Will Hollywood’s Astro Boy do the original ’60s anime justice?

Astro Boy, the classic story of a friendly nuclear-powered robot boy created by legendary Japanese manga artist Osamu Tezuka, is being released as a 3D CG Hollywood film. It hits theaters in October, with voices by people like Nicolas Cage, Donald Sutherland, and Kristen Bell. I’m excited to watch it, and I hope they don’t screw it up like they did Speed Racer. The original Japanese intro sequence from the ’60s is below.

About Lisa Katayama

I'm a contributing editor here at Boing Boing. I also have a blog (TokyoMango), a book (Urawaza), and I freelance for Wired, Make, the NY Times Magazine, PRI's Studio360, etc. I'm @tokyomango on Twitter.
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13 Responses to Will Hollywood’s Astro Boy do the original ’60s anime justice?

  1. ps says:

    i gotta chime in with the speed racer screw up comment. perhaps speed racer mucked up the original mach 5 manga, but the speed racer movie kept the heart and soul of the us release up to par. i loved that show as a kid, and watched it way too often. i thought the movie was a perfect adaptation. i also dont understand why it doesnt get the credit it deserves.

  2. Rad says:

    Au contrere! Speed racer was a masterpiece!

  3. Anonymous says:

    Nicolas Cage, Donald Sutherland, and Kristen Bell? No thanks, but I’ll take Peter Fernandez anyday.

  4. akbar56 says:

    Screw it up like they did Speed Racer?

    Are you serious?

    Go watch a handful of original episodes again. And then watch the film.

    The Wachoskis created the world of Speed Racer PERFECTLY in their film.

  5. katsujinken says:

    You know this is probably going to be an unpopular thing to say but watching Astro Boy again as an adult – it really ..well sucks. For anyone who doesn’t remember here’s a synopsis of the first episode…

    A scientist is working on building new robots and is therefore too busy to take his son Toby out to the Zoo so Toby decides to go by himself in a “robot car”. Upon learning this, his father says “kids can’t drive robot cars!” (why not? if it’s a robot car doesn’t it drive itself?) Anyhoo, Toby crashes, dies the dad has a bit of a mental breakdown.

    In order to console himself over the death of his son he decides to make his new robot modeled after his dead son Toby except with the added advantage of being able to shoot lasers from his ass. Astro Boy malfunctions and goes on a destructive spree across the city. His father goes out in a mech to save him but then the mech malfunctions and starts destroying things too. Astro Boy comes to his senses and saves his father who professes his love despite Astro Boy being a robot and then the city has a ticker tay parade for him.

    As a reward for saving the city from uh ..himself, Astro Boy and his father are sent on a cruise. While on this cruise, Astro Boy has dinner with his father and a woman quite snootily proclaims “Ooh I didn’t know we were going to have to eat with robots.” Astro Boy accidently knocks over the table and his dad says “You’re not my son, you’re just a robot!” (but he just said he doesn’t care that Astro Boy is a robot and loves him anyway).

    So Astro Boy runs off discovers that the ship is about to hit an iceburg so he saves everyone, unfortunately he has run low on power so some guy from a circus finds him and shoves him in a suitcase while his father searches for him. Episode 1 The End.

    All I can say to that is lolwut?

  6. tohoscope says:

    I’m gonna go all astro-boy-fascist and point out that there’s also an Astro Boy from the 80′s:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gtAvZXuHbNU
    and an Astro Boy from the 00′s”
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KV7UtEKKkBw
    But I’m sure everybody knows about these recreations/remixes/remakes.

  7. jporath says:

    I’ve got a lot of friends who are working on this — from a close friend who translated a bunch of the old series (it’s Prof. Ochanomizu, not Dr. Elefun), to producers, effects artists, and animators. They all have a good feeling about it.

    This is the same studio that did the recent TMNT CG film, which was pretty decent, by all accounts. They’ve had some difficulties recently (production actually completely shut down for a month or two), but are, to my knowledge, up and running and will finish the movie on time.

  8. jporath says:

    (this is not to say they’re not mucking with things — I hear that Tenma is actually quite genial towards Atom/Astro for most of the movie, as opposed to selling him to the circus in the first act — but there’s a general sense of respect towards the source material)

  9. tohoscope says:

    What’s with all the hate for the Speed Racer movie? It’s not a bad movie. I wish all the haters would actually explain why it’s so bad.

    The scene with Dr. Tenma and Dr. Packidermus J. Elefun working together in the trailer makes me a bit worried. But I’m still looking forward to seeing the movie.

  10. Downpressor says:

    FWIW when me and my friends were watching Astro Boy on TV in the late 70s/early 80s (memory fails me here) we didnt even know it was from Japan. Lets just hope the movie is fun for adults and kids too.

    One of these days I’ll take some pics of the Osama murals under the Yamanote tracks at Takadanobaba station. For me its a happy thing that they are there and that the JR Takadanobaba station melody is the Tetsuwan Atomu theme.

  11. stinkingpig says:

    screwed up? The Speed Racer movie rocked.

  12. Anonymous says:

    charm of previous, let’s try not to be new-age fascists, hippy-fascists, nerd-core-fascists, speedracer movie fascists or whatever kind of fascist I am by advisind against fascist thinking. Lisa totally captured the whole schism of recreating/remixing something classic. and imho speedracer movie is one thing speedracer original tv show is another, and you can never recreate the time and setting of original anything , and especially astroboy.

  13. akbar56 says:

    I will agree with you anon @5. One creation (especially in a different medium) is a whole different creation from it’s original.

    However in the case of Speed Racer I do have to put forth that as far as adaptations from one medium to another go, the film got it right on all counts.

    Nothing drastic was changed or altered from the original core of the Speed Racer mythos (unlike other products that in an effort to make themselves different end up destroying what the original was.)

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