Friday, March 7, 2008

60's Tetsuwan Atomu Anime

Here's the Japanese intro sequence to the 60's Tetsuwan Atomu anime. This is what it's all about, folks!

You've got to admit that, considering its age, there's some pretty decent and interesting animation going on here. When the camera moves upward and the background animates accordingly is particularly impressive. These days they'd just use a computer to do that effect.

Is the 60's AstroBoy the first ever anime? I guess that depends on who you ask. It was technically not the first ever Japanese animation broadcast on TV. It was predated by an animation called Three Tales in 1960, which was 30 minuets long, and series called Otogi Manga Calendar, which had episodes that were 3-5 minuets long and aired from 1961 to 1964. But a case can still be made for AstroBoy. It was the first TV anime series to feature an actual story line with reoccurring characters, the first to have the visual aesthetic that is now identifiable as anime, and it was definitely the first to be sold and adapted internationally. It had a far greater effect on establishing the Japanese animation industry than any other series at that time.

Wikipedeia has a great entry on the history of anime here.

A few interesting facts about the 60's AstroBoy

- 193 Japanese episodes were produced. Of those, 104 were adapted into English, double the amount expected. Several episodes could not be adapted due to violence and other issues in the Japanese original that were not seen as appropriate for children's programing in America. One episode in particular was not adapted due to a character who had several posters of naked women on his walls, which would have been impossible to edit around.

- In 1975, an attempt was made to return the original prints and negatives to Mushi Productions in Japan, but the studio had gone into bankruptcy and could not afford to pay for the shipping. As a result, these materials were unfortunately destroyed. All of that history would have been gone forever, but, miraculously, some episodes wound up in the hands of collectors, and enough material survived to restore and preserve the series starting in 1989.

- in 2002, AstroBoy aired again in Japan, only this time it was the English version with Japanese subtitles!

- Fred Ladd, who handled the English adaptation of AstroBoy, came up with the idea of adding lyrics to the theme music. The Japanese producers liked this so much that lyrics were eventually added to the Japanese version, effectively creating the concept of "anime music".

As of this writing, the original AstroBoy can be seen in the United States on Cartoon Network's Adult Swim at 5:30 am on Weekdays. The entire English-dubbed series is available now on DVD from The Right Stuff.