Saturday, February 27, 2010

Korea's Robot Land

 Proposed to open in 2012, Robot Land will be a theme park in Incheon, South Korea totally devoted to the awesomeness of robots! Robot rides, robot fish, robot competitions, robot shopping, and more are planned to entertain pathetic flesh creatures in what might just be the greatest park in the galaxy. There will be some real, actual scientific-type stuff to learn too, thanks to a research facility staffed by Seoul National University engineers.

Astro Boy, Transformers, and other famous robot characters are planned to be a part of the action as well, including movie sets recreated from films like The Matrix, Minority Report, and I, Robot.

Find out more about this tribute to our robotic superiors here and check out the official Robot Land website.

Continue reading "Korea's Robot Land"...

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Kid Trapped in Cup Holder. Panic Ensues.

Tragedy struck a screening of the Astro Boy movie in the UK as a young boy gets his arm stuck in a theater seat's cup holder. Kent Online has the story.
A boy had to be freed by firefighters after getting his arm stuck in his cinema seat.

The seven-year-old, who has not been named, was watching Astro Boy at the Cineworld cinema in Medway Valley Park, on Saturday, when he got his arm wedged in the cup holder attached to his seat.

He was watching the film with his neighbour and their children and got stuck around halfway through the film - but didn't tell anyone about his predicament until the credits started to roll.

A member of cinema staff found some baby oil and greased the boy's arm to try to ease it out, but firefighters had to be called in to cut him free.

A spokesman for Kent Fire and Rescue Service said: "It was an unusual job. While we were talking to him he revealed that he'd got it stuck halfway through the film, but didn't tell anyone as he thought he'd be able to get his arm out by the end of the movie and didn't want to get into any trouble.

"His arm was stuck right in the holder up to his bicep."
Concerned director David Bowers had this to say on his Twitter page regarding the unfortunate incident.
"Was it really worth reporting?"
It is now, buddy!

I hope the kid liked the movie anyway. Looks to me that he didn't realize it had happened as he was so engrossed in watching the film. Bet he wishes he had an arm cannon like Astro does.

AstroBoyWorld will continue to deliver all the hard hitting news that matters! Thanks to Robert for the tip!

Continue reading "Kid Trapped in Cup Holder. Panic Ensues."...

Sunday, February 21, 2010

China's Animation Growing Pains

Found this recent article about the Chinese animation business, which details some of the obstacles the industry has faced and some of the measures taken by the government to promote it's home grown cartoons while limiting the exposure of foreign imports.

Surprisingly, this article does not mention Imagi at all, in spite coming off the heals of recent shake-ups at the company. What is mentioned, however, is a very interesting fact that I was not previously aware of. The 1980's Astro Boy anime was one of the very first foreign produced cartoons granted entry into China. Here's a video I found of the Chinese Astro Boy theme music.

I always knew that Astro was a popular and important character with Chinese people but now it really makes sense. Of course, this was a double edged sword because it opened the floodgates for Japanese animation in China but at the expense of the country's own cartoon business. Now, such things are highly regulated by the government and China's animation industry is trying to catch up.

I love cartoons and I really enjoy going through the rich history of Japanese anime but I know next to nothing about Chinese animation. I would like to learn more and I think that all animation can only benefit from being shared and allowing new cultural influences while still exploring a cultural identity.

You can read "Growing pains of China's animation movie" at or by clicking the link below for an archived version.

Growing pains of China's animation movie
by Wu Chen

BEIJING, Feb. 15 (Xinhua) -- Freelance writer Wang Xin watched James Cameron's new movie Avatar in December during her visit to America. She was moved by the story and amazed by the 3D effects of the half-animated movie.

The film reminded Wang, a 29-year-old cartoon fan, of a Chinese-made animated movie The Pleasant Goat and Big Big Wolf she watched at the beginning of 2009.

The film told the story of several goats who were fighting their enemy, the Big Big Wolf, who covets fresh mutton for his family.

It cost 6 million yuan to produce and fetched more than 80 million yuan (11.76 million U.S. dollars) at the box office.

In addition to children, many white-collar workers liked the film. "How to marry a husband like the Big Big Wolf" became a hot topic on the Internet.

The singer, Yafeng, made a song about the desire. He explains why the wolf was worthy of love. "I love you more than loving myself... although I'm very hungry, I will let you take the first bite when I catch a goat..."

There were at least eight domestically-produced animated films last year in China, making it a "blowout" year for China's cartoon films according to critics.

Yin Hong, professor and director of the Center for Film and Television Studies of Tsinghua University, said the production scale of China's cartoon industry has been expanded to more than 140,000 minutes of animation this year, which formed the foundation for many films.

He contributes the growth to the continuous efforts of the government, which set up supporting policies to boost domestic animation industry.

In 2000, the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television (SARFT) required local TV stations to get approval from the administration and set quotas for imported cartoons to air on TV.

In 2004, it issued another regulation, stipulating that at least 60 percent of cartoon programs aired in any given quarter had to be domestic.

In September 2006, the SARFT banned all foreign cartoons from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Last February it extended the ban to 9 p.m.

Additionally, the Chinese government has made an annual investment of 200 million yuan in the animation industry since 2006.

Last July, the Ministry of Finance and the State Administration of Taxation jointly issued a favorable taxation policy to support the development of comic and animation industry.

It seems the measures have started to pay off.

China currently has some 6,000 companies making cartoons and comics. According to a report from the Ministry of Culture (MOC) last March, the industry now employs more than 200,000 workers and yearly production of animation was up to 130,000 minutes in 2008.

However, besides the lucky "Happy Goat" and the Mainland-Hong Kong co-production McDull, Kung Fu Kindergarten, other animated films, including The Magic Aster, Happy Running, and the 3D Prequel of the Monkey King didn't do so well at box office.

A poll done by the China Youth Daily in November 2008 showed that only 14.2 percent of the nearly 3,000 people polled liked Chinese cartoons the best.

By contrast, 62.4 percent of respondents said their favorite animated films were U.S.-made. Another 45.9 percent favored films from Japan.

Chinese animation germinated in the 1920s with Uproar in the Studio a 12-minute cartoon made in 1926. The first animated feature length film called "Tie Shan Gongzhu," or "Princess Iron Fan," was made in 1941.

Before the 1980s, China made a lot of animated films. Many of them are still thought of as masterpieces today by fans, including The Monkey King, Secrets of the Heavenly Book, and Nezha Conquers the Dragon King. These were adapted from Chinese legends.

The first foreign cartoon introduced to China was Japan's Astro Boy series in 1981. Since then foreign cartoons have flooded into China. Because of their more entertaining stories and better business model, they rapidly took control of the market. That was a low point for the Chinese animation industry.

From 1993 to 2003, China only produced 46,000 minutes of animation. Jin Cheng, a director with the Guangzhou Animation and Cartoon Association, said the main reason for these Chinese films' failure in box office was poor preparation and too much focus on success and money.

"Some animation companies made a film in 9 months. They never paid attention to first-phase layout, not to mention delicate polishing," Jin said.

Many of these films, launched with high expectations and great public relations campaigns, got an indifferent response from the market after hitting the big screen.

To Wang Xin, the movie version of the Plesant Goat was a simple cut-and-paste from its original TV series. "The idea, images, and technology were terrible compared to foreign cartoon movies. The film even didn't have a full storyline," she noted.

She said that today's Chinese-made animation lacks the human touch that earlier Chinese cartoons had.

Many producers prefer to add hot social topics, such as the financial crisis, or popular Internet topics to their movies.

"I feel no sincerity from local animation producers toward their audience," Wang Xin said.

Yin Hong said, under current circumstances, it's reasonable for local producers to avoid competition with their foreign counterparts in terms of technology, special effects and other hard conditions.

"The gap between them is too wide," he said.

Wang Xin blames the gap on the protective policies. "These companies won't make progress without competition. Instead, they will lower the taste of domestic audience as they can only watch low-grade animation. It's a vicious circle," Wang said.

Lu Ming, a cartoonist who publishes his comic books in European countries, said the supporting policy, which regulates how animation producing companies get subsidies according to the time length of their productions, damages the artistic and cultural purchase of producers.

"They became total businessmen, and cartoons were only a tool for them to make money," Lu said.

He used his own experience with his book as an example. Even with well-connected storylines, complicated images, and Chinese cultural relevance, he could not find publishers in the domestic market. He had a stable group of readers in foreign countries.

Yin Hong said at the first stage, the policies did stimulate the expansion of the scale of domestic animation industry, however, the policies only emphasized quantity.

He said the direction should be shifted from competition on cost to competition in quality.

"Instead of getting money from just making out an animation, the producers have to consider more about market response, which will force them pay more attention to improve the animation's quality," he said.

He also said policies should encourage the integration of companies and the development of brand and reputation.

As they develop the quality of domestic animation, they will attract larger audiences. As the market grows, local producers will have more space to focus on creativity, Yin said.

"That will be a favorable circle," he said.

Continue reading "China's Animation Growing Pains"...

Sunday, February 14, 2010

80's Astro End Theme Piano Cover

Here's a little musical interlude I just discovered on YouTube that should brighten up your day. It's a piano cover of the end theme from the 1980's Astro Boy anime series. Catchy tune and great job by the pianist!

Brings back great memories for those of us that grew up with the show, doesn't it?

Continue reading "80's Astro End Theme Piano Cover"...

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Craig McCracken's Tezuka Tribute

Check out this wild piece of artwork by the amazing animator Craig McCracken, creator of The Powerpuff Girls. It's a tribute to Osamu Tezuka's Magma Taishi (the main character from the live action show known in the US as 'Space Giants") in the style of Milton Glaser.

Prints and T-Shirts of this artwork can be purchased at Nakatomi Stuff, but only for the month of February, so act now!

Continue reading "Craig McCracken's Tezuka Tribute"...

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

What's going on at Imagi?

It's unfortunate, but it's my duty to post the facts as I come to know them, and so I must acknowledge the turmoil happening at Imagi, the animation studio responsible for the Astro Boy movie.

Previously I reported on the closure of Imagi's US office based in Los Angeles, but the cuts don't stop there. Last week, over 300 employees from their Hong Kong base of operations were laid off. There wasn't much information out there at the time, so I held off on reporting it until I could find out more. From what I have gathered, the lay offs were intended to be temporary while the company sought new investments, but the company faced a critical decision at that time whether to keep operations going or to liquidate.

Now it is confirmed that liquidation is exactly what will be going on. Imagi's in-house animation production (known as Imagi Production Limited) is shutting down and their equipment will be sold off.

To clarify, a lot of headlines reporting this news are saying that Imagi is shutting down, but this is not entirely the case. It's is Imagi's animation production that is shutting down, not the entire company. Imagi is still in business and their current plan is to outsource their film production to other animation houses in China.

I will be trying to make sense out of all of this, and what it means to the fans, in a future post here on ABW. In the meantime, a much more detailed official announcement can be found here (.pdf file), and I recommend that everyone read that if you want to know what is really going on. You can also read coverage from Anime News Network, as well as the story from The Associated Press, an archived copy of which I have saved for posterity and can be accessed by clicking the link below.

HK studio behind 'TMNT,' 'Astro Boy' shuts down


HONG KONG — The Hong Kong studio behind "TMNT" and "Astro Boy" has shut down as its parent company tries to recover from losses.

Imagi International Holdings Ltd. said in a statement to the Hong Kong stock exchange that it stopped funding its computer animation studio on Feb. 5 "to further preserve its limited liquidity and shareholder value." The studio will ask a Hong Kong court to name liquidators, the statement issued Monday said.

But Imagi said it will continue to develop movie ideas and outsource the actual animation work to mainland China and other countries, where costs are lower.

Starting out as a Christmas tree manufacturer, the Hong Kong company went into computer animation in 2000 and was touted as a successful transition to a high-tech economy. In 2007, Imagi released its first feature movie, "TMNT." The English-language production based on the characters from the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle cartoon series in the 1980s earned a solid $95.6 million worldwide, according to the box office tracking Web site Box Office Mojo.

But Imagi's second release, "Astro Boy," fared poorly last year. Despite hiring an all-star cast including Nicolas Cage and Samuel L. Jackson to voice the characters from the Japanese comic book series by the same name, the film only made $23 million worldwide, according to Box Office Mojo.

In its latest financial results, Imagi said it recorded a net loss of 726 million Hong Kong dollars ($93.4 million) for the six months that ended on Sept. 30, 2009 — just before "Astro Boy" was released in October.

Imagi also owes some HK$36 million ($4.6 million) in back pay to the 350 employees it laid off, Hong Kong's Apple Daily newspaper reported on Tuesday, citing labor organizers working with the former employees.

A woman handling press calls for Imagi said the company had no comment pending a further statement to the Hong Kong stock exchange. She declined to give her name.

Copyright © 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

Continue reading "What's going on at Imagi?"...

Sunday, February 7, 2010

The Anime Injustice Gang

When I first debuted my artwork of the Justice League of Anime, which features a team comprised of classic characters of Japanese animation such as Astro Boy filling in for the original DC comic book super heroes, there was not only a huge positive response, but also a large demand for me to do the same with the Injustice Gang, a team of villains that would oppose the League.

After one full year of soliciting suggestions and researching on my own, I finally assembled a team of bad guys to oppose my Anime Justice League and finished the artwork last month. Of course, I knew I wanted to use an Osamu Tezuka villain, and while there were a few choices to work with, I could think of no better evil mastermind to take over the Lex Luthor spot than the dastardly fellow you see front and center in the image below.

ANIME INJUSTICE GANG ATTACKS by ~ninjatron on deviantART

That's right, Rock Holmes leads this chaotic cavalcade of villainy, comprised of Vicious, Doronjo, Hakaider, Toguro, Cell, and Ruby Moon. Take a look at it on deviantART for a full detailed description with more information on each of these characters.


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Saturday, February 6, 2010

400 Posts

This is the 400th post here on Astro Boy World!
It's hard to believe there has been that many. Thanks to everyone who has visited. Please continue to enjoy the site and post your feedback!

Continue reading "400 Posts"...

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Robot Vs World

Well, something like this doesn't show up every day. Or maybe it does in Australia, I'm not sure.

Robot Vs World is a play that ran during the Melbourne Fringe Festival last fall. The official plot synopsis is as follows:
Someone is killing off all the famous TV and film robots and the original Optimus Prime, the classic Astroboy and an 80s Dalek must form an unlikely alliance to try and solve the mystery, live on stage.
Keep on rockin', you crazy Aussies! Thanks to Infinite Hollywood for posting about this originally.

Some video can be found by clicking the continue reading link below, where you can get a look at some of the costumes. I must warn everyone by saying there is some NSFW language.

Continue reading "Robot Vs World"...