Astro Boy (アトム Atomu?) known in Japan as "Mighty Atom", "Iron Arm Atom", or just "Astro", is a fictional character created by Osamu Tezuka and the titular protagonist of the Astro Boy franchise.
Astro is a robot male with human emotions created by Umataro Tenma. Tenma created Astro in the image of his deceased son Tobio Tenma. After learning that Astro is robotic and therefore cannot function like a biological human boy, Tenma sold Astro to a robotic circus out of a fit of rage. Astro was forced into fighting other robots against his will in the robot circus, but was eventually rescued by Hiroshi Ochanomizu. Astro fits the embodiment of a hero, having a strong sense of justice and is always willing to defend those who can't defend themselves. A natural pacifist, he always attempts to solve situations intelligently with diplomacy. He has an extreme care for the preciousness of life, much like his real-world creator Osamu Tezuka himself.
- In the 1963 series, he was voiced by Mari Shizimu in the Japanese dub and by Billie Lou Watt in the English dub.
- Shizimu also provided Astro's voice in the 1980 series, while Patricia Kugler Whitely (in USA) and Steven Bednarski (in Canada) voiced Astro in the English dub.
- In the 2003 series, he was voiced by Makoto Tsumura in the Japanese dub and by Candi Milo in the English dub.
- In the 2009 animated film adaptation, he was voiced by Freddie Highmore, who also played Charlie Bucket, Jared Grace and Simon Grace, Shaun Murphy, and Arthur from Arthur and the Invisibles. Highmore later reprised his role for the movie's video game adaptation.
Astro Boy was created as a tribute to Tobio Tenma, a boy who died in a car accident. His grieving scientist father spent millions of dollars to create a robot in Tobio's likeness. The robot, given the name "Astro Boy", had a heart of gold, a genius mind, very advanced robotic weaponry, and the innocence of a child. The scientist raised Astro Boy as his own son until several years went by and he noticed that Astro Boy had not grown at all since his creation. Disgraced by the robot's inability to grow, he threw Astro Boy out into the streets. Eventually, Astro Boy was adopted by another scientist who, also, treated Astro Boy like a son. Astro Boy sought to use his unique, robotic powers to protect the human race.
Tezuka was a lifelong fan of Disney and he drew many of his early characters with the famous Disney characters' design in mind. Astro would continue this trend of characters designed after Disney characters, using a simplistic cartoon style. Astro bears a strong resemblance to Mickey Mouse -- Disney's most popular character. The most prominent feature of Astro's design that borrows from Disney is in the head. His head uses a large circular shape, also being used by many popular American animated characters at that time. Symbolically, this suggests Astro's innocence, while the spikes on his head introduce an edge to his personality.
Astro Boy's most defining feature are his eyes, especially in the anime series due to the use of limited animation. His eyes were designed to be fully reactive to light and feel dynamic. This would become a very common design aspect in anime and manga characters that would follow. The use of the eyes in this manner allowed the facial expressions to use less animation yet seem more real.
Although a robot Astro was intended to look indistinguishable from a human being as he was designed to resemble Tobio Tenma. He was given many of the similar distinguishing attributes, his large innocent eyes, jet-black spiky hair and light skin tone. His hair has two spikes one on the the left of his head pointing directly upwards and the other on the right side just above his ear pointing out to the side, and a widow's peak. Since Astro is a robot and does not function like a biological being, the height of his body, his weight, and the length of his hair never change. Astro was created with what appears to be underwear and a green belt. Other than these Astro has no clothing, except for when he is dressed in his school uniform. Astro also wears a pair of red boots, which can change into jets for rocket-powered flight. for the most part his design and clothing remain consistent throughout adaptations with some exceptions. In the 2009 CGI film he wears a blue v-neck and white undershirt, with black pants.
Astro now has a green shirt with light blue highlights, green eyes, and black pants that connect with his red boots.
On his 9th birthday, a young Tobio Tenma collided with a speeding vehicle and died. Devastated by this loss, Tobio's father, Dr. Umataro Tenma, used his position as the minister of science to build a powerful android with artificial emotions, one which was to be a direct replacement to his dead son. Not long after the robot's creation, Dr. Tenma started to feel disappointed by the robot boy's actions. He took the robot to the place where he had last seen Tobio: Plant 7 of the ministry of science, where old, inefficient robots were broken down to be later used as spare parts for newer models. Much like Tobio (who was upset at his father deactivating his robot nanny, who he considered a friend), the robot boy was upset at Dr. Tenma for 'hating' robots, and lashed out towards his 'father'. Having been rejected twice by both of his 'sons', Dr. Tenma shuts off the robot with a heart. Fearing that robots with emotions could take over the human race, Tenma soon destroys the previous prototypes of the robot Tobio as well.
Birth of Astro Boy, the Mighty Atom
Soon after its deactivation, the robot 'Tobio' was found and reactivated by the newly instated minister of science, Dr. Hiroshi Ochanumiz, Having nearly no recollection of his past, the rebooted android was christened as 'Atom', and soon went on many adventures to save his city, Metro City, and developed a close father-son relationship with Ochanumizu, who even builds him a robot sister, Uran.
Astro was created in the image of Tobio Tenma therefore he inherited his basic personality traits. Due to Tobio being a child when he died, Astro has inherited his same childlike innocence including his childlike naivety, Astro by nature has a strong sense of justice and for deciding what is right and wrong. Mostly a pacifist, Astro will not stray from using force if he has no choice, although he always tries to solve situations diplomatically. Astro is incredibly protective of family and friends and will often risk his own life to protect them from harm.
Astro is selfless, brave and kindhearted. He has a deep love for humanity, in spite of the many hardships he may face. At the end of both the 1960s anime series and Astro Boy: Omega Factor, he willingly sacrificed himself in order to save humanity from certain doom (although in the latter, he was brought back to life).
Astro's most complicated relationship is with his own creator Umataro Tenma. Although, he was treated with love and care by Tenma in the beginning, the grief left over after the death of his son Tobio took control causing Tenma to accept that a robot could not be an adequate replacement for his flesh and blood human child. Due to this realization, Tezuka slowly begins to lose his sanity and in some adaptations resorts to drinking, he begins to treat Astro poorly and even becomes outright hostile towards him leaving him stuck in dangerous situations. In most adaptations Astro is eventually sold to Hamegg's Robot Circus by Tenma and although Tenma feels legitimate remorse for his actions, fails to reconnect with Astro who mostly tries to avoid him however, in some instances tries to forgive him which results in Ochanomizu typically going out of his way to stop such a reunion.
Powers and Abilities
Astro Boy has a wide variety of powers, the most prominent being his ability to fly, his ability to shoot beams of energy, and his super strength.
Reception and Legacy
Astro's character proved such a success that it launched into an international franchise of anime, manga, films and video games. Tezuka, originally designed after traditional Disney characters of the time, Astro's style reflects that of Mickey Mouse. A simple cartoon style of character, although Tezuka would implement some of his own styles into the drawings that would become commonplace for most anime and manga that came after. Astro would also inspire the creation of the character Mega Man.
Astro was listed on Empire magazine's 50 Greatest Comic Characters list ranking forty third, making Astro the only manga character on the list. Astro was placed tenth Mania Entertainment's 10 Most Iconic Anime Heroes written by Thomas Zoth who commented that "he was Japan's first great modern cartoon hero, on the printed page and the TV screen". In 2014, IGN ranked him as the fourth greatest anime character of all time. Astro appeared in Screwattack's Death Battle!, where he faced another fictional robot, Mega Man in battle and won.
Even decades after his initial appearances Astro remains a cultural impact in Japan and is among the most celebrated figures in popular culture. On April 7, 2003 Japan celebrated the official date of birth for Astro, people from all over Japan participated. In 2004 Astro was accepted as an honorary citizen of the city of Niiza in Japan and was inducted into the Robot Hall of Fame. Multiple statues of the character have been erected in Japan, most prominently is a statue immediately outside of the Osamu Tezuka Manga Museum in Takarazuka. Mostly due to his numerous appearances on syndication Astro has become well known in Europe and Australia and with the mainstream success of the 1963 series and the 2009 feature film Astro Boy has built a presence in the United States.
Astro Boy was one of the first manga characters to embrace mass merchandising including action figures, collectible figurines, food products, clothing, stamps and trading cards. The franchise has earned 3 billion dollars.
Astro Boy (2009)
Astro Boy was once Toby, the son of a famous inventor who was killed in an explosion. Grief-stricken, his father, Dr. Tenma, revived him in a robotic replica. Astro was unaware of who he was until, with the aid of special friends, he grew into a compassionate and brave hero, fighting evil and protecting the innocent
- Akin to Mickey Mouse, no matter which direction Astro faces, the spikes atop his head are always in the same place.
- Astro Boy's Color remake that came out in the 1980's was originally meant to come out during 1977, but changes in plans resulted in it changing into an anime called Jetter Mars.
- Astro appears as a Star System character in many manga Tezuka series.
- Astro is the mascot for a series of children's traffic safety videos.