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Friday, November 14, 2008

Astro Boy - The Human Side of Technology

Ever wondered what was Japan's inspiration why they went this advanced in technology, even after their devastation on World War II? You got it right! (Assuming you read the title of this post)

Astro Boy first started as a manga series which was first serialized in Japan from 1951 to 1968. It was then followed by two further series on 1975 and 1980 to 81. He is created by Osamu Tezuka, often reputed as the "god of manga." It was later serialized in the United States under the Dark Horse Comics.

Thanks to the ever helpful Wikipedia, I was able to gather important information.

Astro Boy also saw alot of action in motion. It was made into a television series, and dubbed as the first anime ever made. The beginning of the series was produced by Mushi Productions, which premiered on Fuji TV on New Year's Day 1963, but was eventually moved to the NHK network. It was also the first anime to be broadcast outside Japan. It lasted for four seasons, with a total of 193 episodes. At its height it was watched by 40% of the Japanese population that 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 a special treat for Japanese fans since the theatrical versions were filmed in color.

There has been a lot of plans for a movie. In 1962, MBS released an hour and 15 minutes of black and white live action film and since there are limitation on what people can do with a film, the success of the film was out of reach. It was on 1999 that Columbia Pictures has announce the making of the Hollywood version of the comic series.

The Astro Boy feature film version is slated for 2009 from Imagi Animation Studios.

The plot of the series is simple. The story focuses mainly on Astro Boy, a robot created by Dr. Tenma, the head of the Ministry of Science in hope that he would be able to replace his son, Tobio, who died on a car accident. After the realization that the robot would never have emotions, he sold it to a cruel circus owner, Hamegg, who later gave him to Professor Ochanomizu, the new head of the Ministry of Science.

Throughout the series, Astro Boy, fights crime, injustice and evil at the same time struggles with the difficulties of his hopes to be a real boy. The series, whether on manga or on TV, explored issues on morality, responsibility, racism, prejudice, true heroism, and acceptance of loss.

While, on the storyline, our hero is built on pure metal, yet he displays great human emotion, even greater that most of the people on the series. While the story focuses on his struggles as a robot and his wants to be human, the loss, the responsibilities and his limitations, Astro Boy remains loyal and and pure, making him the real picture of the perfect technology. A technology with a touch of humanity.

Indeed, Astro Boy is an existing evidence, that in every technology we make, build or create, we always long for it to have a human side.

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