Video Game website Kotaku has a new opinion piece about Astro Boy, largely inspired news of the upcoming Astro Boy videogame coinciding with the CG Animated movie coming to theaters this fall.
In this article, an important question is asked: Why isn't Astro Boy in more video games?
An excellent question, don't you think?
While no firm answers are given, there is some discussion about Astro's prior video game outings, as well as the connection to Mega Man. It's quite an interesting read.
The image to the right is from "Astro Boy: Omega Factor" for the Nintendo GameBoy Advance. It's one of my favorite games ever and I hope to get a chance to write more about it here some time.
You can read "Our Missing Video Game Robot Hero" on Kotaku or by clicking the link below for an archived version.
Our Missing Video Game Robot Hero
By AJ Glasser, 2:00 PM on Wed May 27 2009
Osamu Tezuka's beloved boy robot, Astro Boy, defined an art form, inspired a nation, and is a cultural icon worthy of the Robot Hall of Fame. So why doesn't he get more video games?
Not counting his first Japan-only forays on the Famicom and Superfamicom, Astro Boy has only appeared in one PlayStation 2 game and one GameBoy Advance game. The year was 2004 and both Sonic Team and Treasure Inc. (partnered with Hitmaker) developed games based on the 2003 anime remake of the original 1960s Astro Boy cartoon. Sonic Team's PS2 game, Astro Boy, was pretty lousy while Hitmaker/Treasure's GBA Astro Boy: Omega Factor was one of the best things to happen to handhelds that year. Since then, we've got nothing but a quietly-announced, never-demoed tie-in game to the upcoming CGI Astro Boy film directed by David Bowers.
Astro Boy's absence from video games could be due to many reasons – licensing, marketing, etc. – but two big ticket items ultimately tank any hopes of a serious Astro Boy gaming franchise: demand and need.
There's not enough demand for Astro Boy video games in the United States because we don't love him the way they do in Japan. The 1960s cartoon didn't even complete its full 193-episode run in the States when it originally aired in 1963; and it took decades before Dark Horse Comics to translate and publish the manga. Poor Astro Boy just wasn't on the radar as America's resident robot hero.
Back in 1960s Japan, when Astro Boy was first created, there was a desperate need for heroes. World War II had been over for more than a decade, but there was a loss of hope in the country and a profound fear of technology and nuclear weapons*. Anime and manga icons like Astro Boy and Ashita no Joe restored to Japan a sense of purpose and youthful optimism they'd lost in the war. Also, science-y things like Astro Boy put a friendly, rosy-cheeked face on technology, which helped the country cope with the devastating fear inspired by the A-bomb attacks.
In short, Japan needed Astro Boy and America didn't. Without the need for the robot boy hero, America never established a connection to Astro Boy that would inspire parents to make their children watch the 1960s cartoon. Later when the 2003 reboot of the anime series reached America, the show still couldn't find its audience and was canceled after spawning the hideous PS2 game and the wonderful GBA game.
That's not to say America can live without robot heroes.
We have one, in fact, and his name is Mega Man. Mega Man does most of the same stuff as Astro Boy – he even has the beam cannon on his arm – and he beat Tezuka's beloved boy robot to the US gaming scene by a good decade or more. He may not be as fleshed-out a character as Astro Boy, because Mega Man didn't start out with a manga or cartoon series to establish his back story. But he did have the whole filial piety thing going on with his creator, Dr. Light, which was similar to the connection Astro Boy had for his adoptive father figure, Dr. O'Shay (a.k.a. Dr. Ochanomizu, Dr. Packadermus Elefun, Professor Peabody, Jimmy Durante's nose-twin). So what if Mega Man wasn't about childlike wonder or youthful optimism; so what if he never did anything serious like address racism against robots. Mega Man was about kicking robot ass and Americans can totally get in on that.
So, alas, Astro Boy. We loved you in Omega Factor and we respect you as a cultural icon worthy of Mickey Mouse's company – which is why you're in the Robot Hall of Fame. But Mickey doesn't have a great gaming franchise and so far, you don't either. Maybe your upcoming tie-in movie game on PS2, Wii, PSP and DS will be good. Heck, maybe the film itself will be awesome. But in the meantime, we'll be sticking with Mega Man 9.
*The Films of Akira Kurosawa, Donald Richie
Saturday, May 30, 2009
Video Game website Kotaku has a new opinion piece about Astro Boy, largely inspired news of the upcoming Astro Boy videogame coinciding with the CG Animated movie coming to theaters this fall.
Previously reported over a year ago, the official English release of Osamu Tezuka's manga "Swallowing the Earth" is finally on its way next month via Digital Manga Publishing.
Thanks to our friends at Tezuka in English, you can read an awesome 25 page preview of this thrilling English-edition manga release.
A quick warning before you start reading. Swallowing the Earth is one of Tezuka's more adult works, and is for mature audiences only.
A full press release about the Swallowing the Earth Manga and the 25 page page preview is available on Anime News Network or by clicking the link below for an archived version.
May 28, 2009 – TezukaInEnglish.com and Digital Manga Publishing are proud to announce an exclusive sneak peek of the "god of manga" Osamu Tezuka's SWALLOWING THE EARTH. This free online preview contains the first 25 pages of the upcoming DMP PLATINUM release, and can be accessed here:
SWALLOWING THE EARTH depicts the mysterious beauty, Zephyrus, and her quest to avenge the wrongs done to women by men over the course of human history. The story represents a turning point in the content of Tezuka's manga, marking a decidedly more adult approach in terms of satiric social commentary and human psychology. Originally written in 1968, SWALLOWING THE EARTH is an important and provocative tale in Tezuka's catalog of work.
Usually released in two volumes, this DMP PLATINUM edition presents the entire manga in one volume. Retailing for $24.95, SWALLOWING THE EARTH will be available for the first time in English in the United States. Also included is an introduction by Tezuka's personal friend and translator, Fred Schodt, author of The Astro Boy Essays.
SWALLOWING THE EARTH- RATED YA+ (for ages 16+), MSRP: $24.95 US, 520 pages, softcover. Available: June 24, 2009
HELL HATH NO FURY LIKE A WOMAN SCORNED.
Amidst the chaos of World War II, two Japanese soldiers hear of Zephyrus, an utterly captivating woman rumored to exist on an island in the South Pacific. The tales of this bold enchantress seducing men to their dooms are both chilling and fascinating. Over twenty years pass, and Zephyrus resurfaces in Japan, seemingly unchanged, to wield her mysterious power over men once more.
The one man immune to Zephyrus' charms is simple drunkard, Gohonmatsu Seki, son of one of the wartime soldiers. Employed to spy on Zephyrus, what will Gohonmatsu uncover about her ultimate plot to create international discord and consume the world of men? What brought this woman to conspire for decades against patriarchal society-against an entire gender-and can anything be done to stop her plans?
OSAMU TEZUKA (Astro Boy, Buddha, Black Jack) is recognized as the father of Japanese manga. For over forty years, his creative and prolific output entertained generations of readers and continues to do so twenty years after his death. A provocative and socially conscious artist, Tezuka's themes remain relevant to this day. Worldwide, his works have been published in numerous languages and adapted in countless media, extending Tezuka's influence far beyond the shores of his homeland.
ABOUT DIGITAL MANGA PUBLISHING: Located in Gardena, CA, Digital Manga Publishing is one of the industry's most unconventional and innovative companies, specializing in building corporate and cultural bridges from Japan to the Western Hemisphere - specifically through the licensing, importation and preparation of anime (Japanese animation), manga (Japanese comic books) and related merchandise for the North American mainstream and subculture markets. In this capacity, DMI serves as a catalyst for the expansion of Japanese pop culture institutions into global arenas. The company's imprint line includes DMP: its mainstream imprint, DMP PLATINUM: its classic manga imprint, JUNE´: its boys love imprint, 801 MEDIA: its adult boys love imprint, and DokiDoki: its exclusive co-publishing imprint with Shinshokan Publishing.
For more information about Digital Manga Publishing, visit www.digitalmanga.com
ABOUT TEZUKA IN ENGLISH: Tezuka InEnglish (www.TezukaInEnglish.com) is an online index to the works of Osamu Tezuka, covering original works, new adaptations, fan activities and translations in English and other European languages. It began as a fan site but has since worked with numerous American publishers of Tezuka's works to support and promote English Tezuka releases. Since Tezuka Productions took down the English Language version of their official website, TezukaInEnglish.com has been working in partnership with them as the primary English language online resource for Tezuka's works until the new official page (http://tezukaosamu.net/) finishes constructing its English language version.
Wednesday, May 27, 2009
Thanks again to GoNintendo, here is an updated look at what should be the final box art for the upcoming Astro Boy video game, developed by High Voltage Software and set for release this fall through D3 Publisher.
Looks like they'll be using unique artwork instead of the movie poster, which I certainly approve of.
Thursday, May 21, 2009
I will be at Anime North this weekend, in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
You'll be able to find me speaking at the following panels:
- How to Draw Manga
- The Mecha Panel
- Classic Anime
You can bet that I'll be talking about Astro Boy and the upcoming CGI Film! Check the schedules for exact times and locations. I will likely be wearing an Astro T-Shirt on at least one of the 3 days, so if you see me come up and say hi!
Looking forward to an awesome show!
The first issue of the Astro Boy Prequel comic by IDW Publishing was released last week.
If you haven't picked it up yet, you can read more about it and check out a 5 page preview on Comics Continuum.
Geeking Out Comic Peek O' The Week has given the book a good review on their YouTube video.
The individual issues will be released monthly this summer and the entire story will be collected into one book this fall.
Deigo - The art looks great! Good job. my friend!
Friday, May 15, 2009
The Japanese town of Takarazuka is about to get promoted in a big way! The hometown of Osamu Tezuka will be using one of his most famous creations, Princess Knight (Ribbon no Kishi), to attract tourism.
This, of course, makes perfect sense, as Takarazuka is well known for its theatrical performances where all of the roles, even the male characters, are played by ladies. Princess Knight is the story of a princess who masquerades as a male prince, so it's a perfect fit.
The image to the right is from a 2006 stage musical based on Princess Knight done in Takarazuka style, with an all female cast. I found it here.
InsideJapan News Network has the full story on Takarazuka's new mascot. You can also click the link below for an archived version. I'll be looking for more info on this, including pictures, very soon.
The hometown of celebrated manga illustrator Osamu Tezuka is to be promoted by one of his most well-known creations.
Ribon no Kishi (Princess Knight) will be involved in a number of events aimed at attracting tourists to the area of Takarazuka, reports Kyodo News.
The character will be played by two students from Kyoto University and Osaka University, who were selected from dozens of applicants and will wear costumes to represent the princess.
One of the students, Hiroko Sadato, told the news provider: "I will cheer up Takarazuka."
Her colleague Ayuko Sogo remarked: "I will play this big role with a big smile."
They will both be involved in a range of promotional activities which will be held until 2011.
Mr Tezuka began his manga career in 1946 creating illustrations for a publication aimed at children.
Fans of manga visiting the Japanese capital Tokyo may want to stop off at the Mandarake retail outlet, which offers everything from anime models to manga comics.
As reported by Variety, Douglas Glen, the CEO and chairman of Hong Kong based animation studio Imagi, is stepping down from his post. Board member William Courtauld has become the acting CEO, and a search has begun to find a full replacement. Mr. Glen will remain at Imagi in a consulting role for the next 6 months, and the day to day operations at Imagi should not be effected.
Please join me in thanking Douglas Glen for his contributions to Imagi and their upcoming animated Astro Boy movie, and in wishing him all the best in his future endeavors.
The image to the right comes from this article about TMNT, which is still an interesting read even 2 years after its release. I've also tracked down this article about the Asian film industry that has quotes from Mr. Glen about Imagi.
You can read the full details over Douglas Glen's resignation on Variety or by clicking the link below for an archived version right here.
Imagi topper ankles
Douglas Glen exits post
By DAVE MCNARY
Douglas Glen, the chairman and CEO of Hong Kong-based Imagi Intl. Holdings Ltd., has resigned.
In an announcement Sunday, Imagi said it's begun a search for Glen's replacement and that board member William Courtauld has become acting CEO.
Glen joined Imagi in late 2006. Most recently, he oversaw the studio's "Astro Boy," which will be released in October. Imagi said Glen will continue in a consultancy capacity for six months.
Imagi chair Richard Witts said the change will not impact the studio's day-to-day operations. Courtauld said there's a strong pipeline of CG projects in development, including "Gatchaman."
Imagi temporarily suspended "Astro Boy" production in January but resumed in February after completing financing of $25 million.
Pic is helmed by David Bowers. Summit's distributing in the U.S.
Friday, May 8, 2009
Thanks to David from team fortyseven, we now have the official announcement of the Astro Boy video game, based on the upcoming CG Movie by Imagi. The video game is being published by D3Publisher and will be available this fall on Nintendo Wii, Nintendo DS, Playstation 2, and PSP.
What's most exciting about this announcement is that the Wii, DS, and PSP versions of the game are being developed by High Voltage, the creative group responsible for one of the most highly anticipated Wii games of the year, The Conduit. If you're been following development of The Conduit, then you know that these guys are pushing the Wii to do some really impressive stuff. This should bode well for Astro.
The DS version of the game is being developed by Art Co. Ltd. It will likely be a different game all together from the other versions.
According to the press release, the game features an intuitive combat system through both classic platforming and flight combat levels, never before seen enemies, unlockable elements to collect, and butt machine guns. Yes, you read that right. The but machine guns are in the game. There will also be a 2 player co-op mode, and it'll be interesting to see how that works out.
The box art image included with this post was obtained from GoNintendo, but I am not sure if it is final or just temporary.
Read all the details by clicking the link below!
LOS ANGELES – May 7, 2009 – D3Publisher (D3P), a publisher and developer of interactive entertainment software, today announced that it will bring Imagi Studios’ new CG-animated movie, ASTRO BOY, to Wii™, Nintendo DS™, PlayStation®2 computer entertainment system, and the PSP® (PlayStation®Portable) system. Based on the upcoming feature film which itself is inspired by one of the most beloved characters of all time, ASTRO BOY: THE VIDEO GAME will allow players to become Astro Boy, a young boy robot with incredible powers. ASTRO BOY: THE VIDEO GAME is slated to ship worldwide this fall to coincide with the North American and international release of the movie in October 2009 from Summit Entertainment.
“We are confident that the ASTRO BOY: THE VIDEO GAME will be a faithful adaption of the movie by successfully blending action gameplay with immersive storytelling,” said Alison Quirion, vice president of marketing, D3Publisher. “Players of all ages will interact with the much-loved characters from the movie and square off against powerful foes from the movie for a rock solid gameplay experience from start to finish.”
In ASTRO BOY: THE VIDEO GAME, players become the iconic hero, Astro Boy, and take to the streets and skies on an epic adventure to save Metro City from the clutches of the evil President Stone and his robot army. Utilizing Astro’s entire arsenal of iconic weapons and abilities--Finger Lasers, Arm Cannon, Butt Machine Guns and Drill Attacks, players will battle hordes of robot enemies and colossal bosses including some never-before-seen enemies across Metro City and the mysterious Surface. Using an intuitive combat system that adds depth to gameplay, players will experience classic platform action and exhilarating flight combat levels as they use Astro’s unique rocket boosters to hover, avoid enemies and zip out of the way of danger. ASTRO BOY: THE VIDEO GAME offers numerous unlockable and collectible elements that include exclusive art work, different versions of Astro Boy and more, as players live the story solo or side by side with a friend in 2 player co-op mode on Wii and the PlayStation 2 system.
ASTRO BOY: THE VIDEO GAME for Wii, PlayStation 2 system and PSP system is under development by High Voltage Software and Nintendo DS by Art Co. Ltd. The game is currently rated “RP” (“Rating Pending”) by the ESRB.
About ASTRO BOY
Imagi Studios is currently in production on Astro Boy, produced by Maryann Garger, directed by David Bowers (Flushed Away), and written by Timothy Harris (Kindergarten Cop, Trading Places) and Bowers. The CG-animated motion picture features the voices of Freddie Highmore, Kristen Bell, Nathan Lane, Eugene Levy, Matt Lucas, Bill Nighy, Donald Sutherland and Nicolas Cage as ‘Dr. Tenma’.
Set in the future, Astro Boy is a classic superhero origin story about a young robot with incredible powers and his adventure-filled journey in search of his identity and destiny, taking him into a netherworld of robot gladiators before he returns to save Metro City.
The iconic character Astro Boy has found global popularity since his creation in the early 1950s by Japan’s Osamu Tezuka, known as the “god of manga” and “father of anime”, and has been the hero of three acclaimed animated television series aired around the world.
Astro Boy, slated for North American release on October 23, 2009, is being distributed worldwide by Summit Entertainment except for Imagi’s reserved territories of Japan, Hong Kong and China.
About Summit Entertainment, LLC
Summit Entertainment, LLC is a worldwide theatrical motion picture development, financing, production and distribution studio. The studio handles all aspects of marketing and distribution for both its own internally developed motion pictures as well as acquired pictures. Summit Entertainment also represents international sales for both its own slate and third-party product. Summit Entertainment plans to release 10 to 12 films annually.
Imagi International Holdings Limited (Stock Code 585, OTCQX: IINHY) is a listed company on the main board of the Hong Kong Stock Exchange. Imagi Studios’ principal business is the development and production of CG-animated theatrical feature films. Imagi’s first theatrical movie TMNT was released in March 2007, opening #1 in U.S. box office revenue, the first time in history that an Asian animated film achieved that honor. Imagi’s CG production studios are located at its Chai Wan (Hong Kong) corporate headquarters with development and marketing operations based in Los Angeles, California, and an office in Tokyo. Astro Boy is Imagi’s next motion picture for worldwide theatrical release in October 2009. For further information, please visit www.imagi.com.hk.
About High Voltage Software, Inc.
High Voltage Software, Inc. is an award-winning studio that has been developing games and simulations for over 16 years. Located in Hoffman Estates, Illinois, it now employs over 170 staff members. The independent company has successfully produced a wide variety of license-based video game titles that include competitive racing, professional sports, horror, motion picture adaptations, and military simulations, and is now making its foray into original and innovative intellectual properties. More information about High Voltage Software and its products can be found at www.high-voltage.com.
D3Publisher, a subsidiary of D3, Inc., is a leading interactive entertainment publisher and distributor for licensed and original titles for personal computers, major console platforms and handheld systems. D3Publisher has operations in the U.S., U.K., and Japan. The company also owns development studio Vicious Cycle Software, Inc., and its technology platform, Vicious Engine. Recent releases have included Dark Sector®, Dead Head Fred®, Puzzle Quest: Challenge of the Warlords®, Ben 10™: Protector of Earth and BEN 10 ALIEN FORCE™The Game. For more information about D3Publisher, please visit: www.d3publisher.com.
# # #
Dark Sector® is a registered trademark of Digital Extremes. All other trademarks are the property of their respective owners and used with permission. All rights reserved.
Tuesday, May 5, 2009
With special thanks to Jazwares' PR representative Shannon, here are two, extremely high quality images of the Astro Boy figures from the Jazwares Urban Vinyl line, which they are calling “JUVIs” (a play on "Jazwares Urban Vinyl").
Sorry, Even though I was sent this information by PR representative for Jazwares, I have now been told to remove this post, because the images and press release had not yet been approved by Imagi. However, I was also told that when there is new info, AstroBoy World will be bringing it to you first.
My apologies to everyone. I hope no one got into any trouble over this! There was no reason for me to believe that that the information sent to me wasn't ok to share. But, hey, in my book, being told to remove materials from the Internet means that I have truly made it as a Webmaster!
Monday, May 4, 2009
Yet another set of oddities dug up on eBay and discovered via the Astroboy Online Forums. These bizarre, creepy Astro Boy statues are certainly not licensed products and are likely to give you nightmares! But, hey, kudos to creativity, I guess.
This first one has got some kind of Tim Burton-esque Nightmare Before Christmas thing going on. Freaky. Click the images for a larger view.
And then this one is some kind of weird cyborg thing. I don't know.
Both of these eBay auctions ended without any bids. Go figure, right? I am not posting links, but if you're interested, try to find them yourself. Just don't complain if you buy one and it swallows your soul.
Saturday, May 2, 2009
IDW is rolling out brand new comics based on the upcoming CG animated Astro Boy movie, and now we've got a look at the covers of the collected versions, now available for pre-order on Amazon.com. They are set for release on September 29. Let's take a look at the artwork that will be gracing the covers!
Here is the cover image of The Movie Prequel: Underground. It is written by Scott Tipton and drawn by Diego Jourdan, with the cover artwork shown here painted by Ashley Wood.
And here is the cover to The Movie Adaptation. It is also written by Scott Tipton and drawn by E.J. Su, though this cover artwork looks like it's by Diego Jourdan.
I wonder if the cover art is going to stay this way. It seems odd to have Diego's art as the cover to E.J.'s book but not his own book. Perhaps it is just temporary, or perhaps this is the way the company wants it. Diego, E.J., can either of you two gents shed some light on this?
Major thanks go out to the ever-adorable AstroBoyGF from the Astroboy Online forums, who brought these Amazon listings to my attention.
If you're interested in ordering these books, please consider using the Amazon links below, as doing so will help to support the further development of AstroBoy World!
Back in Feburary I posted an article about Naoki Urasawa, the notable manga artist behind the re-imagined Astro Boy story "Pluto". In the article, the possibility of a Pluto movie is brought up.
Cristoph Mark, the original writer of the article, has stopped by AstroBoy World to deliver some more insight into what he knows about this potential film project.
Hi, I'm the writer of the original story. I don't know why I didn't include this in the original article, but Urasawa and Nagasaki both said the Hollywood version of Pluto would be live-action, not animated. There are also a few Japanese companies looking at it for different kinds of releases, but the Hollywood take on Pluto was something I thought we should all hope for...So there you have it. The current plan is that if a Pluto movie is made, and if that movie is developed through the Hollywood system, then it will be a live action movie. However, the possibility also exists that Japanese companies are looking into doing something as well. It will be exciting to see just what ends up happening with it!
Big time thanks go out to Cris for visiting the site and sharing this great bit of info with us!
Up till now, all we've seen of the live action film adaptation of Osamu Tezuka's "MW" is some mysterious, sinister looking Japanese text. But now we've got a full trailer! Take a look right here.
Thanks to Twitch!
You can watch the original teaser trailer here.
Here's a quick article from The Yomiuri Shimbun about the previously reported Osamu Tezuka Exhibition, where Tezuka's desk and work area is on display. It's happening right now in Tokyo.
Renegade surgeon Black Jack, sensitive robot Tetsuwan Atom, dashing gender-bender Princess Sapphire, regal white-maned lion Leo...These and many other characters, from samurai to space aliens, emerged from the fertile imagination of mangaka Osamu Tezuka (1928-1989) to delight manga and anime fans worldwide.
Fans can learn more about the artist at the Osamu Tezuka Exhibition being held through June 21 at the Edo-Tokyo Museum in Sumida Ward, Tokyo, a two-minute walk from Ryogoku Station.
The displays begin with memorabilia of Tezuka's childhood, including several minutes of home movies. There are notebooks in which the boy drew meticulous color pictures of butterflies and other insects, as well as his early attempts at manga-style storytelling.
The show includes dozens of pages of original manga manuscripts the adult Tezuka drew by hand, as well as artifacts such as the desk and chair he used while drawing, and his trademark beret and glasses.
Particular attention is paid to Atom, better known in English as Astro Boy. In addition to manuscript pages, there is a life-sized effigy of Astro Boy lying on a lab table waiting to be brought to life as multicolored lights play over him. A minute or so of footage from Hollywood's upcoming computer-graphic take on the character can also be seen.
The exhibition, in Japanese, is open 9:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m. (to 7:30 p.m. on Saturdays), with final admission 30 minutes before closing. The museum is closed May 7 and Mondays except May 4, 11 and 18. Admission is 1,300 yen for adults, 1,040 yen for university students and 650 yen for high school students and those over 65.
(May. 1, 2009)