Friday, January 29, 2010

Astro Movie Finally hits the UK

That's right, the Astro Boy movie has finally arrived on movie screens in the United Kingdom. I have no idea what took so long, but at least now all you poor, deprived Brits can enjoy this fine film. Show your support for this anime icon as well as Greater Manchester's favorite son, director David Bowers.

Just a reminder to both newcomers and to folks who have already seen the film to share your movie reviews!

So stop reading and go see the movie already! Then come back here and tell everyone what you thought!

In addition to the UK release, Astro Boy has also found its way to other countries, including Venezuela, Costa Rica, and Mexico. Surprisingly, there are still more countries that will be getting the film into the next month, and others that have yet to get a set release date at all at this time. So there is still some money to be made internationally before it's all said and done.

So come on now, rest of the world! It is up to you, now! You've all seen Avatar already, so go give the Astro Boy movie some of the love it deserves!

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Thursday, January 28, 2010

Imagi Closes LA Office

Some unfortunate news coming out of Imagi, the Hong Kong based animation studio responsible for the Astro Boy movie. has the full story. Here's a quote.
"Imagi International Holdings Ltd (OTCBB: IINHY, IINHY message board) has announced large scale review of operations which has mostly negative effect towards the staff.

The company has cut off their US subsidiaries from any funding, the working contracts for 30 employees were terminated and the Los Angeles based office closed. The company was left with only a few important staff members being utilized as consultants and has transferred the functions of the closed office to other contractors."
Very sad to hear that the US office is closed, and my best wishes go out to those who are effected. That said, Imagi has had some tough times and is still resolved to staying active and completing their Gatchaman movie, so perhaps this will wind up being the best solution for now. By the looks of things they will still retain some sort of presence in LA.

Imagi has updated their website recently, with a new logo and a very sharp new design. Let's all hope for an equally revitalized company this new year!

More information can be found thanks to Anime News Network.

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Sunday, January 24, 2010

Crazy Astro Vehicle Toys

I thought it would be fun to post a few images of some interesting and/or weird Astro Boy toys from the past. I have a whole bunch of pictures of this kind of stuff, most of which was discovered on on eBay by myself or members the AstroBoy Online forums.

I like collecting toys but the kinds of things I'm posting here are way before my time and I don't really know much about them. I just find them amusing for one reason or another, mostly because they depict Astro riding in a vehicle that he would probably have no practical use for. If you have any insight into the history of these kinds of trinkets, please post a comment!

Nice wheels, huh? At least the generic car base has sort of a retro-future charm to it that's appropriate for Astro. But would he really ride around in a car that had pictures painted on it of not only himself, but Dr. Elefun too? That be like if Spider-man had a spider-car with a portrait of Uncle Ben on the side.

An Astro plane, again with Dr. Elefun and his giant nose on the tail fin.

I don't really see the point to this one. It's just a firetruck with a picture of Astro on the side for some reason. Maybe this is a specialized truck meant for a crew tasked to put out any fires started by Astro's rocket feet? Yeah, that's the story I'll go with.

I think this Astro Boat is hilarious because of the missiles. It just flies in the face of Astro being a messenger of peace. But I guess the missiles are just painted on so they are no real threat.

I make fun of this stuff, but really, toys like this are sort of cool in their own way. It's a part of merchandising history that is a window into the culture of the time and adds to the mystique of these famous characters. Let me know if you find anything yourself that might be worth posting here.

Don't forget to click on the tags to read prior entries about weird Astro stuff I've posted, and check out the AstroBoyWorld Store to buy some modern merchandise that we can make fun of 20 years from now.

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Monday, January 18, 2010

Astro Boy Movie Special Features

The special features for the North American Blu-Ray release of the Astro Boy movie have been announced. Included on the disk will be:

* Two all-new animated sequences
* Deleted scenes
* Featurettes
* Image gallery
I am assuming this will be true for the DVD release as well. If someone can double check that for me and post in the comments section, that would be great.

The new sequences and deleted scenes are very exciting. I wonder what will be on them. Not sure what the Featurettes and image gallery will entail. They could potentially be really insightful, or they could be self-promotional nonsense. I am quite disappointed over the lack of a commentary track though. Really wanted to hear David Bowers' thoughts on the entire film as it ran.


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Friday, January 15, 2010

Tezuka’s Ayako Licenced!

There was a lot of buzz in the air recently over a new Osamu Tezuka manga license coming from Vertical. Now the word is out on Ayako, an epic drama spanning 704 pages that is set for release in English in October of 2010. It was originally published in 1972 and looks to be very much along the same lines as Tezuka's other dark masterpieces such as MW and Apollo’s Song.

This is some very exciting news and great proof of the success that Tezuka's manga has been finding in captivating the audiences around the world.

You can Pre-order now for a great price and help support AstroBoy World in the process.

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The Robot with Bad Teeth

Along with a few other countries that have yet to see the film, the Astro Boy movie will finally be hitting theaters in the UK on January 29th. With that in mind, The Sun has an interview with Matt Lucas about his character Sparx. Matt has no problem riffing on his fellow Brits when mentioning Sparx's bad teeth.

"You'll see I'm very similar, like Sparx I have no ears and Americans often make jokes about British people having bad teeth and it's true, Sparx being a British robot does have a tooth missing."
You can read the entire article and watch an accompanying video on The Sun.

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Monday, January 11, 2010

Astro Boy Movie's Big Blue Box Art

So I noticed that the Astro Boy Movie listings on Amazon recently updated. Looks like we have our box art.

It's a lot brighter and cheerier looking than any of the North American movie posters. This sort of thing seems to happen all the time when animated movies go from theater to home video. Witness TMNT's dark theatrical poster with angry expressions and compare that to the wacky DVD cover. This cover at least uses the same art as the main poster but the new color scheme evokes a different mood. Let the complaints begin, I guess.

Anyway, I'm going to buy it, you're going to buy it, so it doesn't really matter. I like blue, so I suppose it looks cool enough.

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Brazilian Comic Creator's Tezuka Crossover!

Now this is a totally amazing story!

Comic creator Mauricio de Sousa, known by many as the "Disney of Brazil", was a great friend of Osamu Tezuka. The two had planned to create a film about world peace that would feature characters from both Tezuka's works as well as de Sousa's. Sadly, Tezuka passed away before this could ever happen, but de Sousa always hoped to complete the story in the form of a comic.

That hope will now become a reality, as Tezuka characters including Princess Knight will be joining characters from de Sousa's body of work, including "Monica's Gang", in a new comic that will be published in Portuguese this June, with the potential of a Japanese version as well.

You can read more details at Anime News Network.

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Friday, January 8, 2010

Manga's Military Machines Rebranded

The Mainichi Daily News has a new article about how famous manga characters, including Astro Boy and Tetsujin 28, were inspired by the events of World War II but have become symbols of peace and are now recognized as such, as evident in the giant Tetsujin 28 statue pictured to the right.

It's a great look at how characters like this are so much more than just simple cartoons, and have so much to tell us about the past and future of humanity, and how they can be discussed academically. Here's a sample, which relates these two Japanese icons to the story of Frankenstein.

In "Astro Boy," there is psychological conflict between the father (correlating to the professor in "Frankenstein") and the son (correlating to the monster). But in "Tetsujin 28-go," elements of the strange nature of Frankenstein's monster emerge, and at first a strong impression is created that the robot is an embodiment of evil. In this respect, the robot contrasts strongly with the adorable Astro Boy. A feeling of fear from the war is added to this.
You can read "Manga's military machines rebranded as images of peace" on The Mainichi Daily News website or by clicking the link below for an archived version.

Manga's military machines rebranded as images of peace

Manga reflect the times, and the shadow of wartime memories has been cast on many manga titles. One well-known example is Osamu Tezuka's "Astro Boy," which depicts the namesake hero being caught up in trouble between humans and robots. This was apparently inspired by the author's experience of being knocked to the ground by an American soldier soon after the end of the war.

In the magazine "Shonen," which featured "Astro Boy," another robot manga also rose to popularity: Mitsuteru Yokoyama's "Tetsujin 28-go," whose publication began in 1956. This work also has strong overtones of war. In the story, Tetsujin was originally developed secretly as a weapon for Japan during the war, but the war ends and the robot is instead used to maintain peace.

The naming of the robot, Tetsujin 28-go (literally, "Iron Man No. 28"), is said to have partly been inspired by the destructive B-29 bombers of World War II. The early published stories, in particular, placed a strong emphasis on fear, and the robot's image as a weapon of war was strong.

"Tetsujin 28-go" starts from wartime portrayals. Development of a robot is progressing at the request of the military, but the first through 26th attempts fail. The 27th robot is workable, but after that a stronger weapon is born: Tetsujin 28-go.

In the story, various spies are engaged in secret activities in Japan after the war, and Tetsujin, depicted as a relic of the war, comes close to falling into the hands of evildoers, but in the end the robot is retrieved and delivered to Japanese police. The young Shotaro Kaneda controls the robot, and it is used for peace.

It may be that the molding of Tetjsujin 28-go was influenced by the bizarre atmosphere conveyed in the movie "Frankenstein." In fact, Astro Boy also possesses an atmosphere similar to that of Mary Shelley's novel. In the novel the monster is depicted as a pure child, and one of the monster's favorite books is "The Sorrows of Young Werther" by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. It is only the monster's outer appearance that is ugly, resulting in it being hated. Eventually the monster's heart becomes twisted.

Tetsujin 28-go and Astro Boy carry on the image of monsters in human form that are depicted in the film and novel, but that influence is clearly divided in the two manga works.

In "Astro Boy," there is psychological conflict between the father (correlating to the professor in "Frankenstein") and the son (correlating to the monster). But in "Tetsujin 28-go," elements of the strange nature of Frankenstein's monster emerge, and at first a strong impression is created that the robot is an embodiment of evil. In this respect, the robot contrasts strongly with the adorable Astro Boy. A feeling of fear from the war is added to this.

In 2009, a huge, life-size statue of the Gundam robot was erected in Tokyo's Odaiba district, and gained popularity. Not to be outdone, Yokoyama's home town of Kobe, a city damaged extensively in the Great Hanshin Earthquake of 1995, erected a huge Tetsujin monument. It is delightful that what was once a symbol of evil has now resurfaced as a monument of peace. (By Osamu Takeuchi, professor of Doshisha University)

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Sunday, January 3, 2010

Astro Boy Movie hits home in March!

What better way to kick off the new year here on ABW than to bring word of the Region 1 release of the Astro Boy movie on DVD and Blu-Ray.

According to The HD Room, the film will be available in North America on March 16th, 2010. There are no further details announced at this time as to what kinds of extras will be included in this release. In fact, there isn't any box art yet! However, you can pre-order the DVD or Blu-ray version for a reduced price on and help support Astro Boy World in the process.

This March promises to be a very exciting month for North American fans, as not only is Astro Boy on the home video release slate, but so is Hayao Miyazaki's Ponyo on DVD and Blu-Ray + DVD combo pack and the long awaited Blu-Ray release of Evangelion 1.11: You Are Not Alone. I'd better start saving my pennies now!

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