I will probably not be able to update much over the next few weeks.
In the meantime, take a look at this interesting piece of merchandise.
Yep. Astro Boy boxer shorts. And they're from the 2003 series too. Thanks to Fauna for discovering these during a hunt for Weird Astro-stuff on eBay.
Kind of strange, but... what the heck. I'd wear 'em. Expect much more weird Astro-stuff in the future.
Sayonara for now.
Thursday, July 31, 2008
I will probably not be able to update much over the next few weeks.
Forgot that I had not yet posted this here, but now is as good of a time as any!
On day, while watching Justice League on DVD, I started to wonder, what if there was a Justice League of anime characters? Who would be on it?
Well, I thought about it long and hard, then I took a famous piece of Justice League artwork and painted my own version of it. This is what I came up with, and you better believe that our boy Astro got a place on the team!
THE JUSTICE LEAGUE OF ANIME by ~ninjatron on deviantART
You can also see the individual profiles of the team members which I just recently uploaded. Each has a little story I wrote about how the member joined the team.
Enjoy. I'll be featuring more artwork in the future, so if you have any art or know of any that you like, send me a link to it.
Tuesday, July 29, 2008
Now that Comic Con is in the books, blogs and other media outlets are now bringing out their news and articles covering the event.
Geek to Me brings us an audio interview done this past Saturday with Astro Boy director David Bowers and Producer Maryann Garger, who were on the scene at Imagi's booth to shed some more light on the film and what they are doing with it. Not much of the info is brand new to anyone who's been following the film closely, but reemphasizes that the movie will be cutting edge, modern interpretation of the classic story.
Speaking on the cast, David Bowers says that Eugene Levy is performing the voice of Dr. Tenma's house robot, and Donald Sutherland's character, General (President?) Stone, is the villain of the film. The actors are given time to get to know their characters and are re-recording the first scenes at the end of a session after they are comfortable with the voice.
Give it a listen right here!
David, a brief word of advice: the word manga is pronounced "Mah-n-gah", not "Maeng-ah." Just a pet peeve of mine!
Missed this one when it first popped up, but I've got it for you now. Here's a video giving us a great view of Imagi's booth at Anime Expo. You get to see the excitement people have for next year's CG animated Astro Boy movie (and for the free t-shirts, no doubt), as well as a very short glance at some very early animation towards the end of the video. Although the footage we see here is only a few seconds and is obviously not final, it's the first look at the film that's been available on the Internet, and even in its primitive state, it does look pretty cool!
This video was uploaded about a week ago by YouTube user hollyweedathollywood. Thanks to Astroboy Online Fourm member Dragonrider1227 for the tip!
Monday, July 28, 2008
Coming out of Comic Con, here are some pictures that bring us a better look at what Astro might look like in the upcoming CGI animated Astro Boy movie from Imagi.
First, Felix Ip shows off a better look at the mysterious silhouette image that has been used to promote the film.
Next, here is a picture of the bag that was being given away at Imagi's booth at Comic Con 2008 this past weekend. It has the same silhouette image, but surrounded by what look like storyboard artwork. Totally cool! Thanks to Fauna of the Astroboy Online Forums for the tip. I will hopefully have a closer look at this bag in a few weeks.
And now, the big one. From io9's Comic Con coverage, here is a photo of a screen displaying a full colour, full body shot of a CG Astro. Is this what our boy is going to look like in the movie? Or is this not the final product yet? It looks a bit different than the silhouette, especially the ankles. There was no context provided with the image, so I could use some confirmation.
I will add these pictures to the image gallery once I know exactly what I'm looking at.
Saturday, July 26, 2008
Wow! This huge announcement from Comic Con really took me by surprise, but it's a welcome surprise to be sure!
Viz Media is publishing Pluto in English!
For those unfamiliar with Pluto, it is a manga by Naoki Urasawa, who is the creator of Yawara, 20th Century Boys, Master Keaton, and Monster. The story of Pluto is based on the famous Astro Boy plot "The World's Strongest Robot", but told in a new way, from the perspective of a different character, and intended for more of a grown-up audience. Astro does eventually appear, but he is not the main character. In Japan, Pluto has been lauded with many awards and accolades, including the Osamu Tezuka Cultural Prize in 2005.
Look forward to the first volume of Pluto from Viz in Feburary 2009. Thanks to About.com: Manga for the news!
Friday, July 25, 2008
Hey, looks like we've made it! Well, maybe not exactly, but it's cool all the same. Earlier this week, both Ain't it Cool News and Anime News Network quoted and linked to AstroBoy World regarding the story I wrote about Peter Chung. It's great to be recognized as a news source by such big, respected websites, especially after only being online for a few months.
Thanks to everyone who has been checking out the site regularly! Updates may be somewhat spotty over the next few weeks, but I'll do my best to keep on top of all the latest developments on the upcoming Astro Boy animated film, as well as other Tezuka related news and, of course, whatever interesting or weird things I dig up. Please continue to visit, leave comments, and spread the word!
Sunday, July 20, 2008
Imagi and Summit Entertainment will be promoting the Astro Boy CGI movie at the San Diego Comic Con International on July 24th - 27th, with director David Bowers and producer Maryann Garger on the scene and available for interviews on the 26th. Should be an exciting time, with more news and possibly a better look at the movie thus far.
A special Astro Boy bag will be given away on a limited basis. I don't have a picture of it, but I know I want one!
Also, on Saturday, visit the Imagi booth between 11 AM and 4 PM for a "Hair Makeover"! Get your hair looking as cool as Astro's!
Click the link below for the full press release with all the details, and stay tuned to ABW for all the news out of San Deigo!
IMAGI STUDIOS AND SUMMIT ENTERTAINMENT BRINGING FEATURE FILM ASTRO BOY TO COMIC CON/SAN DIEGO
Los Angeles, July 16, 2008 – Imagi Studios and Summit Entertainment will be at COMIC CON in San Diego, booth # 3530, introducing its upcoming CG-animated motion picture ASTRO BOY. The film's director, David Bowers and producer, Maryann Garger will be attending Comic-Con on Saturday, July 26, and will be available for media interviews at booth # 3530.
A special-edition ASTRO BOY oversized BAG will also be distributed to anime fans on a limited basis at the show, July 24-27 at the San Diego Convention Center. Visit the Imagi booth #3530 between 11 AM and 4 PM on Saturday, July 26, for our "ASTRO BOY Hair Makeover." Fans will be transformed by getting the superhero's iconic, black pointed-hair look!
Slated for worldwide theatrical release in 2009 from Summit Entertainment, ASTRO BOY will feature the voices of Academy Award®-winning actor Nicolas Cage, Donald Sutherland, Bill Nighy, Nathan Lane and Eugene Levy with Freddie Highmore in the title role. David Bowers (SHARK TALE) is directing from a screenplay written by Timothy Harris, with Maryann Garger producing (MADAGASCAR).
ASTRO BOY was created by the "god of manga", Japan's Osamu Tezuka, in the early 1950s. The iconic character has since found wide popularity around the world as the hero of three acclaimed animated television series spanning over four decades, besides being one of the top licensed properties for merchandising. Set in futuristic Metro City, Astro Boy is about a young robot with incredible powers created by a brilliant scientist. Our hero embarks on a journey in search of adventure in a netherworld of robot gladiators before he returns to save Metro City. ASTRO BOY is the second CG-animated feature film from Imagi Studios, following on the success of its 2007 box office hit, TMNT.
Imagi's first theatrical movie, TMNT was released in March 2007, opening #1 in U.S. box office revenue, only the third time in history that an Asian-made film has achieved that honor. Imagi has development operations in Los Angeles, California, and CG production studios at its Hong Kong headquarters.
People of England, check this out! You lucky Brits are in for a real treat here. Barbican Film is marking the 80th anniversary of Osamu Tezuka's birthday with an incredible line up of films. All sorts of movies, shorts, TV episodes, and rare programming is on tap in what might just be the biggest and most comprehensive series of Tezuka screenings anywhere in the world. Some of the notable films include the colorized 60's animated movie Astro Boy: The Brave In Space, the 1997 movie version of Jungle Emperor Leo, the crazy crossover Marine Express, Phoenix 2772/Space Firebird, Unico, and more.
It happens from Thursday September 18th to Wednesday September 24th 2008, and if I lived anywhere close to London, England, I would be there every single day.
Check out the details on ANN and Otaku News.
"One of the things that I'm working on now is an adaptation of Cyborg 009, which is a Japanese comic book character and an animation series from the '60s, which I grew up with. Japanese animation is very popular all over the world, so a lot of it is being adapted into animated features."Peter Chung is a world class artist with tons of experience, so it's very cool to see that someone like him is involved with drawing storyboards for this movie. It is obviously unknown at this point if any of the sequences he boarded are still in the film, since there was a change in directors, so we'll see how it plays out.
"Yeah, I've written a story and redesigned the characters. It's funny, late last year I worked on the Astro Boy movie -- I did storyboards on that -- and I'm working on an adaptation of Wicked City. With a lot of those projects, I guess I end up getting involved because they were such a big source of inspiration for me. But those are adaptations."
What's more is pretty much the first real bit of news I've ever read about the long speculated Cyborg 009 movie! Awesome! I love Cyborg 009 and have always thought it would make a great movie. I think I'll be keeping an eye on that one too!
To make archiving and keeping tabs of all the news easier, I'm creating this single post with links to all of the coverage AstroBoy World gave to the news regarding the upcoming Astro Boy animated movie to come out of AX this year. All sorts of information about the story, the visuals, the tone of the film, and the cast was revealed. Get up to date by reading these links.
Anime Expo 2008 - Initial announcement of Imagi's involvement at the convention.
Anime Expo Backstage - Pictures of the booth and links to a video.
Interview with Movie Director and Producer! David Bowers and Maryann Garger speak! Nicolas Cage is confirmed as the voice of Dr. Tenma.
New Astro Won't Stray Far - More with David Bowers about how the film will be staying close to the classic story, with a few new and interesting changes, including a floating city.
Astro Voice Talent Is Tops - David Bowers talks about the movie's voice actors and their performances. Confirmed here are Bill Nighy as the voice of Dr. Elefun and Nathan Lane as the voice of HamEgg.
IGN at AX: David Bowers Talks Astro Boy - Another interview with David Bowers. Lots of detail on the movie, plus confirmation on Donald Sutherland as the voice of General Stone. Ryan Stiles and David Alan Grier are mentioned for the first time as being on the cast as well.
AWM at AX - Animation World Magazine's coverage of Anime Expo, with some focus on Astro Boy.
Astro on Video from Anime Expo - A great video of Imagi's booth surrounded by enthusiastic fans, plus a very small glimpse of some early animation.
Keep checking AstroBoy World for all the latest news on the AstroBoy movie as it comes in!
Saturday, July 12, 2008
Animation World Magazine has a recap of all the sights and sounds from Anime Expo last weekend. Included in the 2 page report is some coverage of the animated Astro Boy movie set for release in 2009. It's nothing we haven't heard before, but it goes to show how the word on this movie is really getting out there. Here are the Astro-related paragraphs.
Finally, Imagi Studios, who brought you TMNT in 2007, is set to release Astro Boy in theaters in Fall 2009. Created in the 1950s by the so-called "god of manga" Osamu Tezuka, Astro Boy is the tale of a young robot created by a scientist of Metro City to replace his lost son. When the relationship breaks down, the young hero then embarks on a quest to find his place in the world, which ultimately leads him back to Metro City and a confrontation with the creator who rejected him.For a great picture of the entire Anime Expo experience, make sure you check out AWN's Scenes From The 2008 Anime Expo article.
David Bowers, the director, spent an afternoon at the Imagi Studios booth talking about the project. While he was careful not to give away any spoilers, he did explain that he has had "a lifelong affection for the original Astro Boy," and that he strongly believes that the emotional content of the story is ripe for the big screen. Having just helmed the successful Flushed Away, and with a long history in the animation business, Bowers seems confident that this new rendition of an anime classic will be a surprise for audiences of all ages.
Astro Boy definitely seems to have the creative talent to bring off a potent recreation. The problem, after all, with revitalizing older anime is that their vision of the future is now outdated. It will be interesting to see how David Bowers and Imagi Studios recreate the world of Metro City. But everything sounds promising, and they have assembled an outstanding cast: Nicolas Cage, Donald Sutherland, Bill Nighy, Nathan Lane, Eugene Levy and Freddie Highmore. I'll be keeping my eye on this one.
Tuesday, July 8, 2008
Another interview with Astro Boy CGI movie director David Bowers has surfaced, this time with IGN. He goes into a bit of detail on his vision of the film, the casting, and how it's coming together. The intro text to the interview also mentions that Donald Sutherland is the voice of General Stone (though it also incorrectly says that Nicolas Cage is Dr. Elefun, when we know he actually is Dr. Tenma), and lists two cast members that had yet to be announced, comedians Ryan Stiles and David Alan Grier.
Pretty exciting to get such a big barrage of info over the past few days, and to see the elements of the film start to take shape. Read the interview yourself at IGN Movies or click the link below for the archived copy.
AX08: David Bowers Talks Astro Boy
The director on the upcoming manga-to-film.
by Scott Lowe
July 8, 2008 - During our visit to 2008's Anime Expo at the Los Angeles Convention Center, we were able to meet up with director David Bowers at the Imagi Animation Studios booth. Bowers, whose directorial debut was 2006's Flushed Away, is helming the upcoming CGI animated film adaptation of the popular anime/manga series Astro Boy. The film is slated for a Fall 2009 release and will feature the voices of Freddie Highmore as Astro Boy, Nicolas Cage as Dr. Elefun, and Donald Sutherland as General Stone. Other talents attached to the project include Bill Nighy, Nathan Lane, Eugene Levy, Ryan Stiles, and David Alan Grier.
IGN: We understand that you are about halfway to completing Astro Boy.
David Bowers: Yes. We are a year out. The whole movie is at some stage of production. But we've got our story nailed down, we've got most of our actors recorded. We have been doing a little re-recording, but we are pretty far in; far enough in to feel confident about the movie.
IGN: We were also told that the casting isn't entirely finalized at this point.
Bowers: It's still a work in progress. We have all of the big characters, but it's a bit of a journey movie. Astro Boy gets cast out and there's a long way to go in his development, and so there is a lot of characters he meets along the way. A lot of funny characters, some more serious than others, but we are still tying down the last few..
IGN: What was the casting process like? What drew you to Nicolas Cage?
Bowers: He has an extraordinary voice, its very idiosyncratic -- really unusual. He's such an unusual, surprising, and exciting actor. I encourage actors to go crazy with the script; it's a very collaborative process. For someone like Nic Cage, it's all about what he brings to a role. It's amazing, he sounds fantastic. He plays Astro Boy's father and he's really funny in the role, but really serious, dark, and emotional at the same time.
IGN: What about Freddie Highmore? Was he your first pick for the character of Astro Boy?
Bowers: Yes. I love Freddie. My goal is to get the best actors possible for every role, and I don't think there is any actor Freddie's age working today that is as diverse as he is. He's a chameleon; he can slip into any role. He's so likable and his voice is so charming. I mean, he's doing an American accent in this movie as well.
IGN: Like he did in The Spiderwick Chronicles.
Bowers: Yes, and August Rush as well.
IGN: Astro Boy is a bit of a retro manga/anime series, and of course Speed Racer was as well. Was there anything you learned from that film in terms of revitalizing more dated manga/anime?
Bowers: Not really, I think we are going in a different direction entirely. I liked a lot of things about Speed Racer, but it was almost too retro. With our movie, if you look at the old Astro Boy manga, it does look a little bit retro, a little bit stylized by the 1950s. But at the time, it was futuristic, cutting edge, and modern. We are reintroducing Astro Boy and our movie is futuristic, cutting edge, and modern as well. So it doesn't have that retro feel. The emotional story of Astro Boy, the story of a boy being cast out by his father is timeless. You could tell that as a medieval story, or as a caveman story, it could be anything. It's just a good emotional story, and we haven't really focused on paying any lip service to any one time or previous incarnation, although it is faithful.
IGN: You've obviously had a lengthy career in the animation field, having worked on Who Framed Roger Rabbit, An American Tail, and Shark Tale, but your directorial debut was Flushed Away. How does it feel to be back in the director's chair?
Bowers: I love it. I'm very fortunate. I've been able to work with some amazing actors and I've got an amazing crew. The production designers are exceptional, and I was fortunate enough to spend some time with the crew in Hong Kong. It's very hectic, you know. There is just so much to do. But at the same time it's nice, especially when it's a property you really believe in, something you really want to do. It's also very different from Flushed Away as well. For Flushed Away, for me, it was all about the jokes. We had an emotional story, but it was all about gag-after-gag. This is a more emotional story. Which isn't to say there aren't a lot of jokes and humor, but it's a different kind of movie.
IGN: By taking a property that has already been established, already conceptualized, the battle often becomes deciding whether to stay true to the original or make something new out of it. Which would you say you lean towards with Astro Boy?
Bowers: Before I came onto the movie, I pitched my vision of it to everyone at Imagi. I wanted to be sure that it was a movie that I would enjoy making, a movie that I felt invested in, and a movie that I wanted to make. And everyone loved it and was very supportive. But at the same time, if something is working the phrase "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" is true. We've updated the look slightly, but the story is timeless. I think people who love Astro Boy are going to be pleased.
IGN: What about the property really drove you to want to do this film?
Bowers: I like Astro Boy, he's not well known over here but he is fairly well known in England. The first movie I saw in a theater was Pinocchio and it had a profound effect on me, there are a lot of similarities between Astro Boy and Pinocchio and I couldn't really resist it.
And yet more big news on the CGI animated Astro Boy movie rolls in. Sci Fi Wire strikes again with a great article that has quotes from director David Bowers, who talks about how the appeal of the story has brought together the incredible voice cast that they've assembled for the film. Also, a few cast members have been revealed as to which characters they will be playing.
Nicolas Cage is once again confirmed to be playing Dr. Tenma, Astro's creator. And it seems at this point that the character will indeed be named Dr. Tenma, not Dr. Tanner as has been previously stated.
Bill Nighy is Dr. Elefun (Dr. Ochanomizu in Japanese), the kindly head of the Ministry of Science with curly white hair and a giant nose.
Nathan Lane is HamEgg, the crooked circus owner. Absolutely brilliant casting on that one!
There's also a mention on how these actors are adding their own personal touches to the dialoge via improvisation. Read the article for yourself on Sci Fi Wire. A copy is also being kept here for posterity at the link below.
12:00 AM, 08-JULY-08
Astro Voice Talent Is Tops
David Bowers, who is directing the upcoming animated feature Astro Boy, told SCI FI Wire that the appeal of the original manga and comic-book series helped attract big-name actors such as Nicolas Cage to the project.
"A guy like Nicolas Cage, he's a big comic-book fan anyway, as everybody knows, but he does like Astro Boy," Bowers said in an interview at the Anime Expo in Los Angeles on July 5. "He's a big fan of Astro Boy. He brings such a lot to the role."
In the new film, Cage provides the voice of Dr. Tenma, a scientist who loses his son and creates a robot, Astro Boy (voiced by Freddie Highmore), to replace him. In the original 1950s manga and subsequent 1960s anime TV series, Astro Boy is rejected by his creator and left to fend for himself in the world. Bowers said that his version will be a bit lighter in tone and more forgiving of Dr. Tenma's actions.
"We have a slightly more sympathetic look at Dr. Tenma in this movie," he said. "[Cage has] given a wonderful performance. I think your heart breaks for him. At the same time, there's a lot of comedy in the manga as well. We have Nathan Lane as HamEgg and Bill Nighy playing Dr. Elefun, and he's terrific in it. And we have a lot of new characters as well. We have a lot of very fun robots. I think there's a lot of comedy in the movie. But, again, it's a very emotional story."
Bowers, a former animator who made his directorial debut in 2006 with the computer-animated feature Flushed Away, said that he was able to get his first choice when casting the film's main roles thanks to a strong script.
"I always want to get the best actors for the roles that I can get," Bowers said. "And I've been very fortunate on Astro Boy that everyone we've approached has agreed. They're all a little dubious at first. They all want to read the script. And they read the script, and they're really keen. They love it, and they want to come on board. So it's very encouraging."
It's also important, Bowers added, that the actors feel free to diverge from the script in their performances.
"I try to be a little free with the script and sort of encourage the actors to bring as much to the role as they can," Bowers said. "So when you have people like Nick and Bill Nighy and Freddie, they come with so much experience and talent, you don't want to hem them in. So my instinct is just to let them go and offer suggestions and push it as far as I can and then try bringing it back. It's interesting. We have time to play around with it a little as well." Astro Boy is set for release in the fall of 2009. --Cindy White
When the long awaited first volume of Vertical's Black Jack manga is released this September, there will be an exclusive hard cover version available only from Diamond Comics Distributors. This version has different artwork on the cover, and contains a previously unpublished 20-page story!
From what I have gathered, the first 3 volumes will have hard cover exclusives from Diamond, and each of these 3 will feature a story that will not be included in the mass released soft cover version. These exclusive stories are likely to be some of the Black Jack episodes that were rarely or never reprinted in Japan, usually for being deemed as too controversial. English speaking audiences are getting a very special bonus here!
You can read the listing for the first volume of the hard cover exclusive on Diamond's own Previews website.
More news from Anime Expo has rolled in!
Sci Fi Wire has posted a great interview with Astro Boy movie director David Bowers, where he explains how the film will be staying close to the classic Astro story that we know and love, while giving us a few interesting new details.
"The characters are all there," Bowers said in an interview at the Anime Expo in Los Angeles on July 5. "It is the original characters, but we have new characters, and Astro's basic journey is the same. He starts off in a slightly different environment. Astro's living in this floating city. But that's where the differences end, really. I must say, I just wanted to get to the emotional core of the movie and have people have a few laughs along the way and hopefully make them cry a couple of times. Then I'll be happy."Floating city? Cool!
While short, this article should really help to alleviate some fan's fears as to what direction the film is heading in. You can read the full article on Sci-Fi Wire. You can also click the link below to read a copy that is saved here for posterity.
New Astro Won't Stray Far
David Bowers, who is currently directing the upcoming animated feature Astro Boy, told SCI FI Wire that it will not veer far from the story told in the original manga and the later animated TV series.
"The characters are all there," Bowers said in an interview at the Anime Expo in Los Angeles on July 5. "It is the original characters, but we have new characters, and Astro's basic journey is the same. He starts off in a slightly different environment. Astro's living in this floating city. But that's where the differences end, really. I must say, I just wanted to get to the emotional core of the movie and have people have a few laughs along the way and hopefully make them cry a couple of times. Then I'll be happy."
The new film features the voice of Freddie Highmore (The Spiderwick Chronicles) as the title character, a robot built by a scientist to replace his deceased son. When the scientist, voiced by Nicolas Cage, rejects him, he sets off on his own to find his place in the world.
Astro Boy, originally created by Japanese artist Osama Tezuka, first appeared in a manga series in the early 1950s. It became a popular animated television series in the 1960s and was later revived in the 1980s and, most recently, in 2003. Until now, however, the iconic character has never appeared in a theatrical film.
Bowers said that the timelessness of the story, combined with advances in animation technology, have made this the perfect time to bring the character back once again.
"I think the fact that the story has survived five decades ... I'm not going to start comparing it to Shakespeare--but good stories tend to last for a reason," Bowers said. "It's a simple, dramatic story that's as relevant now as it was then. Astro Boy in the 1950s, if you look at the original manga, it looks a little bit old-fashioned and a little bit quaint in its way. But it's worth remembering that at the time it came out and was a big success it was absolutely cutting-edge and futuristic and amazing-looking. And that's what our Astro Boy is going to be. We're going to be sort of reintroducing Astro Boy, but it's a very, very modern movie. But this universal theme that I think is timeless is still running through it." Astro Boy is set for release in the fall of 2009. --Cindy White
Those cool cats at Collider have really been on the ball with the Astro Boy movie, and now they've scored themselves an interview with Director David Bowers and Producer Maryann Garger. This is a great interview that gives us pretty much the biggest and clearest information on the movie that we've gotten so far. It's a must read for any fan.
It also seems to confirm that, as I speculated, Nicolas Cage will be playing the part of Doctor Tenma, Astro's creator. Excellent casting!
Read the exclusive interview on Collider. I'm also keeping a copy of it here for posterity, so you can also read it by clicking the link below, but do make sure that you go to Collider's website and thank them for getting the interview and giving coverage to the movie.
ASTRO BOY – Exclusive Interview with Director David Bowers and Producer Maryann Garger
Written by Cal Kemp
The space around Imagi Entertainment's booth was packed this past weekend at Los Angeles' Anime Expo as convention-goers got a look at some of the earliest footage from the upcoming "Astro Boy" feature film. Imagi -- the same company behind last year's "TMNT" -- is bringing Osamu Tezuka's classic character to life in a major way.
Fans will be happy to hear that the look of Astro Boy is a perfect match to the classic appearance of Metro City's champion; the orphaned robot, Astro. The footage -- which compared shots against previous animated versions of the character -- manages to faithfully deliver Tezuka's world through fresh eyes.
Director David Bowers (who also directed 2006's "Flushed Away") reteams with Producer Maryann Garger (who co-produced the same) and seemed pretty pleased with excitement on people's faces as they saw Astro Boy in action. They spoke briefly with Collider about their work on "Astro Boy" so far.
Collider: Can you tell me a little about the origins of the project?
Maryann: Well, the property started in the early 50's originally as a manga in Japan and there was a successful TV show in the early 60's. There was another TV series in the 80's and 2000 and this is the first time it's hitting the big screen so we're very excited.
David: For me, I've always loved "Astro Boy" so when I heard that the project was being done and that the project was in development, I sort of tried to find out as much as I could about it. Luckily, I'd worked with Maryann before. It just seemed like the right movie for me at the right time.
Collider: How long ago did you start looking at bringing "Astro Boy" to the big screen?
Maryann: It was in development -- David and I had worked together on "Flushed Away". I was co-producer and he was the director. So when this property sort of started in development, we've always been in contact since "Flushed Away". It was a natural fit to reunite to take "Astro Boy" to the big screen.
David: We've been working together for a long time. (Laughs).
Maryann: Maybe fifteen years!
Collider: Both of your backgrounds began with 2-D animation; What was it like making the transition to CGI?
David: For me, it's a different set of technical issues. There are things that are easier to do in 2-D and things that are easier to do in 3-D. I find that 3-D's actually a little more difficult. Just technically, there's so much more actual work involved for the artists. As a director, it doesn't really make that much of a difference at all. I'm still looking for a great story. I'm still looking to make the characters rich. I'm still working with actors and working with tremendously talented artists in pretty much the same way. Luckily, the shield me from all the technical gobblety gook. The stuff that would just baffle me, technically. I'm free to work on the story and the action and make sure it's a good movie. So for me, not much of a transition at all.
Collider: Tell us a little about where the story is coming in. Is this an origin story or is it more a continuation?
David: It is [the origin]. I love classic super-hero origin stories. I love Richard Donner's Superman. I wanted to produce a film about Astro Boy that would sort of live up to the legend of Astro Boy and do him proud. It didn't want to make it cheap or pop-culturey. That's what's very sort of very popular in modern animation. Really, I just wanted to take it and make a fairly straight film, emotionally. It's really a very emotional story. The basic story is very, very sad about a boy robot who's built to replace a scientist's dead son and then the scientist finds he can't love him and throws him out. He has to go through all levels of Hell to sort of find his place in the world. That's such a great story and we worked very, very hard to make sure that it was emotionally and dramatically terrific. In the meantime, we sort of put in all these new characters that Astro meets along his journey. That all sort of adds comedy and fun. It's a respective film but it's a modern film.
Collider: You have this huge, A-list cast; How did that come together?
Maryann: We worked very hard to get that cast.
David: We did work very hard! But at the same time, a guy like Nicolas Cage, for example, was perfect for the role of Doctor Tenma, Astro's father. We approached him and we weren't sure what kind of reaction we were going to get. But it turns out that he loves Astro Boy and was very, very excited about the project. We spoke to him and showed him the work we'd been doing. He loved it. He was on board straight away. And he's a great actor. He's done some amazing stuff for us so far. With Freddie Highmore, I wanted a young actor who can do the emotional side of things but Freddie has a light side to him as well. I think he's just one of the most talented young actors working today. We were very lucky to get him. The rest of our cast is fantastic, too! Donald Sutherland is a legend. Nathan Lane I've seen on-stage in so many productions and loved him and loved his movie works. Eugene Levy; He's hilarious. We've got a great role for him in this movie. He improvised a lot and so much of his stuff is fantastic. We've been very, very lucky with our cast.
Collider: Are you already looking at "Astro Boy" as a series of films?
David: I think things are only eyed as franchises when the first one makes a lot of money so we'll see! (Laughs) Obviously, with Astro Boy the story can go on and on and on. We only really touch on Astro Boy in this movie. I think that at the end of our movie we've set everything up. We're really at a point where we understand Astro Boy and Astro Boy's world. Everything's set for the stories that came later.
Collider: The designs look very true to the original manga. Was it hard to convert the 2-D drawings to 3-D animation?
David: No, I always think "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." Astro Boy's an icon. I love the look of him. It really suits my design sensibility to have a character that looks that way. We took a lot more liberties with the other characters like Doctor Tenma. Bringing them into the 3-D world was a little more difficult. I think we've found a real nice balance between 3-D CGI and the characters' 2-D illustrations. We've been working closely with the Ozuka estate in Tokyo. If we're on the wrong track, we get their input and are bumped back. "It might be a little cuter if..."
Collider: How has the fan response been so far?
David: Well, we're just putting it out there. But they've been really enthusiastic. I mean, I love Astro Boy and it's so great to see so many other people looking forward to seeing it on the big screen.
Collider: Do you know, either of you, what you'll be working on after "Astro Boy"?
David: I'm going to be working on my tan. (Laughs) I don't know. I don't know yet. I've got a couple of projects in development.
"Astro Boy" is slated for release in 2009.
Monday, July 7, 2008
Showbiz news source Variety has an short article about the future plans of Imagi now that they have a new investor. The article mentions that Imagi aims to produce 4 CGI Animated films from 2009 to 2011. Astro Boy and Gatchaman are mentioned in the article, but there is no new significant news on either of them. You can read the article yourself right here.
I'm very happy to see that Imagi has more yet to come. It will be very interesting to see what films they create next.
Sunday, July 6, 2008
As reported earlier, Imagi had a booth set up this weekend at Anime Expo to promote the upcoming Astro Boy animated movie. AXBackstage has some coverage of the booth, complete with a great look at an incredible sculpture and a (very) brief glimpse of some early footage.
Check out the video right here (select "AXBackstage Astro Boy" from the menu below the video player) and see some pictures here.
I can't host a copy of the video on my own site, but I do have the pictures, which I am keeping below for posterity's sake.
Thanks to Al for the tip!
Friday, July 4, 2008
MovieWeb is holding a contest where winners receive an awesome Astro Boy T-Shirt.
This looks to be the same shirt that's being given away at Anime Expo this weekend. So if you're not going to be at AX, this could be your chance to get a shirt! All you have to do is enter your e-mail address in the Astro Boy box here.
I've entered too. I really want one! If any of you readers manage to win a shirt, let me know. Good luck!
BLACK JACK. YES.
My absolute favorite of all of Tezuka's characters is finally getting an English language manga release in its entirety from Vertical Publishing. The first 300 page volume will be released next month. Subsequent volumes will be released bi-monthly.
To kick things off, Vertical has now unveiled a Black Jack section of their website, complete with a free 20 page preview that you can read, featuring a classic and incredibly moving story about a killer whale. Reading this manga is an experience like no other, and everyone has got to check it out. I'll be looking forward to picking up the first volume, and every single one after that!
TAG Blog brings us a glimpse of Imagi in a new article, which contains a few words from Imagi staffers. Not much in the way of new news on the Astro Boy movie but there are a few little details about Gatchaman, with a piece of concept art, as well as some insight on how things are running at their Galleria offices in Sherman Oaks.
"Imagi is doing something I think every c.g. studio should do. We're taking character models, and only working with them on paper for maybe a week. Then we get those early, rougher models into the computers and do all the rest of the modeling work there. It really helps getting them into 3-D mode earlier, because that's the world they're going to exist in."Read it in its entirety on TAG Blog: At Imagi.
Thursday, July 3, 2008
I recently stumbled upon this interesting interview on Animation World Magazine that was conducted by Nancy Cartwright, best known as the voice of Bart Simpson, with fellow voice actress Candi Milo, who played Astro in the English dub of the 2003 Astro Boy anime. It's a fascinating look at the voice over industry.
On the second page of the interview, when asked about what her most challenging job was, Candi responds by saying:
"I think the most challenging job I have done was voicing Astro Boy on the revival of the iconic series. Astro Boy is the Mickey Mouse of Japan and it was an unbelievable honor to be chosen to voice this. The tough part was, because Sony did it in cooperation with Japan, the Japanese actress and I laid voices to picture simultaneously -- 65 episodes of ADR. Yikes! It was very hard to create character, place emotion and character arc within the confines of anime expressions; arched eyebrows, thin line mouth, oval line mouth. Another tough aspect of this particular job was not being allowed to audition for the role I created for the Sony feature film. It actually hurt."Obviously she has a lot of respect for the character and worked really hard on her role, although there were only 50 episodes, not 65.
I'm not sure if she is mistakenly referring to the currently in development Astro Boy movie by Imagi or the previous attempt at bring Astro to the big screen, which did not get off the ground. Sony did have the rights to Astro Boy, and a lot of work was done to make that movie happen, but I'm unsure if they had ever gotten to the point where they'd hold auditions. Obviously that movie never happened and Sony has nothing to do with the animated film that's coming out next year.
Anyway, while Candi's performance as Astro was well done, despite problems with the English adaptation, it's unfortunately not at all uncommon for film producers to not want much of anything to do with anyone associated with a cartoon version a property they're making a movie out of.
Things have come full circle as the live action movie "Speed Racer", based on the classic Japanese anime, has been released to theaters in Japan this week. To mark the occasion, the Japan Times has a pair of articles, written by Patrick Macias, about the original anime.
'Speed Racer': drawing on an anime legend is an incredible interview with Ippei Kuri, one of the founders of Tatsunoko and creators of "Mahha GoGoGo", and 'Americanizing' a cartoon classic focuses on Peter Fernandez, who adapted the Japanese series into the series known internationally as Speed Racer.
It's interesting to note that Speed Racer was a much bigger hit outside Japan than it was in its own country. And yet, the Speed Racer movie hasn't done very well and is considered to be a box office disappointment. How will Japan accept the film, and what bearing does it have, if any, on the Astro Boy movie?
I saw this recently on the header image of my iGoogle page.
Look closely at that monitor. That's the infamous new creation, LardAss-tro Boy, along with the Lily Franky mascot. Atom is taken aback by how bizarre this interpretation of himself is, while Ochanomizu seems to find it interesting. He can't possibly be impressed by the awkward craftsmanship of such a robot, can he? Meanwhile, Uran looks to be snickering to herself over how silly her brother looks on TV.
Stay tuned to ABW for more important and exciting LardAss-tro Boy news as it develops.