges Tezuka’s influence on their mascot instead of other characters I could mention.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Wow, did not know that about Megaman at all – fantastic! I’ll go and do some more reading, cool 🙂

      When I first heard the ‘Astro’ OST as a adult (who’d seen ‘Bebop’ by then) I was pretty thrilled. I think finding such links seems to speak quite deeply to the nerd within for me, hahaha

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yeah, it was very fascinating learning about the character and finding the connections with Capcom and Tezuka Productions.

        I sure bet. It’s great how you have that song as a musical influence for a well-known anime theme song.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: Needing some time in the sunshine (or sunshee-yine!). Sunshine Blogger Award! – Iridium Eye Reviews

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